Mutual Benefits Chapter Ten

Amateur

It was hard to read Morgan. I know there was this whole stereotype that ‘when a woman tells you she’s not upset and it was not that big a deal, she’s very upset and it was the biggest deal’ – Kevin in particular was sure to drill that into me. But not trusting someone I was dating seemed kind of silly. If she told me she was not upset and I was supposed to take that as ‘I am upset,’ when the heck would I ever think she was truly not upset?Granted, this situation was a bit unique. This wasn’t exactly a small matter. It wasn’t like I told her she only ‘kind of’ looked pretty in a dress – she caught me grinding on her best friend. Some part of me was amazed that it wasn’t game over for our relationship right then and there.I was both relieved and weirded out that it seemed like this wasn’t the first time Morgan had to deal with this kind of thing from Taylor. She seemed more… exhausted than surprised. I was equally relieved, as well as a little nervous, when Morgan texted me early in the morning and asked if we could meet up and just talk about what happened last night with no Taylor in the room.I agreed instantly, thanking my lucky stars I was up early enough, and rushed to school. I was about an hour early, with no pre-school extracurriculars or anything lined up, so we had ample time. Given very few other students were there, we decided to just walk around the halls and talk.We didn’t speak for a minute or so after we said hello to each other and decided to just walk. After a minute of just walking, Morgan sighed loudly. “I guess I’ll have to be the one to bring it up, huh?”“I don’t know what you want me to say about it. You asked me to meet up,” I softly replied.“Yeah, fair. I guess, is there anything you wanted to ask me now that Taylor isn’t there?”I stopped and shuffled in place, before continuing when I realized that Morgan didn’t stop walking. “I guess I’m just amazed that you don’t seem to… mind it. Not as much as I’d have thought.”Morgan turned to me, her face plain and emotionless. “That’s not a question.”I coughed nervously. “Do you really not mind this situation, or did it bother you more than you wanted to… show?”She rolled her shoulders and leaned back against a wall. I stopped with her. “Well, yeah, of course when I first heard about it it bothered me a lot. It bothered me even more that Taylor told it to me as if she was testing you or something.”“She was te-”She waved a hand in front of me. “Don’t worry. I know you weren’t. She just wanted to use this to get to me and try to make herself look as innocent as possible.”My face soured. “Taylor’s a snake,” I spat.“No, she’s just… complicated,” she replied. “It’s not right of her to care so much about this, like, revenge of hers, but it is a fact that I did hurt her in the past. She has a hard time getting over things. At this point you can’t name-drop half of the boys in the school to her without setting her off somehow.”My sour expression remained, but I got a bit of sympathy for her. “She sounds… damaged.”“‘Damaged’ is an extreme word,” Morgan replied, still leaning against the wall. “Not inaccurate, though. I think she feels as though she’s been hurt so much by some guys here, she has this free opportunity to hurt whoever she wants as long as she gets her own safety or something.”It probably would have been betraying Taylor’s trust to admit to Morgan that she hit the bullseye with that one, but I couldn’t help remembering Taylor practically said as much to me before.“So in this weird way, I don’t mind,” Morgan continued. “It’s pretty clear you two were doing stuff before our date, and I get that would have been hard to bring up.” She got up from the wall and looked directly at me. “That doesn’t change the fact that it hurt a lot when I first found out, but… the tears are out now, I guess. I’ve had time to think about it and process it. It happened. I don’t think I’m going to get hurt any more than when I first found out. I meant it when I said I won’t care if you two continue. I get that it’s hard to say no to that kind of thing and as long as it doesn’t change our situation, I don’t think you two doing your own thing is going to emotionally affect me.”She said a lot there, but one thing stuck with me. “I’m sorry that it hurt a lot, Morgan,” I admitted. “I didn’t want to hurt you, and I feel awful that I did. “Strangely, she smiled at me. “I appreciate that that was the part you cared the most about,” she told me softly. She gave me a small hug, which, out of awkwardness, I barely returned. To top it off, when the hug was over, all I could do was blush and look down. She laughed pityingly at me. “I really will have to make the first move for everything with us, huh?” she asked rhetorically. “If you can’t hug me because of last night, we clearly have to have a whole other type of talk.”I blushed again. “No, no, it’s not that,” I replied quickly.“But I will have to be the one to start everything, won’t I?”“That… might be the case,” I admitted. “I’m just worried about… going too far when I initiate or something.”