DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
TIMELINE: Set during and after the final episode of series two.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ralst31[at]yahoo.co.uk
After the Christmas Party
Friendships had survived worse than this, Susan thought, possibly not in living memory, but it had to have happened at some point, right? I mean, she couldn't have been the only drunk, sexually frustrated, recent divorcee to fall into bed with her female flatmate and new best friend, could she?
"You're over thinking this," said Jenny, her tone as cool and collected as ever, despite the nerve shattering hangover Susan knew she had to be suffering. "It was the staff Christmas party," Jenny added, oblivious to Susan's horror stricken expression or the kamikaze kids on bikes weaving in and out of view as she pulled into the school car park.
Susan wanted to point out that, yes, it had been the staff Christmas party, but that didn't mean there wouldn't be repercussions to their alcohol-infused decision to get naked and explore each other's erogenous zones. "I should have just shagged Brian," she mumbled, referring to Jenny's suggestion from the night before.
"You'd have preferred Brian over me?" Jenny sounded both insulted and stupefied; she wasn't a vain woman, as such, but the idea that anyone could prefer the lumbering P.E. teacher to her was just inconceivable.
It was a question to which, Susan felt, there was no right answer, so she decided to go with the truth, not so much as a moral decision, but a practical one, her hangover having robbed her of imaginative thought. "No." From the expectant look on Jenny's face, Susan could tell that a one word answer just wasn't going to cut it. "It's just that Brian, for all his many and varied faults, would have been the less complicated choice."
"Hmm." Jenny looked pleased, or at least non-homicidal, at the answer, so Susan allowed herself to relax. "But would he have been able to go all night?"
The smile burst onto Susan's face before she could stop it and with it came a thunderous crescendo of pain. "Oww!" Her head exploding, her friendship uncertain, but her libido well and truly satisfied, Susan stumbled from the car and towards the last day of term.
Thoughts of the night before had been popping into Jenny's head all morning and interrupting what otherwise would have been a perfectly foul December morning. She wasn't normally the type of woman to replay sexual encounters for later gratification, but she found herself staring out of her classroom window, ignoring the bored teenage tearaways she was meant to be terrifying into actually learning something, and remembering over and over the feel of Susan's lips as they left a trail of kisses along her neck.
The school bell indelicately broke in upon the memory and Jenny quickly bade her students to depart, and made her way towards the canteen, and dried turkey dinner, and Susan.
"Two hours, twenty-three minutes and ten seconds," she said as she sat down, earning a somewhat less than pleased look from Susan in the process.
"Wouldn't you rather be down the pub?"
Jenny thought, but didn't say, that she'd much rather be back at the flat, snuggled under the duvet, and keeping each other occupied with something far more entertaining than Shakespeare's soliloquies. "Do you think Brian and Kurt have ever slept together?"
"What?" It was not a mental image that Susan wanted or needed, but now, thanks to Jenny, it was superimposed on her brain. "No!"
The answer pleased Jenny. "So, if living, working and drinking together year after year hasn't ended with the two of them in bed together, at least once, we can't really use that as an excuse for yesterday." Not that Jenny wanted or needed an excuse. Months before, when she'd been with Alec and Susan had been driven mad by their constant shagging, she'd suggested a threesome, and although it had been taken in jest, and meant that way for the most part, she'd also been deadly serious.
"We were drunk." Susan's assertion lacked conviction.
Jenny smiled. "Yes, we were." She could have pointed out that they'd been drunk together on numerous occasions or that they'd hardly been the only two people at the Christmas party, but she didn't feel it was necessary, Susan knew as well as she did that their night of passion couldn't be attributed to just the alcohol. "I spoke to Brian earlier," she said, remembering with relish the look of bewildered confusion on his face the night before, when Susan had backed out of their proposed shag to go home with her. "He asked if you'd be up for a shag after school." A pause. "I said 'no' on your behalf."
The idea of sleeping with Brian, however out of left-field, had been mildly palatable the night before, but since waking up with Jenny she couldn't fathom ever wanting to share that experience with her lumbering buffoon of a friend. "Thank you."
