In all Christian honesty, Geraldine wasn’t expecting much when she agreed to a night of board games and vintage brandy with David Horton...except, perhaps, an evening spared of getting distracted by rubbish TV and chocolate bars and falling asleep in a brain dead coma on her couch. Besides, they’d been getting along better these days. Becoming a grandfather seemed to have released a nurturing, more loosened type of David that could only have been the result of coming face-to-face with soiled diapers and making the airplane noise to trick a baby into eating spinach. That wasn’t the type of reality the Village Councilor had lived for the past 30 years, but it was the one he found himself faced with now- and grateful to be so.
Geraldine was grateful too because it meant less opposition and irritability from the man she loved to hate. In fact, she didn’t much hate him these days, not now that some of those stiff Horton walls had been knocked down by two pudgy baby hands and a small plastic xylophone mallet.
They found themselves laughing together more, conversing pleasantly more often, agreeing with each other’s opinions more than not. Tonight, they found themselves indulging perhaps a bit too much in David’s vintage, to the point that inhibitions were nil, the game had been long since forgotten, and insane conversation topics were being thrown around wildly. Such as...
“Hypothetically speaking- hypothetically, mind you! Could we have ever-...I mean, you and I, you know?”
“I don’t bloody know, in fact,” she rallied back as she filled her glass up once again, genuinely lost on what he was getting at. “Do what? Send in an audition tape for Shipwrecked ? Paint ourselves purple and run around the village naked, what?”
“No, no, no, no. Silly . I think you know what I mean. Why were we never an item? Why didn’t that ever come together?”
She couldn’t tell if this was just a ridiculous, odd joke piece David was trying out in the drunken haze of the moment or...something besides, but the latter was a bit too heavy and weird to consider. Incredulous, she narrowed her eyes at him.
“You really need me to answer that? Truly? Got absolutely no ideas of your own?”
There really was no other way to interpret such a thought as anything but a joke, right? She treated it as such anyway, and hoped that would be indication enough to stave off discussing it further. They could have their fun, certainly, but let it be at someone else’s expense and not their own. Both. At the same time.
“Okay! I misspoke. S’not what I meant. What I mean is-...god, it’s hard to think. Is...us being together...even a remote possibility? Could it ever be?”
Why was he pushing this? Any intellectual deductions she might have been able to make in the right frame of mind was quickly lost on a wave of whiskey. The only thing she could do was...blame the situation? Sure, why not.
“...I think you’ve had one nip too many from the bottle, David. Then again, likely so have I and, well-...”
She poured herself another glass and quickly downed it. If they were going to explore this at any length she would need to be a lot more soused. David looked concerned, even as his shirt was opened three buttons down from the norm (any unbuttoning for David would be a departure from the norm) and the intoxication made him look frazzled.
“Steady on there, vicar. I’m serious by the way. This is a serious question.”
“Well, you’d best take your necktie off your head then for starters, hadn’t you?”
Because that had happened at some point, so take it off he did and with a special kind of quickness, as if it was the only bastion standing between him and this very uncomfortable topic. Whatever confidence he earned in doing so, however, vanished abruptly into a forlorn grimace that he delivered to the necktie now crumpled in his hands. Of all the things that happened tonight, he’d regret that one the most she imagined.
“Perhaps now wasn’t the best time to bring this up…” he said, regretful. “But then again, drink offers a courage I don’t have when I’m sober.”
The air to the room had a palpable change in it and her stomach sank.
“Oh, lord. You are serious, aren’t you?” she realized, only a bit disappointed this wasn’t just going to be a lighthearted evening. She was still the vicar, albeit a pretty drunk one right now, but she still had a responsibility to acknowledge his feelings. “….very well, then. It just so happens, I think I’m knackered enough right now to have this conversation. Maybe.”
“I just think...we’re not all that dissimilar, you and I.” David looked rather meek and bashful now as opposed to disappointed, which was a welcome change. To a point, as it also made him look...rather endearing? Was ‘adorable’ taking things too far? She decided it was. David Horton and concepts like ‘endearing’ and ‘adorable’ should have never been in the same sentence, but despite that, here he sat...as uncertain as a school boy.
“What, being that we’re the only two in the village with more than half a brain cell?” Some sorely needed levity, she figured, for as serious as he might have been in the moment they were still impaired, after all.
