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Story Title: Friends

Type of story: oneshot

Main Characters: Rachel/ Hugh

BTTB rating: T mild SC

Genre: Romance, angst

Does story include spoilers: no

Any warnings: Mild sexual content

Summary: Just an idea I had that maybe Rachel and Hugh had a little something more than fiendship going on at uni. Maybe something unresolved between them which explaines the sexual tension between them when he comes to the bay.

A huge thank you to I love music for proof reading and giving suggestions on this.


Irritably she tapped her fingers in a random rhythm against the desk and chewed anxiously on the end of her pen. The clock on the wall seemed to fade in and out of focus but the tick, tock was almost ominous. Echoing through the silence inside her.

“Five minutes remaining.”

The adjudicator’s voice was met with an increased scurrying of pens on paper for some or a turning of pages as others checked their answers over. But for some it did not even make them move from their position of idly clock watching the time away.

A knot had been building in the base of her stomach, the butterflies caused by a certainty that she had wasted valuable time but for some reason she just couldn’t be bothered with the last half an hour of the exam. The paper hadn’t been easy, it hadn’t been hard and she had made decent progress despite the fact she was certain she had made mistakes.

The problem was that for the first time in her life she couldn’t focus on the exam. The past six years work, all her dreams and aspirations, those of her family, of her father. all seemed not to matter anymore.

She glanced across the room to where he sat. To somebody who didn’t know him, he looked completely at ease, his long legs stretched out under the table, his broad shoulders slouched back comfortably, relaxed against the hard wood chair. So relaxed, so leisurely and unhurried, that the paper he scanned could have been a sports paper or car magazine, even some random advertising leaflet.

She knew him better though. She knew him so well. Those dark brown eyes were concentrating hard on examining every answer, that wonderful brain was whirring with past knowledge and pieces of revision and his lips were set in a hard line of concentration. This meant everything to him and he had worked hard for it. He’d do well though, of that she was certain but then he did everything well.

Her lips tingled and she removed the pen, placing it on the desk and instead traced her finger around her lips. She could still feel the harshness of his stubble as his mouth had brutally savaged hers with desire she had not known him capable of. His taste still lingered in her mouth, just the memory of him was playing havoc with her senses.

His kiss had come from nowhere.

Stressed out after weeks of hard revision and exams, the culmination of six years work, she had sat hunched over her desk, her shoulders, hands, mind, everything aching. Physically and mentally exhausted. He had started with a massage, his big, smooth, masculine hands gently kneading the knots out of her neck and shoulders. She had been instantly relaxed, her best friend doing what he always did, soothing, comforting, taking all her cares away.

She had thought she was imagining it at first. His breath, warm on her neck, had planted a gentle kiss on her skin and she had dismissed it as nothing. Then it had happened again and his lips had been hot against the nape of her neck and she had shivered involuntarily as he had traced a line round to her mouth, capturing her lips in his, kissing her as she had never been kissed before. And she had kissed him back.

In her defence, she had been tired after weeks of long study and they had been spending such a lot of time together. He was her closest friend, surely it was only natural that they’d turn to each other to unwind? It wasn’t as if she liked him or anything, just that at that moment in time she so badly needed to release some tension and his mouth had been ready, his body willing and eager.

He had discarded her clothes in a matter of furious seconds and she had lain there on the bed, her body aching for the closeness that only he could provide. And he had provided it, he had kissed every inch of her and relieved her tension in a way that bought a blush to her cheeks just to think of it.

“Okay, pens down.”

The adjudicator cut though her memories in such a brutal way that she jumped involuntarily and looked around the room, afraid she had been caught out. That somehow the occupants of the exam hall knew exactly what she had been thinking, what she had been remembering.

She looked across at where he sat and this time he looked up, his intense brown eyes meeting hers as he waved his hand, asking silently whether the exam was a thumbs up or thumbs down. She gestured back her indication that it had been so so and wasn’t surprised when she received a thumbs up in return. She couldn’t help but grin, her best friend always had to go one better.

The exam papers were collected up and they were dismissed from the hall but she didn’t move. Now the exam was over, their time at Uni was also over. Later today their parents would pick them up and take them home to sit nervously over the break waiting for the results that would determine their futures. After today they wouldn’t be sharing an apartment anymore, she wouldn’t be cleaning up after his dirty laundry or sitting down to eat his speciality pasta in tomato and pesto sauce. There would be no more wild nights out on the town or giggling at each other across lecture halls.

No more nights like last night.

