~ For One Night ~

By Kel

Disclaimers: Okay, all of the characters in this little story are mine and mine alone. So I guess this kind of disclaimer is not really necessary.

Warnings: Well, there is some very mild language in this story so if that offends you please don't read this. This story is also about two women (yes, that's right two women) who are hopelessly in love with each other. Although the subject matter itself requires a warning that if you are not supposed to be reading this that you shouldn't, all the rest is pretty tame. There is a pretty intense kiss and some implied…well, whatever you think is implied, but nothing graphic.

On a personal note: This is my first attempt at Fanfic so feedback would be nice. I know that this story may seem a bit typical or ordinary but believe me it holds a very special place in my heart. I really hope you enjoy.

Please send comments to Kel at kfutbol@aol.com

We worked in uncomfortable silence as we packed her car. I couldn't believe it. After 8 years I finally had to say good-bye and I didn't think I could handle it. I had known, even before she told me, that she was leaving, but that didn't make it any easier. With each item I packed into her car or each box that I sealed up, I felt a part of me breaking away. "How could she be leaving?"

She is my best friend and my heart all rolled into one person. We never got to see each other much anyway because she also happens to be 7 years older than I am, but still we had a connection. An unbreakable bond that I knew nothing could sever. But as she is fond of telling me, "You never know what you believe in until you put it to the test." Well, my test date had come. And everything about me told me I was failing miserably. But I couldn't let her see my pain. She was hurting enough as it was. I couldn't cause her more.

I watched her move methodically and purposefully around the apartment gathering up odds and ends that hadn't made it into boxes yet. Her 5 foot 10 inch, thin frame filled my eyes with wonder and made something within me ache when I thought of not being able to see her for what could be a long time. My heart was imprinting everything about her: her movements, her grace, her poise, the honey color of her hair, so that I wouldn't ever forget…as if I could. Every now and then she would glance over at me and flash that radiant, confident smile that, through the years, always let me know that I would be okay. Even now it worked. I knew that she and I would never be apart because she was taking a part of me with her. She was confident that I would be okay, I believed it as well and forced a smile to my face even though I really didn't feel like smiling. I wondered if I ever would again. As far as I was concerned she was leaving me all alone.

We loaded the last box into the car and I tried to prolong our "farewell" by giving the apartment a twice and then a thrice over to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything. Finally, she told me that she was ready to leave. My heart sank. All at once, my emotions welled up and threatened to overcome my crumbling façade of calmness.

"No, I need more time. Please just give me more time," my heart cried.

She stepped in front of me and tried to hug me, but I backed away. I saw the hurt in her eyes as I did so I quickly reached into my pocket to retrieve a small box that I wanted to give her. This woman before me was my best friend and would always be as far as I was concerned. I had a bond with her that I hadn't even begun to understand and would eventually realize that it went far beyond friendship or love.

She watched me as I opened the box and lifted a small golden charm on a short golden chain. I held it before her and reached to my neck to pull out the other half of that charm. With trembling hands, I placed the necklace around her neck and clasped it…settling it neatly. She looked to me with tears in her eyes and asked what it said.

I took a shaky breath and feeling my emotions coming unglued, I slowly replied, "It is the only thing I could find that came even remotely close to saying what I have to say to you. I know that you say I have the gift of words, but there aren't enough words or expressions to describe how special and important you are to me. I may be young, and sometimes that has caused a gap between us in experience and understanding, but I know what love is. And I love you. Your very presence in my life…your faith in me makes me do things I don't think I should be able to accomplish but somehow manage to get through. When I look deep down inside myself I see that the best part of me…is you. The charm is split in half just as you and I are split in half and it says, 'The Lord watch between me and thee while we are apart one from the other.'"

I looked into her soft brown eyes that are surprisingly lighter than mine, and saw tears. My own resolve broke down and we embraced each other in a fierce hug and tried desperately to hold on forever even though we knew we must part.

She held my face in her hands and forced me to look into her eyes. The tears that were streaming down my face were burning my skin as she looked…not at me, but into me. There was no movement or sound as she gazed intensely into my eyes trying to convey all that I knew she could not say. After several seconds, she dropped her gaze and hugged me again. This time she gently stroked my hair and whispered, "I love you…don't ever forget that. I'm leaving the best part of me here with you."

