Mutual Benefits – Chapter 20

There are things you know, but just can’t explain. You just feel what’s right. Even if it’s not what you “should” do, you know you have to do it, and it was in that moment, probably right before she would have went to voicemail, that I hit ‘answer’ and brought my phone to my ear.

Silence greeted me before Morgan did. “I didn’t like the person I was today,” her dry voice greeted me. “I can be better than that. I’m sorry for hitting you. And for, uh, interrupting. Like I always do. If you want to break up with me, you can, and um, maybe you should, but we can’t end it like we did.”

Her normal tone was back. Hell, it was like the tone she had before we even started dating, like, right before. Trying to be emotionless and professional, but with just enough nervousness in her voice to make it clear something was up.

I stole a look at Taylor. It was weird how, at one time, she was the immature one that needed to apologize, and Morgan was the voice of reason. “I don’t want to apologize for anything I said,” I said with a dry throat.

“Yeah, no, of course not,” Morgan immediately replied sincerely. “You don’t have to. I, uh, was the bad guy. I don’t want to make that mistake again. I…” She gave a single, sad chuckle. “I don’t even know if you consider us broken up or not. I don’t know whether to ask you for another chance or…” She trailed off. 

Neither of us said anything for a bit. I was staring at the wall, and Taylor’s waving hand brought me back to reality. She was fully clothed, and was holding my clothes in her hands. “Put these on,” she mouthed.

I covered my end of the phone. “Why?”

“I’m driving you to her place, Quinn,” she said, rolling her eyes, as if it were obvious. 

I looked at her, weirded out for a second, then heard Morgan speak. “It’s up to you, but if you feel the same way, I’d like to see you again tonight. Even if it’s over, I just don’t want that to be our, uh…” Her voice caught in her throat. “Our, uh… last time seeing each other.”

I stared at Taylor for a bit, then snatched my clothes with my free hand. “I’ll see if I can find a ride,” I told Morgan with a flat voice. “I’ll text you soon.” I ended the call and turned to Taylor. “What are you doing?”

“What do you think I’m doing?” she asked with a surprisingly soft voice. 

“What, you heard all that shit about us fighting, her hitting me, her cheating on me, and then one phone call later you’re suddenly playing matchmaker?” I asked.

“You don’t get it,” she replied, shaking her head.

“Okay then, enlighten me,” I demanded.

“Think of the bigger picture, and all the shit you’ve been through. All the shit we have been through,” she said emphatically. “Think of everything you put her through, all because of me.”

“What, so this is because you feel guilty?” I asked.

“Quinn…” she replied slowly, exhausted. “Don’t you get it? She didn’t hit you.”

I stayed silent. 

“I did.”

Deja vu. This was freaky. I stared at her and stayed silent.

She continued. “Okay, yeah, that sounds cheesy as fuck, but, like, Morgan wouldn’t have done that. She was pushed to the edge by… by me. And she, like, became me. It’s the same shit the boys did to me, the shit you’ve heard about over and over, and look how I turned out.”

“That doesn’t mean I should just forgive her. She didn’t just forgive you. Hell, neither did I.”

“I know, but…”

“I don’t even know if I want to be with her anymore. You and I just had sex. What if we end up together? What if I end up with someone completely different?”

“What if you do?” she asked me back. “But sure, okay, I’ll ask you instead of telling you. Who do you want to be in a relationship with?”

“Maybe I want to be alone for a little bit,” I replied quietly.

“Great, so tell her that too,” she replied. “But at least tell her. I’m not gonna, like, lie to you, your fight with her was big. I’m not gonna be all like, ‘oh, you had one little fight, patch it up.’ I get it. I’ve had them too.”

“And what did you do?” 

It was clear from the look on her face she wasn’t expecting that question. She looked away in shame as I finished dressing. “Look, this isn’t abo-”

“Answer the question please,” I told her.

“Okay, yes, if my boyfriends cheated, or even if they hit me, I’d just forgive them and go along with it.”

“And would they stop cheating on you? Fuck, did they ever stop hitting you?” I asked in anger.

“Okay, Quinn, I’ve been with some real pieces of shit. Number one, you’re comparing them to Morgan? Really? But number two, you’re way out of line using my past boyfriends hitting me to make a point. Fucking stop.”

That took some steam out of me. “…Okay,” I said weakly, trying to remain defiant. 

We both didn’t say anything for a while. “We both know that what she did today isn’t Morgan,” she told me. 

I paused. “Yeah,” I admitted. “Do you really think it was you?”

“I dunno. I just know it was caused by me,” she admitted. “But hey, I also think that if it weren’t for me, she never would have liked you either.”

“Seems like you’re a big part of this,” I noted, whipping out my phone and texting Morgan.

I found a ride with Taylor. Can she be there for part of the conversation? I feel like she’s important to this.

“I guess…” Taylor replied slowly. “What do you mean?”

I replied by showing her the phone, and Taylor’s look of confusion deepened. “Um, Quinn, I did not agree to that,” she said sourly.

My phone buzzed with Morgan’s answer, and we both saw her response.

I think i agree, let me know when youre here

I stared at Taylor for a bit, and she looked back at me until giving up and rolling her eyes. “Oh, fuck you,” she sighed. “Why not? One last fucking shouting match or whatever. I’ll go.” With both of us dressed, she started walking towards the stairs before she stopped. “But just because I can’t say this at her place… I’m really glad we fucked. It felt, uh… right. I’m sorry if it feels weird to bring up now.”

“I feel the same way,” I told her. “Whatever happens, I don’t regret that we did it.”

She smiled at me before walking up the stairs, with me right behind her.

***

Her optimism was gone by the time we reached Morgan’s house.

“I really don’t want to go in there,” she told me sourly. “I feel like people are just going to shout at each other, and it’s gonna stink. We always do that.”

“And we always do the things that warrant people shouting at each other,” I countered.

“Yeah, and we just did, like, the worst thing we could have done tonight, Quinn,” she replied immediately, a blush on her face. 

“I thought you said you were glad we did it,” I pointed out.

“I was. I am. It’s still the worst thing we could have done though. Sometimes you want to do the worst thing. Sometimes… I dunno, the worst thing is a good thing to do. Like, it’s the worst for some people and better for others. Fuck, I dunno what I’m saying.”

“It’s the worst thing from some angles, and a good thing from others?” 

“Sure,” she replied dismissively. “Fuck, let’s just get this over with.” She undid the seatbelt and opened her door, marching up to Taylor’s door. “Hurry up. I’m not gonna be the one to, like, ring the doorbell, Quinn.”

I chuckled lowly and undid my seatbelt, opening the car door and taking in the sight of Morgan’s house in the moonlight. I was hoping this wouldn’t be the last time I’d get to see this house, but I knew what must be done.

I rang the doorbell and Morgan answered surprisingly quickly, with an unusual amount of emotion painting her face. Sadness? Guilt? General unease? It was hard to say. She was wearing a baggy hoodie, and her face looked… like she was having a rough night.

“Hey,” she simply said, then let us in. 

The room was dark, with nothing but the moonlight pouring through the windows letting us see each other. Taylor took to the couch then buried her face in a pillow immediately, which gave me time to ask Morgan a few things. “Where are Doug and your parents?”

“Mom and dad are asleep and Doug’s out,” she replied flatly. “So whatever happens, we’ll have to keep this quiet, which is nice, I guess.”

I smiled. “Always so pragmatic,” I said softly.

To my dismay, her expression only turned sadder and her eyes got misty. “Don’t compliment me right now, if you could please,” she said plainly, despite the state of her eyes. “It only makes me hurt more.”

