- Continuing With: Meredith and Lily
- Setting: Contemporary; unnamed/generic American town
- Length: 1,417 words
- Key Tropes: best friends to lovers, Big Scary Feelings, bisexual and pansexual MCs
- Content Warnings: alcohol, swearing
- Explicit?: not very
One slice of pizza remained in the box, and the bottle of wine was half empty. Meredith lifted the remote and turned off the TV.
Lily downed the rest of her glass and reached to refill it, sighing. “I wish this didn’t feel like doom,” she muttered. “I hate when you’re angry with me.”
Meredith leaned back against the arm of the couch. Her feet were inches from Lily’s leg, and she resisted the urge to unfold herself, to rest her legs across Lily’s lap. She wouldn’t like that yet. “Yeah, well, so do I.”
“I’d be handling this better if I had any idea what to say.”
“Okay, then, I’ll go first.” Meredith set her empty glass aside. “I’m completely on board with the idea of trying to make this best-friendship romantic. And sexual, when we both feel comfortable with that, though I admit that’s probably going to take some time for me, because I’m so used to trying not to think of you that way. It’s going to be an adjustment.”
Pointedly staring at the blank TV instead of looking at her, Lily sighed again. “How did I not know you were into me? This felt like a much bigger risk before I did it.”
“How was I supposed to know you had any feelings for me when half the time we go out together you end up going home with someone else?” Lily looked over at her sharply, but Meredith held up her hands in defense. “I am not shaming you for your one-night stands, you know that. But what was I supposed to think when you’re bouncing through three or four different lovers every few months? I thought you didn’t want anything serious, but I do. And you know I do, you know I’ve been looking for something stable, long-term. So why would I think you wanted to date me?”
Something in Lily’s expression softened. “You’re right. Of course you’re right. And because you would never shame me for my endless one-night stands–though some of my partners did last longer than that, I’ll have you know–you never realized that I was only having them because I thought I couldn’t have the person I really wanted.” She laughed darkly and looked away. “I’m so fucking trite, it’s pathetic.”
Meredith chucked a pillow at her, aiming for the arm not holding the wine glass. “So you’ve been pining for me, huh?”
“Go ahead, make fun of me.” She sipped her wine.
“Not now, when I’d only be indulging your self-loathing.”
That made Lily laugh again, more brightly. “I hate feeling this stupid.”
“You’re not stupid,” Meredith insisted, shifting so she sat by Lily’s side and could wrap an arm around her back. Comforting friend-level hugs were familiar territory. “Come on, how often do either of us get a new relationship right on the first try? We’re not exactly smooth talkers. You charm people into bed by being direct, then don’t end up keeping them. I mostly fail to get them into bed in the first place. Why would we be any different with each other?”
“That’s just it,” Lily whispered. “I want to be different with you. I want to be better. I know I’m picky about your partners and I never think they’re good enough for you. I can admit that, yeah, some of that might have been denial and spite, but at the end of the day, I was trying to look out for you. Just like with Jessie. If somebody gives me a bad vibe, I want you to know.” She laid her head on Meredith’s shoulder. “But since we’re being ruthlessly honest about everything tonight…I’m not good enough for you, either. As your best friend, I would tell you not to date me. I’m a mess.”
Meredith’s throat tightened with the first signs of tears forming. She leaned over a few inches to kiss Lily’s temple. “You’re my mess, though. After everything we’ve been through, after all the times we’ve put each other back together after breakups and job setbacks and family drama, don’t you trust me to have a little more patience with you than with some random guy I picked up at a bar, or a blind date a coworker set me up on?”
Lily’s arms came around her waist and squeezed, which put the sloshing wine glass dangerously close to her sweater. Meredith plucked it from her hand and set it on the coffee table. “Are we really doing this?”
“I am,” Meredith said simply. “You can still say no, and I’ll back off, and we’ll…we’ll figure it out from there.”
Lily lifted her head, gazing first at Meredith’s eyes, then her lips. “I don’t want you to back off. Can I kiss you?”
Meredith wanted to laugh at her remembering to ask first, but there was no laughter in her when Lily looked at her like that. “Yes, please.”
Lily’s mouth was soft, and the lingering taste of wine seemed different than what Meredith had drunk herself, the result of some alchemy as it combined with Lily’s own taste. Meredith yielded to the steady pressure of the kiss and let Lily bear her down to the couch and stretch over her, slotting their legs together, bringing them chest to chest. The scrape of Lily’s body against hers hardened her nipples, making them ache for a more direct touch.
Maybe she wouldn’t need much time to adjust, after all.
Too soon, though, Lily broke the kiss, pressing up on her hands, braced above Meredith. “Too much?”
“No,” Meredith breathed. “But we probably shouldn’t rush.”
“No, we shouldn’t,” Lily agreed as she sat up. Meredith pulled back as well, making space on the couch for her. “I meant what I said, Mere. I want to be better with you, and you know sex is easier for me than relationships. So I don’t want to take the easy way out, because that’s probably going to mess us up, and I don’t want to lose you.” She pushed an unsteady hand through her hair. “That’s what’s so terrifying about this. If we try this, and it goes badly–you’ll be an ex instead of my best friend. I don’t think you can be both of those things at once. So the only way this works is if it’s forever, and–” She broke off.
“And forever is pretty scary all on its own, at the beginning of a relationship,” Meredith finished for her. “I know. I think we’re still in a window, where we can step back and say, this isn’t a good idea, we’re making a mistake. Where we can still be best friends, even if it’s a little awkward for a while because we both thought about more. But Lils, I don’t think that window’s open much longer. If we really start dating, and definitely if we sleep together, I won’t be able to step back anymore. I know sex can be casual for you, but it never is for me. So if you’re still not sure you want to take this risk, I think you’d better decide now. Or at least, very, very soon. Like, before our first date, soon.”
“Okay.” Lily scrubbed the heel of her hand over her eyes, though Meredith hadn’t seen any tears falling. “Okay, that’s fair. I don’t–I wouldn’t want to hurt you, like that. So I will call you tomorrow, and I will either ask you on a date, or I will tell you I’m calling this off before it really starts. Because–because I’m too wrung out to make a decision that big tonight, tipsy on half a bottle of wine and one extremely good kiss.” She glanced at Meredith and smiled weakly. “I promise, this time, no ghosting. But I need to sleep on this and think about it more clearly tomorrow. Is that okay?”
Meredith’s heart squeezed painfully, and she hated that she couldn’t completely banish her doubt. But she smiled back, and stood, and lightly kissed the top of Lily’s head. “Get some rest. And I’ll leave you the rest of the pie, so have some for breakfast and think of me, okay? I’ll let myself out.”
“No, Mere, you don’t have to go yet–” Lily began as she reached out.
“Yeah, I do. If you want to be better with me, then I’ll be a good best friend for now and remove your temptation to be bad. No more kisses until we know where we stand.” At Lily’s pout, she grinned. “Can you honestly say you weren’t hoping we’d make out more?”
Lily sighed. “Okay, fine, go home.”
Meredith grabbed her purse and blew a kiss from the doorway.