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Prudence, Chapter 5

Kristen returned, still in a silent daze, with Kayla, who shot him a curious look.

Mark smiled and drove to his house.

Once there, Kayla said, "See that computer? It's a nice computer. I think I can be fascinated by it for a few hours, at least. But home by 11, guys."

Mark grinned, glancing at Kristen to remind her that she still needed to talk to Kayla. He was also wondering if she told Kayla.

Kristen blinked. "Um. Right. I do have real homework, too."

"I'll work on the computer till you're done then, Kristen," he said.

"Can you help me with my math, Kayla?"

"Sure, hon. C'mon."

The girls retreated to the kitchen table. Mark busied himself on the computer, keeping an ear cocked.

*mumble mumble*

*laugh*

"What?! Grrrr!"

*affirmative mumble*

*embarrassed silence*

*whisper whisper whisper* *sniff* *sob*

Mark listened more closely. As far as he could tell, both of them seemed to be apologizing to each other. They were also both crying.

He got up and walked to the doorway, looking puzzled. The girls had pushed back from the table and Kayla was hugging Kristen. They really were both crying.

Kayla noticed him in the doorway and shot him an angry glare before pointedly ignoring him.

"Ah, I don't want to intrude, but is something wrong?"

Kristen froze. Kayla sighed, "Just some miscommunication. Go 'way."

Mark looked at the tears on their faces with concern, trying to decide whether Kristen wanted him to go or stay.

Kristen sniffed. "S'okay. We're just talking."

"O-kay. I'll just be in the other room then." Mark retreated, but kept his ear cocked.

*really quiet whispering* *sniff* *sniff*

*giggle*

*silence*

*footsteps away just a bit* *giggle* *silence*

He didn't hear anything after they apparently went into the living room. Mark wondered what was going on, but controlled his curiosity.

*loud gasp, quickly muffled*

Mark raised an eyebrow, and very quietly went to make sure they were okay. They were on the couch together. Kissing. Hands under each other's shirts.

He raised an eyebrow, then turned and went back in the other room. They knew where he was if they needed him.

"Ah! Mmmmm..."

*pitter patter pitter patter*

*tap tap* on the door frame.

Mark turned his head. "Hm?

Kristen peeked around the doorway. "Mark? Can you come in here a minute?" Just her head was showing.

He stood. "Sure."

She darted back the to the living room.

Mark walked to the living room, finding that the girls had folded the couch out into a bed. They were both completely topless.

He stared. "Bwah?"

Kristen pointed to the chair beside the couch. "Sit there."

Mark nodded, and sat. "Uh..."

Kayla blushed and pretended fascination with the weave of the arm of the couch, but a wicked gleam was in her eyes.

"May I ask what's going on here?" Mark said. "Not that I'm not enjoying the view, but..."

Kristen raised an eyebrow.

"What? You want me to lie?" Mark grinned.

"No, I just thought a man with two Ph.D's could recognize sex when he saw it."

"You know what I meant, love."

"You have to stay in the chair, but you can watch. That's what we decided for now. You hurt Kayla's feelings, and I did, too. And that's what she wants."

"Wait. How did I hurt your feelings, Kayla?"

Kayla sighed. "S'okay. You didn't mean to." She'd taken her glasses off and, for the first time he could recall, her hair down. There was quite a bit more of it than you would have thought, a mass of tight curls, rich mahogany in color. She looked like almost a different person. And those baggy clothes hid more than he would have thought, too. "You didn't have all the necessary information."

"Because I didn't take you seriously?"

Kayla shrugged. "You didn't know there was any reason to. And I had not meant to say that out loud, anyway. But you should have at least thought of the possibility that I might have been, anyway."

Mark sighed. "Kayla, I'm sorry. It never occurred to me you could be serious. I mean, it's surprising enough to me that one of you is interested; I'd never have dreamed that both of you would be. Will you do something for me, so that I can make it up to you?"

"Just because one girl isn't insecure, doesn't mean that most of us aren't. No way I was going to admit to such a thing. And no way I was going to do so after the two of you got together, especially. I wasn't going to hurt Kristen for that. But you told her and made her think about it, so she got hurt anyway. That's why I'm mad at you."

"Did she tell you why I told her?"

"Yep. Doesn't excuse it. She thought I might be serious.

"Ask me again."

"Uh-uh."

Mark nodded. "Please. I want you to hear what my answer would have been if I'd known you were serious. And I want Kristen to hear it, as well."

"Hmm. I'll ask you to tell me that answer, but I won't ask a question that isn't true right now. Good enough?"

Mark considered. "Good enough."

"Okay, what would you have answered if you'd thought I was serious, then?"

"Kayla, I'm very flattered, and I won't deny that I'm interested, but I'm not going to do anything that might hurt Kristen. I don't know how she would feel about it, and I won't risk hurting her." He paused.