Finally, we parted. I stood in the parking lot of her apartment complex and watched her drive off. I got into my car and slammed it into gear and sped off…trying desperately to outrun the pain. As I got to my destination; a secluded part of the forest just outside the city limits, I parked my car and jumped out. I ran to the edge of the rock I was now standing on dropped to my knees, and my heart exploded. My throat let go a cry of pain and pure rage at the loss of what I knew was my life. The cry echoed through the air and off the rocks and it felt as though the ground itself was shaking with my pain. I knew it was not the end. I knew that she was with me and that we would see each other again, but for a 17 year old girl who had no one else, I felt my heart die that day.

4 months later…December

"Jo is coming home!" I thought excitedly to my self. My heart was beating so loudly in my chest I was sure that everyone around me could hear it. I sat…no, I didn't sit at all…I paced back and forth in the airport terminal and nervously kept watching the gate. Every muscle in my body was tense and anxious. "Where was she?" I kept thinking, "I just saw her plane land." As I was about to go up to the woman at the gate for the 6th time in as many minutes, I saw passengers making their way through the gate and into the terminal. I wasn't a very tall girl, only about 5'5" in tennis shoes, so I stood on a nearby chair so that I could see over the crowd of people. I didn't want to miss her. It had only been 4 months but it felt a lot longer than that and my heart couldn't wait anymore.

I was still standing on the chair trying to find her in the crowd of people when I felt someone tap me on my calf. Not wanting to take my eyes of the entrance, I growled, "Leave me alone, I'm looking for someone."

My heart stopped when I heard a low, familiar chuckle and someone said, "Well, I think that someone has found you. Mind coming down to…UMF!"

Before she could finish her sentence she was being engulfed by 5 foot 5 inches of muscle and bone in a fierce hug. She returned it with as much force as I was giving and laid her cheek against my short, brown hair; content to let me bask in her presence for a little longer.

"God, it felt good to see her, to hug her again," I thought as I buried my head into her shoulder. "I really needed this." Little did I know, she was thinking the same thing.

I'm not really sure how long we stood there or when we picked up her bags or how we got to my car, but by the time I started the engine my senses had come back to me along with, what I'm sure was, the goofiest grin anyone had ever seen. I sat silently and listened to her tell me about Montana and grad school and all the people she had met so far. A part of me felt a twinge of jealousy as she spoke of her new friends because they got to see her and I didn't. But, I just reminded myself that no matter what we would always be a part of each other.

When we reached her old apartment it was about 5:30 p.m. We unloaded her bags and a twinge of a familiar pain rose up in me as I remembered the last time I was there. As I lifted the last of her bags out of the trunk and closed the lid, I caught her eyes and she winked at me as if to say, "I know and you're okay." I flashed a real smile this time and nodded.

After she got settled, we ate a quick dinner and chatted a bit about miscellaneous things. Tomorrow she would be going to stay with her parents in another part of the state and since I had school, I wouldn't be able to see her after that night. As far as I was concerned, that night was enough…I just needed to be near her. At about 7 we decided to go down the road to see a quick movie at the local theater.

The movie was all right, but to tell you the truth I don't even remember what it was about. I just remember feeling as though I was dreaming that she was there with me. Right next to me in fact. I also don't remember how, but at some point during the movie she caught me looking at her. I tried to look away but she placed her hand in mine and squeezed. I looked back to her and she said, "I'm here and I'm not going anywhere." What surprised me the most was that she didn't move her hand.

As we walked out the door of the theater after the movie, I was wrapped up in my own thoughts when I heard her gasp as we stepped outside into the crisp winter night. I snapped out of my thoughts and realized that everything was completely white. Apparently while we were inside, Mother Nature had decided to bestow upon us a thick, deep blanket of snow. And it was still coming down in large, numerous flakes.

Since my car had 4-wheel drive and the roads hadn't iced up yet, it wasn't too difficult getting back to the apartment. It was about 10:00 p.m. and we both were feeling a bit playful, so as I was locking up my car before entering her apartment I felt something hit me squarely in the back. I turned to see Jo with a devilishly conniving grin on her face as she reached for some more snow. Then it was on. I ran around to the other side of my car and used it as a shield and we continued to launch snowball after snowball at each other and laughed loudly into the night.