“Okay, so, you can do what you want, and say what you want,” I outlined. “But first, I want to say two sentences, then make a request of you. Is that okay?”

“Sure, I’ll listen,” she agreed, sitting down. Next to her, Taylor removed her face from the pillow, clearly less trusting of what I was about to do.

I took in a breath and began. “I had sex with Taylor tonight.”

“Oh, this is so fucked,” Taylor laughed with zero amusement in her tone. Her raised voice rang through the hallways.

Amazingly, all Morgan did was furrow her brow and put her finger to her lips towards Taylor. “Shh,” she ordered.

I figured the best thing to do was to continue. “I didn’t plan on it happening, and neither did she I think, but it happened. Keeping it from you will only cause this shit to keep happening. I’m just… I want out of the drama. I’m so sick of it. I don’t care what happens to me, but I want the option that causes the least amount of drama, whether it means us making up or never seeing each other again. I think this was more than two sentences.”

I paused, hoping for a chuckle, but no such thing came. So, I took in another breath and continued. “If you think you’re going to get mad, at me or in general, I’d like you to ask Taylor to leave before you do. I think, this time, she’s innocent, or at least as innocent as Taylor gets.”

“Hey! I’m right here, you know,” Taylor complained. “What the hell is that suppo-”

“Taylor,” Morgan interjected, emphatically enough to cut her off but not enough to denote any kind of anger.

Taylor turned to Morgan, unease in her eyes.

“About the Derek thing,” Morgan said dryly. “We’re even now.”

Taylor stared at Morgan for a bit. “…What?”

“The Derek thing. We’re even.” Morgan emotionlessly repeated herself.

“Did you… I don’t…”

Morgan just stared at Taylor, raising her eyebrows once, Morgan’s version of a muted smile of acknowledgement.

“You’re not gonna… blow up at us?” Taylor gingerly asked.

“I kind of expected it. I didn’t want it, of course, but-”

“And you hit him!”

Morgan sighed slowly. “Yeah.” She got up and looked at me.  Her eyes were hardened when they started looking at me, but when she saw the way I was looking back, they softened. “Hey. Uh, can I… get a hug? If not, that’s cool, but you can-” She couldn’t finish her sentence; she’d already started crying. Immediately, I walked forward and my arms flung around her. Embracing her felt like going back home. It felt right, even after all this. Hugging Morgan felt like going back home.

“I’m gonna stop drinking,” she practically whispered into my ear, between sobs.

I broke off the hug and looked at her. “Why? You weren’t drunk when we talked, were you…?”

“No, but I just- I just don’t know what caused me to act like I did, and it- it scared me, and I…” She resumed the hug and buried her head into my shoulder again, crying a little before she resumed speaking. “I want to end the drama too, and I always wanted to end it, but it just… I just… I don’t know where we went wrong.”

“Maybe it’s like, not my place to say, but you guys did invite me inside, so…” Taylor began. “You guys kept trying to one-up the other. Yeah, you tried to avoid drama, from, like, the other side. But you decided to kiss me and accept the consequences, Quinn, and you decided to sleep with Arin again, Morgan, and you-”

“I get it,” Morgan sharply interrupted, tearing her face from my shoulder. She turned back to me. “I just don’t know what to say to make this all just magically go away.”

“I don’t think there’s anything either of us could say,” I replied softly. “I honestly came here thinking you blowing up at me for sleeping with Taylor was a huge possibility.”

Morgan, against all odds, broke into a small smile. “Our relationship was practically made by you nearly sleeping with her,” she pointed out. “I knew that the second we broke up, you two would at least go at it. It’s like what I said when we had that big fight at Taylor’s house. I got all the tears out of my system.”

She walked back over to the couch and sat down. “Honestly, it’s almost freeing knowing you two finally did it. At least the hell of ‘will they won’t they’ in my mind is over.” She played with one of the couch cushions, and looked back up at me. “If I gave you the option of being able to, would you do it with her again?”

“What kind of question is that?!” Taylor demanded.

“A question I’m asking Quinn,” Morgan answered her dismissively. 

Taylor’s mouth hung open, clearly not enjoying Morgan’s audacity, but I picked up on something different.

“I wouldn’t need you giving me the option,” I said slowly. “Why is that part of the question?”

Morgan looked like she was caught completely off-guard. “Oh, uh, right,” she scrambled. “Um, I guess I should have led with this. What are we?”

I looked at Taylor, then back at Morgan. “I don’t know. I think that will have to be determined with a few more talks, just between us.”

“You invited me over here to third-wheel a fucking therapy session,” Taylor complained. “Can I say something here?”

“No,” Morgan asserted.

“Yes,” I countered, then stared Morgan down.

“I wouldn’t sleep with Quinn again if I’m, like, being honest,” Taylor said. “You’re right, it was on our minds for a while, but seeing what it started, like… y’know? I don’t think it’s, like, smart. No offense.”

“None taken,” I replied diplomatically. “I feel the same way, I don’t think I’d sleep with you again either.” It was a complete lie, but it helped move things along, plus I wasn’t going to score any points with either of the girls by begging Taylor to change her mind.

With that, Taylor turned her attention to Morgan. “So what’s with you agreeing for me to come over and shushing me at every opportunity? Do you just like having this power over me, or what?”

Morgan shrugged. “Quinn suggested it, if I’m being honest. And now I can see why.”

Both girls turned to look at me, and it was my turn to shrug. “I think the best antidote to drama is being honest,” I said for the record. “If I didn’t tell you this immediately, I feel like it would be the exact same situation we were just in, in reverse. And to be honest…” I trailed off. “This is going to sound dumb, but you’re both really special to me, in your own ways. Both of you fill a different… social need of mine. I don’t quite get it myself. But just talking to one of you here didn’t seem right. And you two… are still friends, right?”

Morgan turned to Taylor and smiled again. “Yeah,” she admitted. 

“Why the heck wouldn’t we be?” Taylor questioned.

“Nearly stealing my boyfri-” Morgan caught herself. “Ex-boyfriend, twice, did make me a bit… nervous. It does throw a wrench into things.”

“Oh yeah?” Taylor challenged. “What do you c-”

“Taylor,” I asserted, nearly standing up. “She’s saying it to communicate how she feels, not to blame you.”

“I mean, I’m saying it for both,” Morgan replied, stone-faced. “Didn’t you want to blame someone when Joel broke up with you?”

“What? No, I didn’t blame Quinn,” Taylor immediately fired back. “You can ask him. I never did.”

“I’m talking about Abby.”

Taylor’s face turned into a pout and she looked away. “I don’t want to talk about this,” she said weakly. 

That was as close to a ‘yes’ as we were going to get from her. I thought Morgan was going to back off, but she persisted. “What’s the best way to both let you know you’re my friend but also get it through your head that you keep doing things that upset me?”

It was so blunt and honest that it caught Taylor unaware. She turned back to Morgan and processed the words, and eventually she shrugged. “I dunno,” she said quietly. 

“You’re going to move away soon,” I found myself saying. “Maybe some time away from Taylor, and maybe even me, will do some good for you.”

Morgan looked back at me with a sad expression. “I don’t want time away from either of you. I’m really scared that…” She stopped and looked to the ground.

I waited, but Taylor didn’t. “You’re really scared that what?”

Morgan shrugged. “That being away from me will make you forget about me. That you’ll find new friends, or new girlfriends, or something.”

Taylor moved next to Morgan and put her arm around her. “Morgan,” she sang. “You and me keep being friends no matter what happens, and that’s because we’re, like, such good friends. Nothing will keep us apart.”