“Don’t you think we’re through the looking glass?” she asked with a smile. “I know you don’t have a hard time getting into the groove, even if you’re not güvenilir bahis dating the person.”I looked down in shame, and she slowly brought my head back up. “Nope, none of that,” she commented lightly. “I may be cool with it, but I’m allowed to make jokes about it. It happened. Joking about it is how I deal with it.”“Okay,” I sighed. “But it’s so much easier when someone else does it and you just go, ‘okay.’ I don’t know how far you want to go, or if you want it, or what the right time is, or…”“Quinn, you’re overthinking,” Morgan cut in. “I’m challenging you to make the next step with us without worrying about that.”“What does that mean?” I asked. She shrugged. “I won’t initiate anything until after you do. To give you some practice.” She smirked at the silliness of her own comment. “I want you to not think about any of that stuff. I just want you to feel out what the next step is for us, and do it when the time is right. I appreciate you thinking about what I want, but you keep second-guessing yourself. You’re just going to keep telling yourself not to show you care for me in case I think it’s weird or too much, and I won’t. Odds are, whatever you choose to do with me… I want it too.”I gave her a confused expression. “What’s that supposed to mean?”Morgan gave a small laugh. “Quinn, if I told you, that would defeat the whole point of this, wouldn’t it?”I wasn’t laughing with her. “It feels… weird to press on after last night. Especially so freshly after last night happened.”Morgan dropped her laughing face and looked at me with complete seriousness. “Maybe that’s actually a big part of why I want to move forward. It we’re just awkwardly saying semi-sweet things to each other, but you and Taylor got to… you know…”It was my turn to smile. “What, are you jealous?”She gave me a sarcastic smile. “We’re obviously not there.” We shared a small chuckle at that. “But, I mean, kind of. If she wanted me to see that shit, am I entitled for wanting to see…?”“See what?” I asked her. “Not see. But, y’know,” she replied, shrugging.“I’m not sure I do.”“Well, that’s not my problem. I gave you your challenge.”I stared at her for a bit, chuckling in discomfort, before looking down again. “Gahh, I’m not good at this,” I mumbled to myself.“That’s okay,” she soothed. “I’m not looking for how good you are. I’m just asking…” She gestured vaguely.I looked at her for a bit. She wasn’t saying anything more. Was she asking me to…? No, I couldn’t just assume that.…Huh. Okay, I was overthinking. That’s what she was talking about. Realizing that made me kind of terrified in a weird way, because I knew what I had to do, and what she was asking, but every second that I let pass was making the moment weirder. I steeled myself, trying to push those feelings of anxiety and hesitancy back down into my stomach, and walked calmly towards Morgan. I walked closer and closer, invading her personal bubble, not allowing myself to think enough to back out of this. I practically held my breath as my face got closer and closer to hers. I felt so weirdly nervous, afraid I was going to screw it up or be a novice compared to her and not know how to do it or whatever, but luckily, my brain was too focused on those thoughts to stop me from closing the gap between us. My face came up to hers, and before I knew it, we kissed.It felt so… new. Not bad, too nervous to be good. Just a simple closed-mouth kiss, one small peck on the lips. Feelings were surging through me. I backed away from her and cleared my throat, feeling my voice quivering like a loser. “S-something like th-that?” I managed to ask.Morgan could help but giggle at me. “You look like you’re going to pass out.”I nodded. “Y-yeah, I feel like it too,” I admitted.“So how was it? Did I do okay? I wasn’t too hard on you, was I?” Morgan asked, obviously joking. “Hey, you have experience, I don’t,” I defended myself. “It’s easier to just do it once you’ve done it before.”Morgan folded her arms and gave me a ‘wait for it’ look. A second or so later, my own point dawned on me. “Oh. Huh.”“Mhm,” she giggled again.“Can we uh… do it again? I want to try again,” I replied quickly.“I dunno, Quinn. I guess I’ll just stand here and see how you decide to answer that,” she replied in a playful voice. My first kiss turned into my second, then my third, then my fourth over the next couple of minutes. Once the third or so was out of the way, I could confirm – kissing was fucking awesome. It was definitely a good thing. They were still closed-mouth kisses, but I got more comfortable and bold with each one. After about ten or so, both of us came up for air.“Uh… got any tips?” I asked jokingly, no doubt blushing.“Yeah. Believe in yourself a little bit more,” she replied. “And kiss me whenever you want to.”“I kinda really want to right now,” I admitted.“Then come here,” Morgan laughed, and we resumed kissing, daring to not leave it at little pecks. We didn’t exactly make out or anything – or did we? Was ‘making out’ just kissing that wasn’t closed-mouth? I’d have to ask Kevin later. At any rate, we kissed for what seemed like forever, and for what probably was longer than we meant to. Before long, there was the occasional student passing by güvenilir bahis siteleri us, not crowding around us or anything, but definitely noticing us and what we were doing.