Finally, we called a truce and stood there looking around us and taking in the peace. Because most people in WV don't know how to drive in the snow and because it was late there were no cars on the roads of the quiet, suburban surroundings. Despite the snow, it wasn't that cold either. So, still feeling full of energy, Jo and I decided to take a walk.

The streets were covered in powdery white as we walked slowly and silently along. For several minutes neither of us said anything…simply content to bask in the calmness of the night. I was lost in my own thoughts. I still couldn't believe that she was there with me. After that day in August when I heard and physically felt my heart break, I thought I would never feel this whole again. But as soon as I saw her at the airport, it was as though nothing had changed. But, it had changed. At the movie theater, she hadn't broken her hold on my hand until the movie ended and the lights had come on. "Could it be that she is feeling the same way I am?" My thoughts raced as we walked silently and slowly into the night. "I know what I'm feeling but I'm not sure I should be feeling it. And let's face it, I may be 18 now but there is still an age gap between us that will never be filled. She will always be older than I am. But does that matter? Maybe…?"

My unspoken question was cut short when I felt her touch my arm and stop. We had come to the community center baseball field and a small smile formed at my lips as I gazed across and remembered the one and only softball game I had ever played there. Jo and I had joined a pick up game on the spur of the moment and I quickly realized that I should stick to playing soccer because I had no hand-eye coordination whatsoever. It had been a fun day and one that had stuck in my memory.

I turned to Jo and saw that she too had remembered that day. She hadn't removed her hand from my arm yet, and despite the cold, I began to sweat. We had walked for 2 blocks in complete silence and just as I was going to break it, she relieved me of that task.

"Kid, we gotta talk." Although I knew that this was probably going to be a serious talk, I smiled at the use of her nickname for me. Ever since the first time we met, she had referred to me as "Kid." It wasn't meant to be derogatory or patronizing, it was just a nickname.

I chuckled wryly, "The last time you opened up a conversation like that, you told me you were moving to Montana. Please don't tell me you are moving to New Zealand or something like that…I don't think I could take it."

Her lips eased into a gentle, sad smile and she replied, "I don't think I could either." She patted my arm and guided me back onto the street so we could resume our walk. "I need you to do something for me," she stated gently, "I want you to tell me what's been going on with you."

I stopped dead in my tracks and turned her in shocked, silence. When I found my voice I asked, "What do you want to know?"

She looked right into my eyes and very matter-of-factly stated, "I want to know what the hell is going on with you. I know that the last 4 months have not been happy ones for you but there is something else going on that has torn you apart, so I want to know what it is."

"What brought this all up? How do you know what's been happening? You're not here anymore, how would you know?" I asked with an edge to my voice. I could tell her…certainly a lot happened, but why would she ask and how did she know?

I knew I had stung her with my last words and I saw the fight for control flash across her face before she said, "I don't want you to get upset or angry, but I got a letter from Andy and to be honest with you, I'm glad I did. She was very worried about you and I want to know what the hell is going on." Her last words were very direct and serious.

"I can't believe she did that. I told her I was fine." I was angry. I had been angry for 4 months but I didn't want Jo to know about it. It had nothing to do with her but the fact that she wasn't there had made things harder.

"Apparently, you weren't fine and I don't think you are fine now, so talk to me. Don't shut me out now. You and I have a lot to talk about tonight and we only have tonight to do it. What the hell happened?"

My eyes dropped and tears came unexpectedly under the scrutiny of her gaze. She wasn't the one making me cry. Four months of pain and trouble were finally catching up with me and I let myself feel the pain in the presence of the one person I felt safe with. "Dad and I haven't been doing well. Jo, you know how much I love him and you know how much he means to me, but I can't do this anymore." I let the tears fall for a minute while I gained some of my composure back enough to speak…she held onto my arm. "He and I have been fighting a lot. But it hasn't been just shouting…he hit me again. We got into a really big one back in October and I tried to fight back but he just kept going. I tried to fight. I tried to run, but he just wouldn't let me go. He just yelled and pushed me and hit me and said terrible things." I stopped in the road and turned my face from her and buried my face in my hands. My tears were relentless and unforgiving as they rolled through my fingers and down my cheeks. I thought I would never stop crying until I felt strong arms wrap around my waist and hold me. Immediately I turned in those arms and buried my head in the tall shoulder before me.