Morgan’s expression just grew sadder. “But now we’re being pushed apart because of… well…”

“Because of me?” I offered.

I was almost scared. It was clear. I was the biggest threat to their friendship. I was the thing that would need to be eliminated if Taylor and Morgan were sick of the drama. If they wanted to keep their friendship going as smoothly as possible, there was one piece that didn’t fit into the puzzle, and that was me. 

Morgan looked at me and, seemingly, read my mind. “Don’t you dare,” she said.

“It’s true though,” I replied softly. “Even if you two kept being close, if we took some time away from each other, I think it would help you two. It might even help us two, Morgan.”

I realized I was just sounding like Morgan did, right before she hit me. Being ominously calm and realizing the other person didn’t need me like they needed Taylor. It always came back to Taylor. Maybe it was time to talk without Taylor. After I finished, I whipped out my phone and texted Morgan. 

Let me come over tomorrow. We can talk then. I think we’re wearing Taylor out.

While I was texting her, Taylor took over. “I think he’s right,” she gingerly offered. “Morgan, think about it. All this mess-”

“Shut up,” Morgan asserted. “No. No, no, no. This is not a solution. This will only make things worse, for everyone.”

“Hey Morgan, your phone is vibrating,” I chimed in. 

“I don’t care.”

I rolled my eyes. “Morgan, I texted you, you genius, read it.”

Hey eyebrows met in a V with her anger, but she picked up the phone and read it.

“What does it say?” Taylor asked.

“Two geniuses,” I mused. “If I wanted you to know what I said, I would have just said it.”

Morgan finished reading what I said, and looked up at me with suspicion.

Taylor noticed Morgan’s look, and that was good enough for me. “So hey, let’s practice. Let’s at least try it out, maybe spend tomorrow away from each other.” I looked at Morgan meaningfully, trying to tell her without winking that I was lying to help satiate Taylor’s curiosity. “Do you mind if Taylor drives me back home?”

Morgan bit her lip. “Can I at least text you tomorrow?” she offered, clearly getting my facade.

“You can try, I’ll see if I feel up to answering,” I replied. “Are you okay with that?”

“I think so,” Morgan said with a nod. “Anything you need to say, Tay?”

“Yeah.” Taylor turned to me. “Fuck you for pulling this shit and telling Morgan we did that without clearing it with me first.” Upon seeing me start to object, she lifted a finger. “I get it, maybe it was even the right thing to do or whatever, but still, fuck you.” She turned to Morgan. “And yeah. We’re even.”

“Let’s try to keep it that way,” Morgan replied softly, and the two shared a hug. “I still love you. Gym on Monday?”

“Sure,” Taylor said with a half-smile, then went for the door. I looked back at Morgan, now alone on the couch, and decided now was the time to give her a wink.

She instantly smiled at me, and quickly hid it again when Taylor turned back around, demanding to know if I was ready to go. It was hard to break away from Morgan’s gaze as I left.

***

I stood on Morgan’s porch the next day, knocking on her door, the sound of the rain surrounding me. After a few seconds, Doug opened the door.

“You’re soaked,” he observed. 

“It’s raining,” I countered. “Can I come in?”

“Uh, yeah, just hang up your jacket or something. Take your shoes off,” Doug replied, letting me in. I closed the door and shed some of my wetter clothing, then walked inside, still feeling the water coming off me. 

“So, you’re here to see Morgan?” he asked. There was no mistaking the feeling in the undertone of his voice.

“Doug, I know everything,” I said meaningfully.

“What do you mean?” he asked innocently. I didn’t say anything, and he caught my gaze. After a few seconds, he dropped the act. “So, if you do, why the hell did you come back? Why do you even want to see her?”

“Because I know everything. Not just the bad stuff,” I replied. It was cheesy, but it also felt true.

He stared at me for a bit, then shrugged. “Okay,” he conceded. He walked to the stairs. “Morgan!” he yelled. “Quinn’s here for you.”

After about a minute, Morgan came downstairs, and the two of us quickly went to her room. We both walked in before either of us said anything.

“You’re soaked,” she observed. 

“It’s raining,” I countered again. 

“Couldn’t you get a ride or something?” she asked. 

“With whom? Taylor? Doug? Both of those would be bad,” I pointed out.

Neither of us said anything for a bit, until finally Morgan sat down on the bed and sighed. “I’m glad to see you,” she offered in a small voice. 

“It’s nice to see you too,” I replied.

“That’s not the same thing,” she noted, keeping her voice small, looking at the ground.

Silence took us for a few more seconds, until I started laughing nervously. “It’s crazy how many things we’re both feeling right now, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” she agreed. 

“Do we need to talk about the events of last night?” I asked.

“No. I know what happened and details would just make me relive it,” she answered. “I’m not mad at you. Or her. Just fate.”

The tension in the room was palpable. I came here to talk to her, but now that I was in the room with her, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t come here with a plan, or a point, or even anything more than a feeling. A feeling that I should just… be here with her, alone. 

I took a few steps towards the bed and just looked at her. Slowly, she stood up from the bed, looking me in the eyes.

“I was thinking of you last night,” she breathed. “After you left.”

We stared at each other for a few seconds, sadly smiling at each other’s faces. Slowly and yet all of a sudden, our faces got closer and closer until we were sharing a slow, tender kiss. 

“I missed you so much,” she practically cried when the kiss ended.

“It’s been maybe twelve hours,” I chuckle-whispered back.

“No,” she replied. “I missed you. The real you. The you that… belongs with me. Quinn, we belong together. I don’t want to take a break in college. I don’t want to need space. I just want you. Please. Please, please, please.” She hugged me and held me close, and I just held her.

We didn’t say anything more for a long time. We just held each other. After a bit, she broke away and kissed me again. “I blocked Arin on everything,” she began. “And I’ll never do it again. I don’t want to make that mistake again. I’ll be good. I’ll be so good to you. I don’t want to lose you.”

“Morgan, I’m a guy that you barely knew half a year ago,” I soothed her. “You don’t need me. No matter how bad things get, there’s always more life to live out there.”

“I don’t want more, I want what we have,” she replied with force. “Quinn, half a year ago I wasn’t happy. I was just going through the motions. I never got butterflies before. But with you, on our silly little dates, or at parties, or even when we fought, things felt like it mattered. I found out what butterflies even felt like. I have butterflies now. Please, please tell me you feel the butterflies too.”

I had to admit, I knew what the butterflies felt like, but they were… dulled right now. Was I supposed to tell her that, or not?

“I don’t know what I’m feeling,” I admitted. “This was all a lot. We’re both feeling different ways right now.”

Tears sprung into Morgan’s eyes. “What can I say to make things okay again?” she asked, getting choked up. “I don’t even need things to be like they were. They can be new, they can be totally new. I just need to undo what I did. I just need to say the right things. I just – I just -”

“You just need to calm down, for now,” I half-chuckled. “Let’s sit down.”

We sat down together on her bed, and held hands. I stroked my thumb across her knuckles, and she just stared at it. “Why are you… doing these things while telling me this?” she asked. “You’re kissing me, and stroking my hand, and telling me you’re not even sure if you feel the butterflies.”

“I want to kiss you, and it feels good, but there’s a lot of pain there,” I admitted. “And I’m trying to ask myself what I do feel. Do you want me to lie?”

She shook her head no, and looked down again. “Selfishly, I just want you to change, I guess,” she admitted. “Like, I just want you to magically want me again. Honesty time.”

“I don’t not want you,” I said instinctively.