“Oops,” Morgan commented, looking around. “PDA.”“Is it a bad thing?” I asked, going in for another kiss.She readily accepted it, but backed off from me afterwards. “I think a lot of students see it as kind of tasteless. Even if it isn’t, like, making out or anything.”Huh. So okay, that wasn’t making out.“But I think a few students saw us. This’ll be really awkward for the rumor mill.”“Wait, what do you mean?” I asked, worried that there was something else about high school gossip everyone else knew about but I missed.“Oh, I’m just saying, imagine the scandal, if two students, one of them a kind of popular girl, kissing in the hallway, and neither of them have even asked the other to be their boyfriend or girlfriend yet…” Hints were rolling off of her voice in waves.I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Is that your-”“You don’t get to ask,” Morgan butted in.I huffed annoyedly. “Hey, Morgan, would you want to be my… or… would you like me to be your boyfriend?”Morgan chuckled with her best ‘Oh, Quinn’ face. “Yes to both,” she laughed, wrapping her arms around me. We exchanged one more kiss before deciding that the walls of Hazelwood had seen enough.***And boy, could Hazelwood get the word out. By lunchtime, it was clear that Morgan and Quinn were the story of the day. Of course, the response to that was usually, “Quinn who?” but apparently a lot of the seniors knew me as ‘the school’s study buddy’ because of that thing I did that one time (thanks Kevin) so people could figure out who Quinn Shen was. It was weird; I was known before now, but at this point my name was known. Even by the time Morgan and I were holding hands between the first two classes, people were figuring out, ‘hey, that’s Quinn Shen’ before even needing to ask Morgan. And it was all because I was being seen with Morgan. I knew the group was popular, but I really underestimated just how popular she was. Either that, or the entire populace of Hazelwood really needed to get a social life. Or a combination of the two. The most nervewracking part of it all was when Morgan asked me to sit with her group at lunch. At first I was hesitant – the events of Taylor’s basement weren’t even twenty-four hours old – but a gentle squeeze of my hand and a gentle reassurance later, I was begrudgingly walking to her lunch table, my hand in hers.I felt childish for doing it, but I avoided Taylor’s gaze most of the time I was there. I was just too nervous to look at her. It was just as well that I didn’t concentrate on her, or even anyone except for Morgan. Milo and Crystal barely spoke to me, Lexi kept asking Morgan intrusive questions about us, and Taylor was oddly silent the whole time.I tried my hardest not to feel insulted at the team’s group effort to ignore me, especially since I was kind of their first conversation topic – or more specifically, what happened yesterday. Taylor did most of the talking, and, I have to admit, did a weirdly good job of never lying and yet leaving so much critical information out that it somehow seemed like they had a fight about something else entirely. It seemed like misunderstandings and even fights might have been commonplace of the group, since they did a dissection of yesterday’s situation that lasted all of five minutes, then moved on as if it were nothing. Part of me wondered if Milo was going to hold a grudge for never texting him, but either he forgot or was really good at not showing it.Near the end of lunch, Taylor said something out of the blue and instinctively I looked up from my food to meet her gaze. What was weird was that there wasn’t a hint of malice on her face, not for last night and not even for clearly ignoring her for most of the lunch period. Once she saw that I was looking at her, she simply gave me a warm smile and chuckled, “Hey Quinn.”“Uh…” I awkwardly looked down before looking again at her. “…Hey Taylor.”“You two look really happy together,” she observed, the warm smile still on her face. There wasn’t anything foreboding in her tone, no apparent trick she was playing. “It’s really nice to see.”I didn’t reply, but Morgan was quick to. “Thanks,Taylor,” she replied. “Kinda crazy how this all worked out, huh?”Taylor’s smile got bigger as she shot Morgan a look. “Weird how only we know how crazy it, like, really was,” she pointed out. The two laughed politely at that, but I couldn’t help but bury my face in my hands. I could not figure out either of these two girls for the life of me. Hell, I couldn’t figure out any of the four girls or the boy for that matter. It’s like I got in a relationship with an alien or something. A cute, spunky alien that I really liked kissing a lot.***It only really hit me at the end of the day that I was truly Morgan’s boyfriend now. After school, she texted me asking to meet her in the main hallway, and when I got there, I found out that it was for no real reason. Once I got there, I was expecting some sort of purpose or point to it, but once I got there, she smiled and just started talking to me, with her friend group iddaa siteleri one by one joining us, as well as one other guest.“Why, hello, ladies! And Milo,” Kevin greeted us. “You holding my brother ransom? I’ll go, hmm, ten dollars. Tops.”Crystal shook her head at him. “You think you’re so charming,” she observed with an annoyed tone.