Chapter Ten

"What time is it?" Dusk asked, not quite managing to suppress a yawn.

Isaac lifted his wrist.

"Hey, it's almost nine thirty... No, my watch must be goofing. We can't possibly have been sitting here that long."

Dusk leaned over from where she was, to get the clock on the wall in her view. They were sitting on the floor of the Hansons' living room, their backs against a sofa.

"Think again... We have."

"Wow... When did Taylor leave?"

"Around the beginning of sexuality, I think," she laughed. "For someone who's portrayed as the quiet one, he sure got annoyed at not getting a word in edgewise."

He groaned.

"Tell me 'bout it... He plays on it so much."

"Plays on what?"

"Plays on his looks. You've probably noticed. He can look so innocent. I guess he brings out the maternal instincts of all them screaming girls... And he has this way of focusing his eyes, and setting his jaw, that makes him look really deep and sad, like he knows all the secrets of the world."

Dusk was awkwardly remembering a certain someone who had been thinking of that exact look not very long ago.

"I have no idea if he just fakes it, I mean, I know he thinks a lot and stuff, but I know for a fact he totally eats it up when people are gushing over him. And they tend to."

"Aw... Are you experiencing heartwrenching torments over this issue? Do you need help dealing with them?" she cooed, pretending to coax him, draping her arm protectively around his shoulder.

He hid his face in his hands, leaning in towards her.

"Yes! Yes! Please help me, Dr. Dusk! I've been hiding it for so long!"

She hmmmed, rubbing her chin with one hand.

"I beleev dis can be helpt, but yoo must bee avay from dee catalist of dee proplem. Vould yoo bee villink to gife up dee monay an dee fame and everytink dat goes vit it?" *author's note* Sorry if this is hard to understand. It's supposed to be a "Freudesque" accent. Translation available at request.

He lifted his head, his eyes screwed up in thought.

"Nah. I'll just go with it. I can buy me enough Prozac to sedate an army."

"Vatever yoo say, darlink..." she said, making a face. He copied her.

She suddenly became acutely aware that they were sitting, in fact, very close. Lowering her eyes to his mouth, she wondered what he would do if she leaned about four inches forward and kissed him.

I have to stop thinking stuff like this. I'm going to get a very twisted relationship to the concept of hanging out.

She raised her eyes, only to face his. He was watching her, his brown eyes turning intense. She was, in accordance with the instinctive rule that says there's a limit to how long you look someone in the eyes, going to turn her head away, but found herself involuntarily frozen. She could feel her eyes widening, and traveling to his mouth. She parted her lips slightly, inhaling to say something, still not a single sound crossing them. He did the same, his bottom lip almost quivering. His brows knotted, his eyes showing a frustration probably very similar to hers. She was at that point thinking that she had a) no idea what to do and b) no idea what she wanted to happen. She bit her bottom lip, not even realizing that she was holding her breath.

He inched closer, hesitantly nearing his head to hers. Right then, she felt so badly like just violently lunging forward, but it was as if something was keeping her back. All she could do was tilt her head slightly towards him, at this small distance the difference in height more noticeable. When his face was so close to hers that she could feel his breath, warm and rapid, on her mouth, he stopped. His eyes moved from hers, to her mouth, and back. She felt as if he was looking right into her core, blocking everything else out.

The final second before his lips touched hers, still hesitant, seemed infinite, the last millionth of an inch between them impossible to cross. Then they kissed, and she couldn't help smiling under his lips, causing his mouth to stretch into a grin as well. Kissing and smiling at the same time isn't very easy. He leaned back, no more than an inch or two, and softly bumped his forehead against hers.

"That wasn't very nice," he said, now grinning madly.

"Well, I'm a really nasty person," she said, her brain going into overdrive.

He lifted his right hand, two fingers touching the tiny silver dolphin on a choker around her neck.

"Yeah. You're despicable," he said, softly. "Yuck. And you've probably got cooties too."

She laughed silently, and turned her head to the left, sticking the tip of her right thumb in her mouth. He lightly smacked at it, shaking his head sternly. She took it out and pouted, exaggerating.

Out of the blue, he kissed her again. She raised the hand she'd had by her mouth, not knowing what she wanted to do with it, and rested it, still closed, on his shoulder.

Part of a song entered her head, and she smiled again.

"What?" he laughed, sitting back to look at her.

"I... Nothing."

They sat, quiet, looking at each other. What do you say now? Dusk wondered, despairingly.

"Wanna listen to some music?"

"Sure. I should probably be getting back though."

"Yeah. I'll just..."

He got up, and headed for a bookcase that held CD's. He picked one up and inserted it into the stereo system, twisting the volume knob to low with a look towards the door.

She recognized the song after a few chords, and then realized what song it was. The lyrics had been going through her mind less than five minutes earlier.

It's all too much
It's all too much
When I look into your eyes
Your love is there for me
And the more I go inside
The more there is to see.
It's all too much for me to take
The love that's shining all around you...

She sniffed silently, in something that might have been a laugh had it been louder.

"I, um... I should go. I need sleep."

"Okay. Are... I mean... Is it okay for me to hug you?"

She pursed her lips, pretending to be considering, and then slipped into the arms he'd raised slightly *there I go again*, standing on tiptoe to face something other than his chest.

She was an affectionate person, and could hug people spontaneously. But as a lot of people know, a hug is not always just a hug. A quick squeeze for your dad isn't the same as having your arms around a guy you've just kissed.

It was, all the same, a very quick hug, mainly because Dusk was startled, unprepared for the way she'd felt with his arms around her back. She'd always loved the feeling of being embraced, but this was a total resignation, her body just giving up and saying; "Okay, I'll just go to sleep here, if you don't mind."

He looked at her, uncertainly, and gestured towards the hall.

"Well, I'll walk you to the door."

Dusk was tying her shoelaces when he, quite visibly, had an idea.

"You've got school stuff to do, right?"

She nodded, a look of utter distaste on her face.

"Why don't you come get tooted with us, while you're here? Give you some company..."

"Tooted?" she laughed. He smiled.

"Yeah... We couldn't all speak clearly, and then it sort of stuck, I guess."

"Yeah, sure. Why not. I've got to do my assignments anyway. Maybe your 'tooterer' can help me."

She opened the door, and turned her head.

"Well... Bye..."

"Bye. See you tomorrow."

She waved and let the door close behind her.

Boy, is my subconscious ever going to have a field day tonight, she thought, climbing up the steps to her temporary home.

Chapter Eleven
Chapter Nine