“But you can’t say if you do want me,” she replied sadly. 

“Morgan…” I nearly laughed in frustration. “These last few days have been a lot. A big part of me does kind of want to be single after all that. Like, I feel things for you, but I don’t know what they are, and I want to be single. You can’t expect me to suddenly have everything straight and know how to feel about all this even if you know what you want.”

“Yeah, but if I know what I want, and am ready to, like, make amends, I can do what I can to fix things,” she replied feebly.

“I’m not really sure that’s how this all works,” I said slowly.

“So what do you think is the best way this can work?” she asked.

I thought about it.

***

“I fucking hate bowling!” Lexi roared in frustration as she got her second gutterball in a row. “Why did we even come here?? This place sucks!!”

Four or five people were staring at us by the time Lexi grumpily took her seat. Milo got up to throw his ball, which left Crystal, Taylor, Morgan and myself sitting on the bench. Morgan was nuzzled into my chest, a place she didn’t leave unless she had to. I didn’t object; Morgan and I were still close. You could be close to someone without necessarily being their boyfriend. Taylor avoided eye contact with us as as much as she could; when she did catch herself looking at either of us, she’d blush and look at the floor. Crystal was resuming telling Lexi a story as if Lexi never left halfway through the story, nor had her outburst. Clearly, this was an average day for those two.

“Boom!” Milo cheered in celebration after getting a turkey. “God, I’m getting good at this.”

“You’re a boy, you’ve got stronger arms,” Taylor jeered. “This isn’t fair.”

“Quinn’s a boy, and he’s in last place,” he pointed out. “What’s his excuse?”

“To be fair,” I cut in dryly, “half of my body is numb every time I get up to bowl, thanks to the crushing weight that gets put on me every time I sit down.”

“Shut up,” Morgan lazily slurred back, poking me in the side. 

“‘Broken up,’ my ass,” Lexi spat, not caring that she was cutting Crystal off. “You two’re more attached than ever.”

“People break up in different ways, Lexi,” Taylor replied to her swiftly. “Maybe they’re hurting. We shouldn’t judge, okay?”

“We shouldn’t judge? Coming from you?” Lexi challenged her.

“Coming from me, and everyone else here,” Taylor simply replied.

“Well, it’s dumb. You say you’re broken up, but here you are, doing more PDA than I’ve seen since… well I dunno, but you get my point.”

“Lexi…” I groaned, but Morgan slowly rose up from my side. She raised her hand as if to say, ‘I’ll handle this.’ She didn’t look quite like she could handle it, but that wasn’t helped by her general look – ever since she hit me that day and we… ‘broke up,’ I guess… she never wore any top other than her hoodie, and didn’t use makeup anymore. She joked about it being her ‘post-breakup look’ on the way to bowling.

“Lexi, I know this probably looks weird, or even like I’m compensating, and uh, that’s because I am. I’m hurting, and I’m bad at letting things go. And… uh…” Her voice wavered. She was clearly handling things less well than she’d planned. Tears were forming in the corners of her eyes, and she just froze, likely knowing that if she kept talking, she’d start crying.

“Oh jeez,” Lexi piped up upon seeing the tears. “Hey, hey, it’s okay, I, uh, I was stupid to butt in. You can do what you want. He’s your boyf- uh, he’s… um… yeah, he’s Quinn.”

“You’re so good at this,” Milo teased.

“Fuck off, it’s hard!” Lexi nearly shouted. 

“Come on, did we come here to bowl or to bawl?” Crystal asked us, clearly trying to move things past the awkward moment. “Whose turn is it?”

“It’s Quinn’s,” Milo piped up again, and everyone noticed at the same time that Morgan had now buried her head onto my shoulder. Her shoulders were moving like she was crying, even though I knew that was just her trying to get her breathing back to normal so she wouldn’t cry.

“Oh, fuck,” Crystal murmured.

“Poor Morgan,” Taylor joined in. 

“Want me to bowl for ya?” Milo asked me. 

“Yeah, I could use the handicap,” I joked. “Thanks.”

Milo made a finger gun at me then sauntered up to the lane. I tapped Morgan on the head and quietly asked her, “How’re you doing?”

“I’m clearly getting worse,” she quietly said back into my clothes. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to-”

“I know, I know, you told me, but it’s not like clinging to me wasn’t already giving them the impression,” I replied honestly. She didn’t say anything back, so I pressed on. “Was going to the gym with Taylor nice at least?”

She paused for a few seconds, then got up, and took my hand. “We’re going to get some hot dogs,” she declared to the group. “You all want anything?”

The girls and Milo all awkwardly shook their heads no. Morgan wasn’t playing today anyway, so it didn’t matter. I got up and the two of us walked towards the food counter, and crucially, away from the group.

“The worst part was, it was completely fine. It was like nothing even happened between us when it was just us two,” Morgan reported to me as the worker approached her at the counter. “Hi, could I please get two hot dogs? Thanks.”

“So it’s only awkward when I’m here, huh?” I noted uneasily. 

Morgan’s eyes got misty again. “Stop,” she ordered with a quivering voice. “I’m only happy when you’re here too. I’d deal with every friend having an awkward history with you if it meant getting to have you around.”

“For a few weeks,” I noted. “We’re getting around that time, you know.”

Morgan gave a sad smile and looked to the ground. “I really hate that all that nasty stuff had to happen right before you got your letter from MIT. I was so proud of you, you know. I wanted to do something to celebrate.”

“Hey, you’re not doing so shabby yourself,” I replied. “UMass Amherst has a really good kinesiology program.”

She chuckled. “You can just say ‘UMass,’” she let me know. “And, I mean, we’re both going into the sciences, so at least we’ll have common ground to talk about.”

“Well, I mean…” I awkwardly started. “You’re going into health sciences, so…”

Her smile turned both genuine and challenging. “Oh, don’t you dare,” she mock-threatened me. The two of us laughed, then she paid for the hot dogs and we found a place to sit.

“Should we go back to the group…?” I asked.

“No, I want to eat here if that’s okay,” she replied. “Unless you really want to go back to them.”

“No, no, it’s okay,” I admitted. 

“So, the plan is, after I get settled, I visit you. And you can visit me, if you want. Whenever you want.” She said it so plainly, so matter-of-factly.

“Well, I won’t have a car…” I uneasily replied.

“I will. Unless you’d prefer I not visit you. I can give you space if you want space.”

“I don’t know what I want,” I said slowly.

“I hate that,” she said, losing the friendliness to her voice.

“I know,” I replied quietly. “So do I.”

We ate in silence for a minute or two. “Thanks for the hot dog,” I eventually said.

“Yeah.”

“Y’know…” I awkwardly started. “The thought of losing you, o-or dating someone else, or us fading away from each other’s lives… It does suck. I don’t think I want that. But… nah, I shouldn’t say it.”

“You should,” she said tenderly.

“But… well, the idea of dating you makes me hesitate too. For now. I don’t even know where you fit in my mind.”

“I think I experienced the same feeling, actually, once,” she replied, finishing off her hot dog.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Remember during that night at Taylor’s, and you asked me to make a decision, whether we’d still be together?”

I thought for a second. “Yeah…” I slowly replied, recalling it. “Wait. You said yes.”

“Yes I did.”

“But, this isn’t like that. I’m not sure whether I’d be a yes or a no.”

“I know. But if you recall, you didn’t give me the option. I did tell you that I couldn’t make the decision.” She smiled bashfully. “You told me you wouldn’t accept that. You told me to either say yes or no.”

“So… what, you dated me even if you weren’t sure you wanted to be with me anymore?”