“Hi to you too, Crystal,” he rebutted. “Quinn and I always walk home together. I’m just waiting for him. I can either do it over here, or I can awkwardly stand over there and stare at him, your choice.”“Either way, you’ll be awkward,” Lexi cut in.Kevin looked comedically around at the height of all of our heads, clearly above Lexi’s, doing an exaggerated searching motion. “Who said that?”Lexi rolled her eyes as Morgan answered him. “I was hoping to just talk to him for a bit. You waiting around breathing down his neck might be kind of weird. I’m sure you could handle it if you walked home yourself like a big boy.”Kevin shook his head. “I don’t even get what I did to you all to get this kind of treatment.” He donned a goofy face and mimed adjusting a tie. “I don’t get no respect.” He paused for effect. “No? It’s Rodney Dangerfi- never mind. Do you mind if I ask Quinn to speak for himself, or do you already have him wrapped around your finger?”“There’s a lot of tension here,” I mumbled quietly. I turned to Kevin. “I honestly don’t know how long I’ll be here. Can we just assume it’s like one of my studying days or something?”“I was actually going to ask him about that,” Taylor cut in, notably for the first time since she got there. She gave Kevin a small smile. “I’m sorry for making it short notice. It’s just a year-ending thing.”It was cool of her to stick up for me like that, and in a much more diplomatic way than any of the girls there, including Morgan. Milo was just silently staring at him too. Kevin shrugged and said, “Alright, it’s cool. See you later, Quinn,” and like that, he was off.Once he was away, Talor turned to Morgan and shrugged. “See?” she asked.Morgan gave her a look – clearly there was some bigger thing there – and started talking to the group about him and the other guys. I was a bit confused as to why they called me here just to keep talking about their usual topics – it’s not like I was going to be good at gossip – but amidst some kind of conversation between Morgan and Crystal, I turned to Taylor.“Thanks for defusing the situation with Kevin,” I said. “You thought really quickly on your feet telling him that.”Taylor smiled slightly. “I was actually gonna ask you about that. Could we study today? I mean, finals are beginning tomorrow, and this might be our last chance…” I shouldn’t have been so obvious about it, but the first thing I did when she asked was turn towards Morgan. By now, Morgan either was done with her conversation or cut it off, and was clearly looking at me out of the corner of her eye.She was testing me, I told myself. I couldn’t say yes. Or, wait, I should say yes so it was clear Morgan didn’t have a monopoly on me and who I could hang out with, but then deny Taylor sex afterwards. No, wait, I should respect what she said earlier and assume there was no trickery.I really couldn’t tell you why Morgan thought I was an overthinker. Realizing the gravity of what Taylor was telling me, and knowing I really did want to see her succeed, I slowly nodded. “Yeah, I think I can make time tonight,” I told her. Taylor beamed. “Thanks, Quinn. Let’s kick this final’s ass.”I nodded with determination, then turned back to Morgan. She was no longer looking at us, having gotten back into a conversation with Milo. “Do you think we should go now? Just to make sure we have as much time as possible,” Taylor continued, looking at the clock on the wall of the hallway.If I already said yes, I didn’t really have a vested interest in when we go, and even though Morgan called me here, it clearly wasn’t for any important reason, so I figured she wouldn’t hold it against me if I cut it a little short. “Yeah, sure.”“Cool,” she replied with a smile. “Yo, bitches! Anyone need a ride?”Lexi and Crystal shook their heads. Milo held up his hand casually, also declining. Morgan, turning back from Milo, thought about it for a second and nodded her head. “Thanks, Tay.”“Let’s get going, I don’t wanna stay at school any longer than I have to,” Taylor addressed the group, even though only Morgan and I had agreed to go with her. Amazingly, the whole group started moving, even though half of them weren’t even going with her. Just more power Taylor had over the group, I guess.Taylor ended up walking ahead of us, far enough that Morgan felt confident tapping me on the shoulder and turning to me. When I did, she got really close and whispered in my ear. “I know Taylor can be pushy. If she wants to fool around, only go for it if you want to. Let her know how you feel. I won’t mind either way,” she whispered, before giving me a slight kiss on the cheek. I couldn’t help but smile at Morgan’s words, and when she retracted from the kiss enough to look me in the eyes, I leaned in and kissed her right on the lips.She readily and heartily accepted the kiss, moving in to passionately hug me as I kissed her. I tried responding in kind, moving into her too, enjoying the feeling of her body on mine as our lips never parted. We heard a loud echoey cough from down the hallway and Morgan pulled back, the two of us seeing an annoyed Taylor looking at us.

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