“Come on, Armstrong, anyone would think you wanted to sit the exam all over again!”

His teasing voice shook her back to reality, the sharp poke of his finger on her arm caused her to look up at him indignantly but she wasn’t mad at him. How could she ever be mad at him?

The hall was empty now and she stood up, pushing her seat back under the wooden desk. “I just can’t believe it’s all finally over, five years of our lives, all done with.”

She could hear the emotion in her own voice and she felt sadder about it than she would ever have thought possible.

“Yeah, it’s weird, isn’t it? Still good though, huh? We get to hit the big wide world now.” Ever the optimist, he refused to be down, even for a second.

“That’s assuming we pass of course,” she reminded him.

He frowned at her for a second before grabbing her arm and dragging her from the exam hall.

“Come on, Miss Negativity, of course we’re going to pass! Don’t you remember how hard we’ve worked?”

His eyes had a playful expression in them as he tucked his arms around her waist and half pushed her out of the Uni building. She blushed, relieved that he was standing behind her and so couldn’t see her face.

“So what now then?” She asked the deliberately open question but her heart was pounding with the need for a definite answer. She pulled her clear pencil case closer to her chest, still not daring to look at him.

“Now we go the pub.” His enthusiasm was infectious and for a whole afternoon of matching each other in the pint downing stakes, just as they’d done many a night before, her mind was kept free from dwelling on the events of last night.

All too soon though it was time to head back to the dingy student flat where the majority of their things were already packed away ready for the trip home. Both sets of parents were waiting outside.

Her Dad hadn’t come as usual, too busy with work, but her Mum was there, homely and loving as ever and she hugged Rachel hard with only the smallest of reprimands for being drunk. The laid back Sullivans greeted Hugh lazily before embracing Rachel in a sea of warm hugs and the flat door was opened and the cars packed up before Rachel had even managed to sober up.

They stood, just the two of them in their empty flat, not speaking, but with tears streaming down her cheeks as she lost herself in memories of all their happy times.

“Rach, about last night...?” he began.

She turned to look at him, her eyes seeking his, her breath caught in her chest. He was looking at her with such a tenderness, his gentle fingers brushed away the tears from her face and she bit her lip in anticipation. The ticking of her watch almost ominous. Echoing through the silence inside him.

“Rachel, Hugh, are you ready!” His father’s voice broke through whatever spell had been cast over them and Hugh stepped back slightly opening up an invisible chasm between them.

“It’s been a good five years huh? You and me will stay close, right?”

It was all Rachel could do to nod dumbly as he bent his lips to gently brush hers. A friend’s kiss, filled with tenderness and affection and words unspoken.

She followed him outside, wishing desperately that they hadn’t been interrupted, wanting so much to hear what he had been about to say. But maybe it was better she hadn’t heard it. They were friends, best friends and last night had been, well, a one off, wonderful but not enough to break a friendship for. Did she really need to hear Hugh say it? And what would she tell him in return? She couldn’t exactly say “I love you” not when she was certain he didn’t feel the same. Why ruin a friendship for something that couldn’t be?

His parents were already in the front seat of the car as he opened the door, lingering just a second before climbing in. She looked so desolate, devastated, her pepper pot of curls held up by a clip that could barely restrain them. One loose tendril had escaped and was resting just over her eyes and it was all he could do not to run over there, push it back behind her ears and kiss those beautiful lips, smooth away those tears.

What was the point though? The last five years had been, well, just about the best of his life. She had been the best friend he had ever had, the best friend he could ever have wanted. Last night had been madness, a split second of madness.

A little voice in his head reminded him that she had responded, she had been willing but a deeper part of him knew that it had been a one off. A wonderful experience, something to keep but never to be repeated.

She had been so tense all day, he had watched her during the exam, had noted the lines of tension in her shoulders, seen the turmoil, the distance on her face. She hadn’t even been able to meet his eyes she was so ashamed of what had happened and their friendship was worth more than that. What would be the point in telling her he loved her when he was certain she didn’t feel the same. Why ruin a friendship for something that was never going to happen.

With one last look in her direction he stepped into the car and pulled the door shut behind him.

He waved to her through the window as the car drove away and she felt so bittersweet at their parting. As the tyres whipped up a cloud of dust it felt as if a whole chapter of her life had disappeared in a puff of smoke. The sun warmed the back of her neck but she doubted those parts of her body would ever feel warmth the way they had when he had kissed her. But he had promised they’d stay close and she believed him. After all he’d never let her down before and he was her best friend and hopefully always would be.


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