“Yup,” she said, plain as day.

“Wait, but… no, that doesn’t make sense,” I said, the cogs in my mind working overtime. “The next time we saw each other was at school. We kissed. You got me to ask you to be my girlfriend.”

“Yeah, and you may have noticed, I was a lot less involved in it than I am now,” she noted. “But, yeah. I took a chance on you. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling, but told myself, if it was to be, it would… blossom, I guess. And if it wasn’t, I’d just break up with you.” She shivered. “You beat me to it,” she finished with a weak smile.

“So, the movie theater…?” I asked, not even realizing how much my heart was in this discussion.

Her smile turned genuine. “That was when I knew. That was the first time I knew.”

I sat back. “Huh,” was the only thing I could think to say. She took a shot on me, not knowing if she even wanted to, just to see what would happen.

“I suppose I should offer you the same courtesy,” I found myself saying out loud.

To my surprise, she shook her head no. “Expecting you to do that just because I did would be unfair,” she admitted. “I could have maybe hoped, but now that I told you the reason, I can’t ask it of you. That would be guilt-tripping.” She gave me a look and shrugged. “It’s context, I guess, but it was more to say, I know kind of where your head is at. Make the choice you’ll want to make, but I can’t, and won’t, force you. We’re adults, not kids. That’s why we’re going to college. You know what I want, you know what I did. And once you know what you want, you’ll do what you know you have to.” She got up and put her garbage in a nearby trash can, then approached me, still sitting down. “Just know that no matter what you’ll choose, you’ll always be special to me, somehow. I know we only really met in our last few weeks of high school, but you’ll always be my high school sweetheart.”

She leaned down and kissed me on the lips, then made a jokingly disgusted face. “Even if you do like mustard.”

I chuckled. “Thanks, Morgan. You’ve given me a lot to think about.”

“Yeah, I’ve given myself a lot to think about too,” she joked. “I’m sorry this situation has put a lot of pressure on you. Do what you want. I’ll be there for you.”

“Do you mind if I sit here alone for a bit? You should bowl for me.”

She smiled at me. “Sure.” She walked off, leaving me to stare at the table, thinking about everything she just said.

Not knowing what I wanted sucked. I couldn’t shake it, the feeling that Morgan was slipping away between my fingers, but I didn’t even know if I wanted to hold onto her. I didn’t know if I should do what she did and just bite the bullet and hope the relationship would work out. Hell, I wasn’t sure if a relationship could even go through that twice, certainly not after the strategy was laid out before both parties like that. I just had to make a decision about my life. I had to decide whether Morgan was going to be in it, or whether Morgan was going to attempt to be in it for as long as possible before inevitably giving up and fading away. Then we’d only have to look after ourselves in our own lives. It certainly sounded more peaceful… but…

But…

***

“But yeah, it’s been pretty normal with her,” Taylor admitted, flopping down on her beanbag chair. “Like, it’s weird. On one hand, it’s probably the most amount of drama we’ve been through. On the other, this is just how we, like, are. I bet if there wasn’t any drama between us for, like, three months, that would actually be worse for our friendship somehow.”

I nodded and sipped at the starbucks drink she got me, then took another sip. “Huh, this is pretty good,” I admitted. “What is this?”

“Iced coconut milk mocha macchiato,” she said as if that jumble of words came second nature to her. “It came out a few weeks ago. No joke, the first time I tried one, I was all, ‘oh, Quinn is gonna love this.’ Dunno why.”

“Wait, a beverage made you think of me?” I asked. “Why?”

“If only I had just answered that,” Taylor replied, eyelids lowered. She rolled her eyes and sipped her own beverage. “Anyway, how about you?”

“It’s hard to say,” I admitted. “Definitely way more complicated. On a whole we’re okay, but we keep talking about either what was or what will be. Never what is.”

“Ugh, if that isn’t a mood and a half,” Taylor moaned. 

“I’m glad to hear you two are okay. I feel bad for the few times I scared you into thinking she’d drop you as a friend or something.”

“Oh, whatever. I was probably being melodramatic anyway,” she waved it off, whipping out her phone. 

“Yeah, thank you. It’s actually really nice to hear you admit that, if I’m being honest,” I replied, still just awkwardly standing there.

Taylor took her eyes off her phone and a big grin spread on her chipmunk face, even with the straw still in her mouth. I hated how blinding and beautiful that smile was. “Hey Quinn, lil’ secret,” she told me. “When it’s Past Me and not Current Me, I’m as mean to myself as any other bitch.”

“Well, I don’t mean to be mean, just… critical,” I replied slowly, walking on eggshells.

“Cool, that’s what I meant, so yeah,” she replied. She sipped a little more, then admitted, “And speaking of, I’ve been thinking about stuff I said.” She sat up in the beanbag chair and I sat on the floor to face her. “It was probably uncool of me just to, like, bluntly say I’d never sleep with you again when she wasn’t even asking me, so I’m sorry.”

“Uh, hey, it’s cool, no worries,” I replied. “I mean, secrets were coming out anyway, and it’ll probably lead to less drama in the future.”

“I just, I meant what I said,” she kept going, as if I never said a word. “I don’t regret at all that we did it, but that felt… enough, you know? I’m happy we got to share that, and I think Morgan was kinda right, once we started, we kinda needed to see it through, even if it complicated things all to fuck. Sometimes I wonder if we should have hurried up and did it before you dated her.”

“I bet that would have just created different drama,” I replied.

She sipped from her straw. “Yeah, you’re probably right,” she admitted. “I guess I just wanted to say sorry for being, like…”

“Defensive?” I offered.

“I guess? More like… closed-minded. Like, we don’t know what’ll happen down the line. Maybe we’ll do something again if we happen to still see each other a lot. Who knows? Just definitely not like now.”

I moved my lips around in thought. “Taylor, to be completely honest, I want to ditch the ‘who knows.’”

She looked at me with a blank face, asking me wordlessly to continue.

“‘Who knows’ keeps everything ambiguous. You just talked about how important it was to just end things, some things, and not keep them going forever. The anticipation, the unknowing, the complications, it all leads to drama. If this is the way we’re going, I’d rather say ‘we’re going to stop now’ instead of saying ‘we’re going to stop for now.’ The future can still surprise us, but I’d rather go into it at least pretending to know what we want. Let’s admit that we enjoyed what happened, and that we want it to stop. No caveats or conditions. Just, ‘we’re going to stop now.’”

Taylor’s smile grew as I talked. “I think I actually like that, Quinn,” she murmured. “That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard from you. Give me a hug.”

She shot forward from the beanbag chair and gave me a warm, friendly hug. “I, like, totally agree,” she admitted. “That sounds like the best way to go forward with us. As, y’know, friends.”

“As friends,” I agreed.

Her smile got even bigger as she hugged me again.

***

“Okay,” I grunted, flexing my arm from lifting up a whole wardrobe. “What’s next?”

Morgan looked over all of her furniture tightly packed into the U-Haul. “I think that’s everything,” she commented, and sat down on the porch. I nearly collapsed alongside her. Physical labor wasn’t exactly my strong suit, but I agreed to help her, so I wanted to see the job done.

I panted a few times, looking over our handiwork. “So what’s next?”

“Tomorrow, Doug and I drive to my new place, and I leave with my stuff.”

“What, you’re doing both the packing and unpacking?” I asked. “That’s gotta be exhausting.”

Morgan chuckled and grabbed one of my hands, starting to play with it. “No, there’s some kind of program there. Some of the current student clubs help out with moving furniture in exchange for their time at the school clubs fair or something. It actually seems like a good system. I’ll be doing some of the lifting, but not all.”