Silence descended as both women faked interest in their lunch. Susan looked across at Jenny, a half conceived sentence formulating on her lips, only to be interrupted by an oddly merry and overly informative Bob. "I just popped home for half an hour," he said, taking the seat opposite. "I suggested oral sex. Just mentioned it, you know, in passing. The next thing I know she's heading south. This is after we've done it doggy-style on the upstairs landing. I don't know what's got into her; except me, three times last night and twice this lunch time."
Susan and Jenny shared a look of appalled horror. If one thing was guaranteed to turn their thoughts away from their own sex lives, it was hearing, in far too much detail, about Bob's.
The school bell rang signalling the end of term and hoards of overly excited teenagers began to stream out of the building. Jenny and Susan followed in their wake, slowly pulling on their coats as child after child rushed passed them. "So, that's it," said Susan.
"Hmmm," murmured Jenny, in a tone that defied even the hint of enthusiasm.
"I thought that's what you wanted, the end of term?"
"Yep, but it's only..." Jenny interrupted whatever she'd been about to say and turned to get a really good look at Susan. "Are we ever going to talk about last night?"
"We did talk about it." Susan avoided eye contact by concentrating, really hard, on buttoning her denim jacket. "Pub?"
If they ended up at the pub, as usual, they'd just get drawn into whatever silly game the boys were playing, and the time to discuss what had happened would have passed, never to be repeated. As a get-out-clause it had some merit, and Jenny could see the appeal, but it paled into insignificance against the appeal of Susan herself. "Let's go home."
"Home?" A return to the scene of the crime, or at least the scene of the sex, would make Susan's goal of pretending it never happened next to impossible, but then again, as she lived there, she could hardly avoid it forever. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather go down the pub?" If she couldn't avoid the conversation, she thought dosing herself with liquid courage might at least give her the strength to see it through or, failing that, soften the blow.
"No." Jenny grabbed the sleeve of Susan's coat and pulled her towards the car park.
The flat was just as they'd left it that morning; warm, tidy, smelling faintly of alcohol and containing, somewhere not immediately obvious to the naked eye, a slightly worse-for-wear bra. The item in question had been rendered little more than a rag in Susan's haste to remove it from Jenny's body, and once removed, it had been thrown cavalierly over her shoulder to land God knows where.
"Do you want a drink?" Jenny asked, interrupting Susan's train of thought and frantic perusal of the living room. "There's some wine in the fridge."
They'd bought the wine together the week before; they did that now, shop together, like an old married couple, discussing their week's menu and whether or not they planned on inviting guests back to their place. It was almost identical to being married, Susan thought, except there was far less arguing and she'd never felt like stabbing Jenny through the eye with a fork.
"Is that a wise idea?" Drinking down the pub, surrounded by their friends, was one thing, but drinking alone in the flat, only yards away from two double beds, was just asking for trouble.
Jenny looked puzzled. "I thought you wanted -"
"I did." Susan saw a glimpse of something red peeking out from beneath the couch and craned her neck in an attempt to see more clearly. She'd thought, in the dim light, that Jenny's bra had been more mauve than red, but the alcohol sloshing around her system might well have sepia toned her memory. "But perhaps it would be safer to stay sober?"
"What, are you afraid you'll lose control and start ripping my clothes off, again?" The words, mixed with the teasing smile, sent Susan a red-hot reminder of the passion they'd shared the night before.
"No!" That was, of course, exactly what Susan was worried about. "Do we really need to do this?"
Jenny placed the bottle and two glasses down in front of Susan. "Yes." She sloshed two generous measures of wine into each glass, before taking a seat on the couch and beckoning for Susan to join her. "If we don't talk about it, things will get weird, and I don't want that."
"Couldn't we just be terribly British and pretend it didn't happen?" The slight narrowing of Jenny's eyes and deathly silence was all the answer Susan needed and she quickly took a seat. "So, last night."
"We had sex."
"And we enjoyed it."