I knew she was crying too. But more than that, I knew she was mad. I could feel the tension in her body, but she held me tenderly and stroked my hair. We were standing in the shadows of the street at 11:00 at night but we didn't care.

As my tears subsided, she released me and gazed into my bloodshot eyes. She sighed, "I figured that's what was going on. Andy said she was worried about you, that you were constantly angry and short-tempered. She didn't know how to help you and it scared her. She found my address in your planner and wrote to me. I was going to call but got the chance to come back instead. I'm glad I did."

"Jo, I don't know what to do. I know that I scared Andy and that it took a lot for her to write to you, but I don't know what to do. I don't want to be there anymore. I never know what sets him off and Mom won't do anything to stop him. I don't do anything but go to school, go to practice, play in my games, and do my homework. I don't know what I'm doing wrong." The tears threatened to fall again but a steady, compassionate gaze stopped them.

"Listen to me, you haven't done anything. I know things are hard and believe me if I could take you away from this…from all of this I would. But you have to choose your own path. I know you. You are strong and confident and the bravest person I know. I know you can get through this and that doesn't mean you have to take the punishment. Stand up to him! You don't have to fight with your fists…use your words. Fight him with the best weapon you have…your heart. Make him see what he is doing to you. Make your mom see what he does and how it is affecting you. Get help, talk to someone. Talk to your teacher, what's her name, Ms. Smith. I know she will help you. You aren't alone, Kid. I'm here with you always." With that statement she pulled her pendant from her shirt and stepped closer to me. She retrieved mine and fit both pieces together. "We're never apart."

With that I smiled. I looked up into her brown eyes and saw my best friend standing before me. Without a word, I sank back into a welcomed embrace. The cold no longer mattered, the pain no longer mattered, my dad no longer mattered… this mattered.

We started walking again and didn't mention my dad again. I knew she was mad. I could still feel it rolling off of her like heat. I was surprised the snow wasn't melting under her feet. Her strong jaw was flexing and relaxing and her shoulders were stiff and squared. When we got back to the apartment, we took off our jackets and slipped into friendly, relaxing conversation as we fixed hot chocolate and settled onto the couch. At first we sipped our drinks in silence, allowing the warmth to consume us, but once again she broke it.

"Are you okay? I'm sorry I got so mad. If you need to talk, I am here to listen." Her voice was sad and full of regret.

With a sad, tired smile I said, "I'm okay. I promise. And you are right…I can fight him and I can beat him. I just need to take care of myself and not worry about him, right?"

"Right," she agreed with a smile.

I shifted myself on the couch and tucked my legs underneath me. "So, what else?" She looked at me slightly confused and I said, "What else do we need to talk about? You said there were a couple of things we needed to discuss so…what else?"

She shifted nervously and averted her eyes from mine. "Uh, are you sure you don't need to talk?" "I'm sure," I said. "Now, what's up?"

In one fluid motion she rose from the couch and collected our empty mugs. She emerged from the kitchen and looked into my patiently waiting eyes, but did not sit down. After three long breaths she began, "Okay, you have to promise you won't interrupt me until I have said what I need to say, alright?"

I nodded my response, recognizing that she didn't want me to speak right at that moment and tilted my head to look at her standing form. "God, she is amazing. Whoa, hold on there. Wrong time…right place…wrong time," I thought.

"Good, okay there are some things we need to discuss…well, actually I need to talk and you need to listen right now," she said with a wry smile. "Over the last 4 months some rather strange things have occurred in my life and I want to share them with you. Actually, I have finally found a voice and I need to tell you what I never could before. And as you know… me wanting to talk is strange." I smiled.

My heart started pounding in my chest. I know she could hear it…how couldn't she…it was deafening. I simply nodded and tried to remain calm.