“Oh, okay,” I replied with a nod. “Otherwise you’d ask me to come with you and help you there, I assume?”

“Oh come on, I’m not using you that much,” Morgan chuckled again, teasingly pushing my chest. Upon seeing her hand approach me, I winced and my hands went up in defense. 

She paused, then quietly moved her hands back to her side. “…Can I put my arm on your shoulder?” she asked timidly.

“Yeah, of course,” I replied. “I’m sorry, I dunno why I reacted the way I did.”

“You’re saying sorry because I did something terrible once,” she scoffed, putting her arm around me. “Stop that. I should be the one to apologize every time you do that.”

“I mean, it wasn’t even that hard. It didn’t actually hurt… well, I mean, physically.” My voice was as small as her. 

“Yo, move,” the assertive voice of Doug rang from behind us. I turned around to see him holding a box of something, and awkwardly shifted with Morgan’s arm around me to the edge of the porch. It didn’t give him enough room, so I lifted her arm off of me and walked off the porch to let Doug pass, then walked back, opting to remain standing.

“What’s in the box?” Morgan called out.

“Kitchen stuff. Mom and dad are giving it to you. They can tell you what’s in it,” he called back, finding a place to put it. 

Morgan and I looked back at each other, now in front of each other instead of next to each other. “I don’t blame you,” I continued. “For anything. People get mad in certain ways.”

“I’ve never hit anyone before,” she replied.

“Maybe you never got that mad at someone before,” I replied. “I was being a little… confrontational.”

“You’re seriously going to blame yourself for me hitting you? And for getting scared if I ever playfully, like, push you?” She rolled her eyes, even if sorrowfully. “C’mon. It’s okay. I just hope it’ll go away. I don’t want it to ever happen again.”

“I think I’d rather be okay with it being a part of you at your worst if it ever does happen again,” I replied thoughtfully. “If I truly believe it’ll never happen again, and it happens, then what?”

“Then I never deserved you,” Morgan scoffed, looking away.

“You deserve a lot, Morgan.”

“You’re more than a lot.” She said it effortlessly, as if it were obvious. “Want to scan over my room one last time? In case we forgot anything.”

“Sure,” I said with a shrug, offering my hand to help her stand up. The two of us left Doug outside and went inside, kicking off our shoes.

“Hey, Morgan!” Mr. Jones’ voice rang from the kitchen. “Did you get the box?”

“Doug brought it out to the truck, yeah,” Morgan replied swiftly.

“Do you think it’s enough?” Mrs. Jones added. “We know the cooking area will likely be small, but…”

“I don’t know, I never got to see what was inside. Doug told me to ask you.”

“We told Doug to show you what was inside,” Mr. Jones said back annoyedly.

“Well, he didn’t do that,” Morgan replied.

“Can you go outside and ask him to-”

“Can it wait a bit?” Morgan asked impatiently. “I, uh, have one more thing I need to do.”

Mr. Jones snorted. “Sure,” he said with a clearly frustrated voice.

The two of us went upstairs, with Morgan taking the lead, me in tow. “Why couldn’t you just ask Doug?” I asked.

“I didn’t really want to talk to him right now,” she answered. “It’s going to turn into some kind of ‘I’m better than you and know more’ speech from him somehow, or something is going to be my fault when it isn’t, and I’m under a lot of pressure as it is, and I just wanted to come here where it’s either going to be silent or your voice.” She flopped down on the bed (which she was allowed to keep in this room since her new dorm came with a bed), and Cheesecake started noisily bouncing around in his cage. “Or Cheesecake.”

Morgan was clearly under a lot of stress. I wasn’t sure if she really stopped drinking, but whether she had or hadn’t, she never mentioned it and never was even tipsy around me anymore, so clearly she was putting in the effort. It was clear that a lot was going on in her life right now, and, dumbly, only at that moment was when something clicked.

It was easy to see me and her friend group as the only things in her life, but Morgan had a whole life she was dealing with, and clearly, a lot of pressure. Maybe just from her family, maybe more. Sure, there was cheating and insults and hitting and breakups, but I couldn’t look at it as only that one night. Maybe things at home had been difficult for a while. I never asked. Maybe she was feeling inadequate, and was too shy to outright say that, even with her blunt nature. I never asked. Maybe her being single was hitting her doubly hard because not only was she losing me, she was losing her biggest supporter unabashedly being there for her, even if I was hesitantly there for her in other ways.

I never asked.

“Why are you still around, anyway?” Morgan asked. “You can move in any time now, right? MIT is farther away. Why’d you stay?”

I shrugged. “To be honest, a lot of it is probably just Mother,” I answered. “You know her – she both wants me out of the house making something of myself as soon as possible, and wants me under her roof for as long as she can make me until I have to go.”

Morgan nodded. “Yeah, that sounds like her,” she admitted. “How is she lately? I haven’t seen her in a while.”

“Oh, she’s like she always is,” I admitted. “Probably stressed with the whole empty nest thing. Father is too, but he’s, uh… emotionally stunted, I think, if I’m being honest.”

Morgan sat up and nodded, listening intently.

“I mean, I had to get it from someone,” I laughed nervously.

“I don’t think you’re emotionally stunted at all,” she replied. “I think you’re actually more like your mom than your dad. In a good way.”

“My mom’s a tradition-or-nothing fascist,” I joked.

“What’s your dad?” she asked with a smirk.

“A crash test dummy in a suit that learned about emotions by reading a book once,” I laughed. “I guess, yeah. I certainly stir the pot like she does.”

“You have your moments,” Morgan agreed. “How did she react to learning that we broke up?”

My mouth opened immediately, then slowly closed.

It didn’t take long for Morgan to catch on. “You never told her,” she murmured.

I scratched the back of my head. “Just because of the nature of how we broke up, it seemed… unwise. Everything is so volatile right now, and it feels like how we’re adopting changes every week, if not every day, and…” I hung my head. “Yeah. I should have told her. I will soon, I promise.”

I lifted my head and, to my surprise, saw Morgan smiling sweetly. “No, it’s okay,” she nearly whispered. “This is actually… I dunno, it’s kind of sweet. It’s like the one still living memory of it we have.”

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy playing along every so often,” I admitted, sitting down next to her. “God, we’re weird.”

“We’re not weird, our friendship is,” Morgan replied, playing with my hand again. “And, y’know, I could deal with us never being boyfriend and girlfriend again if we can just have what we have now. I’d, like, miss it, obviously, but… I’m still really lucky.”

“We’re still really lucky,” I corrected her.

She nodded. “Boyfriend and girlfriend are just labels anyway. There are boyfriends and girlfriends that hate each other. There are friends that love each other more than most couples will ever love. Like, even romantically, not just… emotional love or whatever.” She turned my hand over and started tracing lines on my palm.

“And then there’s whatever we are,” I said jokingly. I didn’t know why, but towards the end of that sentence, it felt like my heart caught up into my throat. I looked at Morgan, and she looked up from my hand at me, and at once, we were kissing again.

We still kissed occasionally since the breakup, but it was getting rarer and rarer; it was like the reality of our breakup was only slowly settling in. Plus, our more recent kisses were getting more and more tame and polite, as opposed to passionate. Not like this. This was like… two teens that recently broke up, kissing in the girl’s room with both teens knowing it was going to be the last time they lived in the same city for a very long time.

Our kisses weren’t tame, nor polite. They were invasive, and hungry, and knowing. We knew our situation, and we knew what came next. We knew this would be the last time, and above all, we knew what we wanted. We had gone from embracing each other in our arms to me being on top of her, our lips locked, our tongues fighting, my pelvis grinding against hers. Our lips practically never left each other’s in that time. 