The facts straight, so to speak, Jenny turned the conversation to the real sticking point. "So, what does that mean?" She didn't wait for Susan to blame it on the alcohol or the Christmas season. "Other than we're sexually compatible, obviously fancy each other on some level, and are both less than rigid in our sexuality."
"Does it have to mean anything?" Susan asked, despite her mind's inability to think of anything other than the fact that Jenny fancied her. "On what level?"
"You said you fancied me, on some level, what does that mean?"
"I said we fancied each other." It was Susan's turn to employ silent disapproval. "Well, I wouldn't have slept with you if I didn't find you attractive, obviously, but I guess it's more than that." Jenny much preferred it when she was the one asking the questions but with Susan it never seemed to be that simple. "I like you."
"We like spending time together." At first, Susan had been very much Simon's friend, and viewed Jenny with the same jaundiced eye as the rest of his cronies, but as they'd got to know each other, outside of Simon's complaints and obvious infatuation, they'd discovered that they actually liked being in each other's company. "Despite our differences."
"Yes." Susan was lost. "What has that got to do with..."
"Us sleeping together?" Jenny said, her smile growing as the blush spread across Susan's cheeks. "Everything." Brian and Simon had somewhat clouded her thinking that morning, but the more she thought about it, the more Jenny had become convinced that they proved her point. "When Simon suggested that you get together, what was your reaction?"
"Horror." Months later, Susan still couldn't believe he'd suggested it; it had been wrong on so many levels.
"And what about me? Did the idea of sleeping with me fill you with horror?"
"Of course not."
"Well then." Jenny waited, but if she'd expected a sudden light-bulb-moment, she was disappointed, as the only emotion to cross Susan's face was confusion. "Doesn't that tell you something?"
"That I don't think of you as an emotionally stunted little brother?" It sounded preposterous even as she said it, but Susan was at a loss, and the only two options she could think of were talking absolute bollocks or jumping her friend, again, and although the second option was the more appealing, it would only end up with them having the same conversation tomorrow.
Jenny was getting frustrated. "Are you being deliberately obtuse?" It seemed obvious to her that their night together had been more than the sum of its parts or, in other words, their decision to sleep together had been fuelled by more than alcohol and lowered inhibitions. "You and I were bound to have sex at some point," she said, "the real question is whether it's a one time thing, or we try and make something out of it?"
Susan wasn't sure she agreed with the inevitability of their actions but that argument died before it could be raised as Jenny's suggestion of a possible future struck her firmly between the eyes. "Make something of it?" The idea that a mixture of extreme horniness and alcohol could launch anything more than a one night stand had never even occurred to Susan. Yes, she'd been consumed with the idea of repeating their sexual escapades, but that was little more than lustful thinking, whereas 'making something out of it' implied an actual relationship. A relationship with a woman who was already halfway towards replacing Simon as her best friend. It could ruin everything.
There was a look of fear in Susan's eyes that dampened Jenny's enthusiasm and made her revaluate what she'd thought she knew. "Or not." She had hoped the get-out-clause wouldn't be needed, but it seemed to her that she'd overestimated Susan's attraction. "We could just decide that it was a fun experience and, even though we're obviously compatible, it's not something we want to pursue."
"Right." Memories of the night before were campaigning vehemently for the resumption of a physical relationship, but the pain Susan still felt at the lose of her marriage and the absence of her best friend made her pause. She'd gone from viewing Jenny as a stuck up control freak to one of her closest friends in little over a year and she wasn't willing to jeopardise that friendship for yet another romantic relationship doomed to failure. "Perhaps we should just..." On the other hand, she hadn't felt as sexually fulfilled in years, and she wasn't sure she could go back to thinking of Jenny as 'just a friend'. "...give it some thought?"
"You want to sleep on it?"
As delay tactics went, it was a classic, but that didn't mean it was any less valid. "Yes." It was then that Susan's hormones kicked into gear and reminded her that there was nothing in the rules against sleeping on it together. "We could always..."
"No." Jenny's tone clearly indicated that her decision was final.
To Be Continued
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