"That's what I would have said last night. It's not true any longer; I do know how Kristen would feel about it. It would hurt her, so I won't do it. It's not because you aren't attractive, or because I don't like you, but because I've made a commitment to Kristen, and I won't break that."

Kayla sighed again. "Yeah, that would have got you some bonus points."

"It's the truth, Kayla." Mark said, "I'm sorry I hurt you. It honestly never occurred to me that you could possibly be attracted to me."

Kayla shrugged. "Everyone sees me as asexual, it's not particularly surprising."

Mark's lips quirked. "I don't think you understand, Kayla. It's not that I think you are asexual."

She snorted. "Sure."

Mark said, quietly, "I didn't think you would be attracted to me."

"Half the girls in the school have a crush on you. Some of them have to take a towel to class to wipe up the drool. You can notice Todd asleep under his hair in the back row but you don't notice how many girls are making puppy dog eyes at you?"

"That's what I said," Kristen muttered.

Mark shrugged. "It's true. Ask Kristen how shocked I was when she told me about the girls having a crush. I honestly had no clue. Maybe it's a blind spot."

"I mean, there's not been a day this week when you couldn't tell that Karen's bra and panties matched," Kayla said, shaking her head.

Mark had the grace to look embarrassed. "I wasn't looking at Karen's bra and panties."

"How? I mean, they've been right in your face all week." Kristen asked.

"I was looking for yours."

"Karen's are bigger. Easier to spot," Kristen said.

Kayla snickered. "Poorer quality, though."

Mark smirked. "That's the truth. Yours are much better, love." He glanced at Kayla. "Yours aren't bad either."

Kayla looked at her breasts in a rather fond way. "Yeah, I'm actually kinda happy with them. They draw too much attention if I show em off, though." Her breasts were about C-cup, quite large for someone of her age and size, especially as her body was the thin, wiry-muscled type.

"Will you please believe me that I didn't mean to hurt you, and that I'm very flattered?" Mark looked at Kristen, wondering if she told Kayla yet.

"I said from the beginning that you didn't mean to hurt me. S'okay. Really it is."

"And do you understand why I didn't realize it might hurt Kristen?"

"Um, no, honestly. Even if you thought it was a joke, you couldn't be certain she wouldn't think it was serious."

"Because I made it clear to her that I thought it was a joke. I really don't think Kristen is the type to get jealous without good reason, and I didn't think there was any reason."

Kayla shook her head. "Emotions aren't necessary reasonable, and you did know she was new at this whole 'giving a shit' thing, didn't you?"

Kristen blushed and looked away.

Mark paused. "There's also the fact that we hadn't really discussed exactly where our relationship was. I knew that I'd like it to be more than just lovers, but I wasn't sure where she wanted it to be."

"I told you she was in love with you. Didn't you believe me?"

He nodded. "But that doesn't necessarily mean she wanted our relationship to be more than lovers yet. It made it likely, yes. But she might have been afraid to make it more, or wanted to keep it low-key for some other reason. I'm trying very hard here not to make assumptions, thought I'm obviously not succeeding very well."

"I dunno...the default condition implied by 'she loves me' is 'she would be hurt if she thought her friend had tried to get me to sleep with her'. It was just a mistake, though. You've been forgiven. S'okay."

Mark looked slightly embarrassed. "Yeah, I suppose that is the default condition here. It wasn't with the friends I had in college. Which probably affected my approach." He looked at Kristen. "How much of our conversation did you go into?"

Kristen said, quietly, "Not everything."

"You can bet it's the default condition for 14 year old country girls, okay?" Kayla said.

Mark nodded. "Well, I'm sorry I hurt you, and I'm sorry I hurt her. I'm hoping that I've made it up to her, but that's for her to decide."

"You didn't mean to, Mark. And the fact that you're still here...you didn't run away, is worth just about anything to me," Kristen said.

Mark held out his arms. "Come here a sec?"

Kristen glanced at Kayla, then crawled across the couch to him.

Mark hugged her tightly to him. "I really am sorry I hurt you, love," he whispered in her ear. "Two questions for you: First, did you just not get around to telling her, or do you not want her to know? Second, what's the purpose of having me watch? Is it supposed to be punishment, or what?"

Kristen whispered back, "I didn't know if you'd want me to tell anyone, Mark. I wouldn't unless you told me I could. And...it was punishment, a bit, I think, but also, well...forgiveness too. Sort of like...like a promise, y'know?"

"Anyone but her, no, but she already knows enough...either it's safe to tell her, or we're screwed anyway. And...a promise?"

Kristen nuzzled up against his neck and he can actually feel the heat of her blush.

"Hmmm?" he asked.

Kristen shrugged slightly.