As our lips departed, our eyes opened at the same time. Her beautiful green eyes carried a want – no, a need that needed to be fulfilled. Couple or not, and at this point, who the hell knew, it was clear that this felt right, and okay. This is what we both wanted.

“Do you feel it too?” I practically whispered.

“I want to have sex with you,” she agreed. “If you want it with me. If that’s too much, I understand.”

“No, it’s okay,” I reassured her. “Just as long as you know that it doesn’t mean-”

“It means us sharing this moment together, and that’s all I care about,” she breathed.

We kissed again, briefly, and broke away. Instead of changing at the same time, she just smiled as I took off my shirt.

“You look good,” she remarked.

I chuckled. It felt like our ‘breakup’ happened just recently, but a fair bit of time had actually elapsed. Long enough to make the break between meaningful, anyway. As silly as it seemed, us seeing each other naked again was a big thing for us. I jokingly flexed with my shirt off, knowing I didn’t really have any noticeable muscles or anything, but Morgan just chuckled and bit her lip. 

“Oh come on,” I laughed. “There’s nothing here.”

“You’re you,” she said sweetly. “I’ve learned to see that as the most attractive thing ever.”

I smiled and shook her head. If we didn’t get back together, God help her next boyfriend. I took my pants and socks off, then stopped, motioning to her, smiling.

She gave a nervous smile and got up off the bed, fiddling with her blouse. I was glad to see her wearing something other than old hoodies again. She was even wearing makeup again, even if it was seemingly just for me today. When the blouse was off, she modeled herself in her bra and jeans, grabbing her hefty boobs and squeezing them a little, winking at me. 

I shook my head, smiling. “They’re easier to work with without the bra in the way, you know.”

“Wow, good suggestion,” she sarcastically quipped, reaching behind her and undoing the bra. I could see her holding her breath and the bra fell off her chest, revealing her breasts in all their glory to me. Her nipples were clearly already hard, something that happened frequently after our kissing sessions. She resumed playing with her breasts for me, this time rolling her nipples between her fingers and closing her eyes sensually.

“It’s better when you play with them,” she breathed.

“Want to leave the pants on or off?” I asked.

“Get over here.”

Moments later, Morgan was up against the wall, moaning and cooing lightly as I kissed and licked her left nipple whilst playing with the right with my free hand. Morgan’s left hand was busy against the wall keeping her steady while her right was sliding up and down the crotch of my pants, tracing and rubbing over my dick print. She could definitely feel it moving and jumping in my pants, though to be fair, I could hear her heartbeat through her chest, and knew her pussy was throbbing too.

My tongue, lips, and teeth all worked tirelessly to make her moan, and soon she was, as loudly as she thought she could get away with given her parents were downstairs. We were used to being quieter when they were home, but given they knew we had broken up, today of all days wouldn’t have been a great day to get caught. 

After a few minutes, Morgan gently brought my head up and then, suddenly, forced me against the wall, where she feverishly ground up against me and made out for a few more seconds. It was clear what was coming next.

“D-do you have…” I breathed once the kiss ended.

“Shit. Fuck,” Morgan cursed, then thought to herself.

“It’s okay, we can j-”

No. Either you’re telling me to stop or this is happening,” Morgan insisted. “I don’t fucking care. Do you care?”

Morgan’s chest rose and fell with her breathing, and eventually her eyes got misty. I looked at her intently, probably mirroring her look. We both could see the look in each others’ eyes.

“We’re supposed to be safe,” I said weakly. “You could get pregnant. We’re going to different cities.”

“It’s a safe time in my cycle,” she replied quickly. “I can get a morning-after pill. I’ll handle it. We’ll be safe.”

A silence tore between us. “It’s either that or we stop,” she added.

“We’re really going to do this? As a choice?” I asked her.

“I think you already know the answer,” she replied. “Do you want me to convince you either way?”

I shook my head. “You’re taking care of everything, right? We’re being safe?” Morgan eagerly nodded and got onto the bed, laying down.

“Okay,” I cautiously replied, feeling giddy. We were going to have unprotected sex. I was going to be completely inside Morgan, on purpose. “From the front or from behind?” I asked.

“I want to look you in the eyes,” she requested. “If this is our last time…”

I was tempted to add, “And who knows if it is?” But that was a Who Knows. I needed to be a man of my word. The future will speak for itself, and our bodies will tell us when they’ve decided. In the here and now, we just knew that, whatever we were, we wanted this. Once we were in position we locked eyes, and smiled. 

There was a nervousness I felt while lining myself up with her. It was similar to my first time. Our first time together. This heady giddy nervousness that made us smile as we locked eyes and I slid inside. I think Morgan felt it too, because I could see the giddiness in her face, and I could feel the eagerness throughout her whole body.

She shuddered, feeling me sink inside her. Her hand went down to her clit, instantly starting to play with it, her eyes going back. “Fuck,” she moaned. 

I allowed her some time to get used to the intrusion then slowly began to move my hips back and forth, her little moans getting me into a good rhythm. I felt the joy of our entire relationship and beyond flood me as I’m sure Morgan felt the same feelings flooding her.

I gripped the bedsheets, working my hips for all they were worth to ram her. I knew how she liked it. This was Morgan’s favorite. I was Morgan’s favorite, and I was going to give her exactly what she wanted. Reaching forward, I gripped her neck, making sure to put pressure at the sides of her neck. Morgan adopted this cute longing look as she realized what I was doing.

“Look at you, being confident…” she moaned.

“You want it,” I growled back. 

Her hands went up to stroke my arms, feel my chest, anything she could do to feel close to me. She started audibly moaning, her body shaking. Her eyes refocused on mine, and her face transformed into a squinty smile, even with my hand on her neck.

“That all you got?” she purred. Her pelvis started going up to meet mine, challenging me. Both her words and her body were asking me who was in charge, and I was determined to win this battle.

I moved my hips back more, slamming into her, making the bed itself start to move. I took my hand off of her throat, looked at her cocky smile, and playfully yet with just enough force, slapped her across the face. She instantly moaned and arched her back, enjoying herself thoroughly. 

“Who owns you?” I demanded.

Her eyes refocused. “Who? Nobody. We broke up, remember?”

“Don’t play games,” I told her, slamming into her particularly hard for full effect. “You already know in your heart. Use your words, Morgan. Who has full access to your body?”

“Ungghhh…” she moaned, feeling a wave of pleasure take up her body. “You do, Quinnnn…” 

I moved my hips around while inside her, stopping my thrusting for just a moment, letting her feel me fully in her for a few seconds more. “And why do I have full access?”

“Because I’m yoursss…” she moaned. “I’m your slut, Quinn. I’m your anything. Your friend, your fuckbuddy, your soulmate. Fucking name it, I’m yours.”

I smiled, and kissed her deeply. “Good girl,” I growled before resuming my act. With every thrust, Morgan was beginning to grip me more and more tightly. Every slam of my dick inside of her tight, eager, beautiful pussy made it more and more clear that Morgan was about to climax. 

Morgan made a new sound I’d never heard from her before as she came. It was indescribable. It was like a mix of rapture and pure fulfillment. I felt her body practically vibrating on the bed, feeling her inner walls ripple, and knew that if I didn’t get off too, she’d always remember that about this last hoorah of ours. So I kept going, lowering my head, knowing her climax was still surging through her but hoping she’d still enjoy my continued efforts as I now focused just a little more on myself.