David chuckled and...good lord, was that a blush on his cheeks and a twinkle in his eye?? “Well, yes. That could be a factor. Admittedly, it could. But I do think-”
No, no, this was definitely going too far. David Horton looking anywhere near the ballpark of ‘cute’ to her meant this was going too far, too fast.
“Oh, for goodness sake, David, I know we’re alike,” Geraldine blurted out, maybe a bit desperate. He of all people would see reason when it was presented. “It’s why we simultaneously seem to get along so well and yet, not at all at the same time. But see, this? This is the problem.”
He said nothing, only looked at her as if she’d just recited an entire piece of Shakespeare in Greek. Frustrated, she exclaimed, “I don’t know if you’re trying to confess your love for me or tactfully bring up an investment portfolio, you thicko!”
“Well, now, I didn’t say-...”
“We might be alike in many ways, true, but when it comes to matters of the heart, I think we have wildly different expectations.”
That would do the trick, she thought, smiling with satisfaction into her next glass. Enough of this absurdity, back to...absurdity that didn’t make her question their position too much.
Alas, it was not to be, as David then turned more towards her on the couch, seemingly intrigued. Why did men only know how to drop a topic when it suited them?
“Alright then, tell me. If a man were to confess his feelings to you in a way that was-...more appealing, what would that look like?”
Geraldine balked for a moment, trying to sloppily sort through her memories of men she’d been with in the past. Was it worth it to go as far as back as the boy who threw a crumpled paper at her head in secondary school? She did still let him put his hands under her blouse, after all. Eventually she settled on, “I dunno...just get out with it, I suppose…?”
It didn’t occur to her David would take this as some kind of invitation to do the same. Apparently drunk David Horton had all the same moxy as a sober Owen Newitt, as he proceeded to slip from the couch and fall to one knee in front of her.
“Bodicea Geraldine Granger, I’m desperately in love with you. Run away with me.”
What was this evening?? A Yahtzee night turned cheesy paperback bodice ripper starring her and David? The gesture was so sudden, so completely out of character, that she reeled back, screamed, and dropped her glass all over the carpet. David quickly transitioned to something she better recognized- amused and smug.
“Ah! See?” he exclaimed, satisfied for whatever reason as he resumed his former position. “That didn’t go over very well either, did it? Perhaps we’re more alike in ‘matters of the heart’ than you’d care to believe.”
“I don’t see how that can be true, I-...!” But as much as she didn’t want to believe it, and for as irritated as she was while picking up her tossed glass, memories of certain similar interests they’d had in the past came rushing to the forefront. To deny the obvious would be silly, so she conceded. “Alright. Alright, I guess it’s true then.”
And yet, in this acceptance was no satisfaction, as there never would be anyway in realizing both persons are something akin to losers when it came to relationships. They both collapsed on the back of the couch with a collective sigh, too lost in thought about their respective love life failings to consider that their heads were just barely separated by a piece of bunched up quilt.
“Why do we do that?” Geraldine wondered aloud to no one in particular. “Lust after the nearest charming new thing in the village with a nice bottom, then somehow expect a future? A relationship with meaning and depth, no less. One wouldn’t think it’s asking much.”
“Perhaps we’re desperate,” David offered. “Perhaps we’re lonely. Perhaps we’re looking for the right things in the wrong places.”
“Well...where is the right place, then? He certainly isn’t giving me any clear answers.” Geraldine sent a well-timed glare to the portrait of Jesus hanging over her desk.
“Perhaps it’s...not so much in someone you just want to snog. Perhaps that should come later. It might be...more in the person one connects with. Can laugh with. Debate with. Be alone with.”
David was getting awfully philosophical now, to the point that they may as well have been two stoned Uni students laying out looking at the stars. They weren’t 20-somethings though, so instead of a night sky it was Geraldine’s popcorn ceiling above them, comfortable couch with lumbar support below. She knew what he was getting at though, and supposed there was truth in it. If one was meant to spend the rest of one’s life with another person, it seemed there should be more to the whole thing than just physical attraction and sexual excitement. These were things she could advise a couple choosing to be married in the church without any issue, but when it came to her own choices...well. Less than stellar results, usually.
“Yes, I quite agree…” she mused, idly twirling a bit of her hair on her finger as she looked over to send him a lascivious grin. “But the snogging is quite lovely too, don’t you think?”
She meant it as a bit of a joke, but David didn’t chortle. Instead, he seemed to be searching her eyes as if he’d misplaced something there.