"Okay, here goes. You know that you are very important to me." I nodded. "You know that you are my best friend and that I love you very much even though I can't say it sometimes." I nodded again. She kneeled in front of me and stared into my eyes, "God this hard." I took her hands in mine and settled them on my lap. She looked at our linked hands and swallowed hard… as did I. I was hoping that she was going to finally say something about what I could feel had happened between the two of us.

She looked into my eyes and continued, "Taylor" I was stunned at the use of my first name, "I…you, weren't the only one who died that day. Shortly after I left you I felt something inside of me rip apart…it was you. I don't know how, but I felt your pain. Andy also told me in that letter how she had found you after dark up on the rock huddled in a ball and looking out of lifeless eyes. I felt it too. I was there with you … and what you were feeling was me. I'm so sorry, Tay. I wish like hell that I hadn't had to go. But I did."

Tears were forming in her eyes and I took and unsteady breath and reached my hand out to touch her cheek. She leaned into the touch and took a deep breath to continue. "When I got out there I knew something was not right with you. I could feel the pain and the anger, but I couldn't make any sense out of it until I got Andy's letter. I'm sorry I wasn't here. I'm so sorry." She began to cry and put her head down on my thighs. I brushed her hair gently with my fingers and tried to fight back my own tears as I spoke, "I didn't call you or tell you because I didn't want to hurt you or make you feel guilty or anything like that. I knew that you would want to help or do something and I wanted you here desperately but I also knew that you were doing what you needed to do and that was more important."

She sat up suddenly and glared at me. "Nothing is more important to me than you! Can't you see that?" She practically shouted. "Damn it, Taylor, I love you. You are just as much me as I am you. I hurt when you hurt. And all I want to do right now is…"

The sentence trailed off and she tried to stand to back away from me. I pulled her back gently and tipped her chin up to meet my gaze. "Don't, don't shut me out Jo. You didn't let me, I won't let you. Talk to me…what do you want to do right now?"

I made her hold my gaze and neither of us breathed for several seconds waiting to see what happened. She exhaled and raised a hand to my cheek. She brushed away the tears that had fallen despite my attempts to hold them back. In a whisper she said, "I wish that I could stop these." She laid her hand flat against my chest, above my heart, "And heal this." Her eyes met mine and I saw my own feeling reflected back at me. In a hush she said, "And hold you until you know how much I love you and then start all over again."

My breath stopped, as did my heart at her quiet admission. She saw the momentary confusion in my eyes and started to back away. "God, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have…I wasn't thinking…I'm sorry." She quickly stood and moved away.

Before I knew it, I was on my feet. I walked up behind and turned her around to face me. "No way, uh uh, you don't just turn away from me like that. I'm not a little girl any more. In fact, I haven't been a little girl for a long time. I've known for over 2 years that not matter who else comes and goes in my life that I am hopelessly and forever in love with you. Don't shut this down now that we are finally beginning." The words came out with more force than I intended and tears came again. "God, will I ever stop crying," I thought.

I brushed her hair back and stepped up to her. I placed one hand above my heart and the other above hers. Her breath caught and she looked at me. I whispered, "Complete." With that she raised her hand to my cheek again and gazed into my eyes. I said to her, "We've only got tonight." In a whisper I said, "I love you."

No more words were uttered that night. She leaned in and placed the slightest hint of a kiss upon my lips. She pulled back and looked at me to make sure I was okay then leaned in again. The kiss was like no other I had ever known or have known since. It was full of love and passion and reached down into the very depths of our souls where we resided in each other. We were one soul dwelling in the same body at that moment. All night long we explored each other. Both of us tentative, both of us shy, but both unwilling to give anything less than all of ourselves to each other. Dawn found us wrapped in each other's arms and forever bound to the other.

We only had that night. In fact, we only had a few hours after our first kiss. We knew that what happened that night was something that bound us together forever. We knew that in the morning we would have to part ways again. We also knew that we would never again have to clarify our need for each other. For one night we stripped away the boundaries. For one night, we stepped outside of the world and into each other. For one night, we let go of fear, of the pain, of our wills, as well as our desires and melted into our own reality. And in that one night, a night that may never be again, we healed our hearts and found our soul.

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