I felt her hot breath on my ear as I kept going. “Do it, Quinn,” she whispered. “Fuck me. I want you to cum for me. Please. I want to remember this moment forever. This is so special to me. You’re so special to me.”

Her words kept me going, and right when I was getting close, I felt a surge of realization hit me. I knew in my head that this was going to be our last time for a while, even if we got back together later on, but only now did my heart know. This was us saying goodbye to each other, or at least, promising to see each other later. 

“I… I love you, Morgan…” I managed.

“I love you too,” she moaned with no hesitation. “I always will. I’m so happy we’re here, like this. Please… please do it.”

My mind was in a fog, a fog named Morgan. Just as much as she was mine, I was hers, and we both knew it. Our lives belonged to each other, even if they wouldn’t in the future. We were here, now, with each other, and it was everything we needed. All of the pain of our worst moments, all of the awkwardness, all of the drama, and the thought of anyone else, all melted away when I felt my orgasm approach.

I’m sure I made an equally dumb sound when I shot my load inside her. One thing was for sure: it felt like the largest load I’d ever shot in my life. And it was inside Morgan. I almost lamented it being the last time with her for a second, but just as the biggest wave of pleasure hit me, I could hear a little voice in my imagination telling me:

“You don’t actually think this is going to be your last time with her, do you? Come on.”

I came down from my high, breathing and wheezing, feeling her supportive hands caressing my back. My lips were lazily leaving little kisses on her neck between breaths. Our skin was covered in a sheen of sweat, our hair all over the place. 

Morgan spoke first, once our breathing had calmed down. “What a note to end on. I’m so happy we did this.”

“I bet your parents heard what we did…” I nervously replied.

I slid out of her and collapsed next to her as she shrugged. “They were teenagers once. I’m sure they get this stuff is complicated. They’re probably not thrilled if they just heard their daughter doing it, but… who cares?”

I turned to her and grinned. “Why do I feel like you never had that attitude with any other person you’ve been with?”

She grinned back, still staring at the ceiling. “Ha, yup. You got it.” She shifted to look at me. “I assume this doesn’t change what we are…?”

“Do you think it does?” I asked.

She shook her head no with a slight smile. “I don’t think so, still feels like limbo to me. I just wanted to check.”

“Limbo sounds good for now. Feelings are so complex.”

“Fuck brains.”

I chuckled. “Yup, fuck brains.” I paused, then looked back at the ceiling. “Can I be cheesy for a bit?”

“Go ahead.”

“I feel like our souls have already figured it out,” I started slowly. “I think they already know what’s in store for us, but it just takes a while to reach our minds and bodies. I think our souls have made the decision, and we’ll just find out what that decision is.”

“Hmm,” she hummed. “Yeah, that was cheesy.” We shared a chuckle. “I hope our bodies and minds catch up quickly then.”

We lay there for a bit and started spooning when she sighed happily. “I think I know what you mean,” she said.

“Yeah?”

“I think it doesn’t come all at once. Like, I don’t know if it’s in our destiny to be boyfriend and girlfriend again, but…”

“We’re still going to be very involved in each other’s lives, yeah,” I finished softly.

She turned back to look at me. “That was, no lie, almost word for word what I was going to say.” She kissed me on the nose, then turned back around. “We should probably get dressed soon. Even if they didn’t hear, mom and dad probably have more things for us to do.”

“We have a whole future to prepare for,” I added.

“I’m excited,” Morgan nearly whispered. And, to be honest, I got it. I was too. Once I calmed down from my orgasm, I expected the pain of our past to come back to me – it hung like a cloud over me ever since our fight – but… it hadn’t come back yet. Maybe it was gone. Maybe this was our time to move on and become… whatever we were going to become next. It was going to be nothing like what we were before, but that was okay.

“And…” she added, impossibly even quieter than before. “…Thanks for not giving up on me. I know I gave you a lot of reasons.”

“You gave me more reasons to stay,” I told her warmly. “That’s why I’m still here. And even when you move away, I’ll still be here.”

She turned back. “Here?” she asked jokingly, motioning around her room. 

I shook my head no. “Here,” I replied emphatically, pointing to her heart.

She grinned and lifted her head up fully, throwing her pillow at me. “That was the cheesiest shit ever!” she complained with a laugh. I laughed too, but I was also happy. I didn’t wince when she threw the pillow. I didn’t feel the need to defend myself. I just… felt fine. I felt really fine.

It was crazy how, only a few months ago, I would have given up anything to be someone else. I wasn’t excited to be me. I guess I was still looking forward to being someone else at this point, but that was because I was looking forward to seeing who I was going to become, knowing Morgan was still in my life, knowing that we didn’t lose each other after all. I was excited to be me, and I was excited to see what kind of me I would be in the future. Even if I was moving away, I knew that I had friends like Taylor and Lexi and Milo and Crystal. And after a lengthy test of our bond, I had Morgan. And we were going to discover our futures together, being there for each other every step of the way. 

________________________________________

These stories are made possible by the generous patrons at my Patreon. If you enjoy reading these stories, please consider contributing to my Patreon to help keep me writing and get yourself a few perks along the way.

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8 thoughts on “Mutual Benefits – Chapter 20

  1. That was, an end, I guess? You do like to leave things up in the air with your stories. I liked the story, I truly did. But one day I hope you get to go for it, be decisive and actually end the story just not leave it open to anyone guess or interpretation with little or no direction pretty much like you got tired of it and just abandoned it. Real life sucks enough about uncertainties and stuff and I don’t want my usual escape from reality to have such a lukewarm ending after more than a year and a half invested on it. Thank you for another wonderful story. I enjoyed it greatly until this chapter. It only sucks big time knowing that there isn’t anything after this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done. After all the past drama… Sometimes it is good to tie the ends, sometimes it is good to leave them open. I feel you have done well.

    I remember after finishing the prior chapter, I wrote I would be fine in various ending. What I fell now … You have done well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not gonna lie, I’m actually satisfied with this series finale. However, there is one thing that bothers me: The condom. I know they need to be safe and all, but honestly, if there was a moment where they should have risk it and let fate decide, it would be this one. Even if nothing happens and she doesn’t get pregnant, I feel like the condom just made the moment feel slightly less meaningful, but that’s only my opinion. Other than that, I cannot wait to see more of your future projects.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Simply remarkable. I never thought I’d find an erotic story more complex and emotionally provoking than “Being More Social” but I think this one takes the cake. What I love about you’re stories is that Quinn or Adam are so average. They are painfully relatable , and their experiences, at least in the beginning of the story, are experiences myself, and a great deal of your readers have experienced first hand. Their triumphs are what our high school fantasies were. Thank you so much for articulating all the messed up emotions and fantasies of the very average, ordinary teenager. Please keep on writing, you have an incredible gift with character’s emotional development. BRAVO 👏 👏

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Man, this was such a great story. Had fun reading through it. You definitely are a great writer. That thing just reflects through your writings of BMS, MB, and TGTB&TM. Such incredible stories they are.

    One thing I am quite guilty about is that I couldn’t give anything back to you through your Patreon right now. In fact, I can’t believe I am saying this, But I would have liked to see freaking ads before reading such great stories.

    But one this is for sure, when I am finally able to do it, you will be the 1st person that I will support through Patreon. Thanks for these amazing stories once again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words, and don’t worry about the Patreon. Make sure your needs are being met first. These stories are shared with everyone, regardless of how rich they are. That’s deliberate. WordPress doesn’t like to run ads through websites that feature sex content, so for now, Patreon and commissions serve me well.

      Like

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