“You never asked me how well I snog, vicar.”
Geraldine raised an eyebrow in amused confusion but didn’t bother to move from where she was reclined beside him, even as she could spot a look of intent from a mile away. Maybe...it wasn’t frightening her so much in this context. Maybe her drunken curiosity was getting the better of her.
“Can you even do that?” she challenged, also a bit teasing...also maybe something else. “Heavy petting and David Horton don’t quite go together in my mind…”
She toyed with her crucifix out of anticipation, but didn’t wholly realize it. David, meanwhile, propped himself up on his arm so that he was now leaning over her. Strangest of all things, Geraldine found herself still not inclined to move from where she was. It was comfortable, after all...so, why should she…?
“May I endeavor to change that?” he asked, serious.
She realized what he was asking and couldn’t immediately verbalize any real reason against it, though she knew she should probably consider them. Something about...professionalism? Their dynamic thus far not being anywhere near this ballpark of activities? But then, with him this close she remembered she did quite like how he smelled, that sort of welcoming fragrance of cotton, tobacco and whatever warm, musky aftershave he used. Never let it be said Geraldine didn’t like a bit of manly aftershave smell.
Logic and reason were giving their apologies tonight, it seemed, as the only thing she could really consider was that the idea of letting him make an attempt felt like not so bad an idea. It must have been awhile for him after all, and. Well. He smelled good. And he was warm.
A halfcocked smile spread out on her face despite her better judgment and she replied in an alarmingly intimate tone,
Geraldine then found herself, quite inexplicably, pushing herself off from the back of the couch (where she’d gotten comfortable, mind you) just far enough to meet David halfway. Their lips met rather awkwardly and, at first, his was as she expected them to be- stiff, uncertain, with the not-so-faint tang of hard alcohol and smoke. The regret of attempting this washed over her a moment, just before David’s fingers found their way up the back of her neck and into her hair, causing shivers that coasted down the back of her scalp and into her spine. It was after this that his mouth seemed to find its footing as well, melding hungrily, but gently into hers in a way that made her start to fall back to where she’d been before.
Swooning, if you will. Swooning for David Horton. The thought should have horrified her. It would have...had this not been so good.
So good, in fact, that her arms were now coming to wrap themselves around him, pulling him closer. More of this, please, thank you, sir . Somewhere between the fuzziness of the alcohol and the mind-numbing work of his kisses and hands, Geraldine never thought for a second to wonder what the epic nuclear fallout of this would be, how things would ever, conceivably, go back to normal between them.
But was normal preferable when something like this made her legs and stomach go all pleasantly gooey like a hot, melty pot of chocolate fondue?
Said snogging intensified a bit, as she grew more desperate for whatever else this Don Juan in disguise as David had in store for her...but somewhere along the line, one or both of them realized this needed a pause button, fast, and reluctantly pulled apart.
They stared at each other a moment and David’s hand lingered on the back of her neck longer than necessary.
“So, that-...!” she managed, once he had properly disentangled himself. “...that wasn’t bad.” A bit of an understatement when her lips were still red and her breath was catching in her throat.
“No…” David agreed, grinning to himself more than she’d ever seen him do. “It seems we’re both rather good at that.”
“Yes...I mean, by all rights…” she argued, that bit of deviousness starting to poke through what was meant to be a very logical, objective point. “Two such people who kiss so well would be wasting effort anywhere else, yeah? It’d be an absolute travesty for two such people to not snog each other a great deal.”
David smiled at the suggestion in such an apologetic way, she could easily guess what the answer would be. Well...worth a try, odd as this all was.
“I fear...I shall once again have to return to being a bore and ask that we don’t. It’s a bit of fun now, yes, but I’m not sure it will all look the same in the sober light of morning. Speaking of which…”
David made to get up and head for his coat and other essential belongings when she dumbly asked,
“Oh...leaving already then…?”
“It would seem I must, before the drink pushes either of us to do something we’ll regret.” He didn’t wait around for the cursory, awkward goodbye in which neither of them could figure out how one politely dismisses a person they’d just been slinging tongues with a moment before. He was out the door with a quick ‘good night, vicar’, leaving her to stare in utter confusion at the liquor bottle on the table.
Then, to the portrait of Jesus as she’d just remembered it was a Saturday evening, “Well...it would seem you have a lot to explain come tomorrow morning.