Mark whispered. "C'mon...tell me..."

"Mark..you know what I meant."

She could feel his lips curve in a smile against her throat. He nibbled a bit. "Tell me...please."

Kristen whispered, almost too low to hear, "A promise for... later. Or, at least, a promise to try."

"All three of us?"

Kristen nodded mutely.

He kissed her neck. "Thank you for the thought, my love, but you do not have to do that for me. You are enough for me; I don't need anything more. Yes, it would be fun, but I don't need it, and I won't be disappointed if it never happens, okay?"

She kissed his ear. "I know," she murmured. "That's why it actually might."

Mark pulled back slightly, and kissed her on the lips, briefly but thoroughly. "You want to tell her?" he asked softly.

"I don't know how! It's not something I ever thought about doing before."

Mark smiled. "Just tell her."

Kristen shivered, and crawled out of his arms, slithering back to where Kayla waited and snuggling up to her, whispering in her ear.

Kayla didn't look very surprised, just asked quietly, "What did you say?"

"I said yes."

Now Kayla looked surprised. "You did? Wow. She did?" She looked at him inquisitively.

Mark nodded. "She did."

"Amazing. That soon, huh? I thought it would take longer."

Mark raised an eyebrow. "How long did you think it would take?"

"A couple of months at least. Maybe longer."

Mark just grinned. "So I'm just supposed to watch, here?"

"Yep. Just watch. No touching; not us or yourself."

He winced. "Ouch. That's cruel."

Kayla grinned. "Yep. That's kinda the point."

Mark made big puppy-dog eyes.

"Idiocy is punished. Obedience is rewarded."

Mark frowned. "I don't think I'd categorize my mistake under idiocy."

"Welllll....maybe not quite that bad. But then, according to most men, watching two girls make out isn't exactly punishment, either."

Mark sighed. "Not if they can touch themselves, no." He hesitated.

"Look. Kristen, I love you. I hope you know that. You don't have to punish me to get what you want. Kayla, you are one of my two closest friends, here. You don't have to punish me, either. Frankly, there's not much I wouldn't be willing to do for you, as long as it didn't hurt Kristen, or stop me from fulfilling my commitments. I may not be in love with you, but I do care for you very much. If the two of you still feel I need to be punished, I'd rather sit down and work it out like adults." He sighs again.

"I'm not saying I wouldn't love to watch you make out -- but only if you want to be watched. I don't think sex is something you should use to control someone, even indirectly."

"Kristen doesn't think you need punishing. But she does want a safer way to explore her feelings on the matter than jumping into an orgy. I'm still pissed at you for making her cry, logical or not. At myself, too, for causing it."

"Then let's work that out in some other fashion. Kayla, do you really want to look back on your first time with Kristen, and remember that part of the reason you did it was because you were mad?"

Kayla raised an eyebrow. "If you really think that the reason I want to sleep with Kristen is because I'm mad at you, then you really are unobservant."

"I said part. You don't look blind." Mark shook his head. "No, no, it'd be even worse for you if you were, considering how blind people find out what people look like."

"Not even part. I wanted to sleep with her before I even met you. It's just the 'you watch once without touching' bit that's because I'm mad at you. I'd be happy to sleep with her without you being involved at all, too. Though it's also a turn-on, weird as that sounds."

Mark grinned. "Like the thought of being watched, do you?"

Kristen blushed bright red. Kayla snickered. "Maybe. Or maybe I just like the thought of men suffering. You never know."

"Kayla, this is mean," Kristen said.

Kayla sighed. "Kris, honey, I'd call it foreplay, but I want to give you the option of changing your mind about everything."

Kristen didn't seem to know what to say to that. Finally, she settled on "Yeah, but...I didn't think it would really hurt him. Y'know? I thought he'd think it was...well...fun?" She looked at Mark apologetically.

"Watching you would be fun. Even watching you and not touching. It's using it for punishment that's not fun, you see?"

Kayla sighs again. "Okay. Yeah, I guess I do see. Look, then..." She stops to think. "Watch because we want you to. Because she thinks you'd enjoy it. But don't touch, because that might be too much...let her deal with neutral, see how you handle seeing her with someone else as opposed to merely knowing, in the abstract, that it's happening. Be here because the woman you love wants you here. Don't do anything else, yet, though, because this is hard, and not the safest thing in the world."

Kristen nodded, more satisfied with that.

Mark looked at Kayla for a moment, then leaned over the bed, stretching so that he could whisper in Kristen's ear. "That's an incredibly good answer, love. Would you kiss her for me, and show her just how impressed I was by it?" He sat back up.

Kristen smiled tentatively, and he smiled back at her, trying to show her that he was comfortable with this under those terms. She turned back to Kayla, wrapping her arms around her and tilting her face up for a kiss.



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