by Enola Jones

Peter and Lydia had been friends for quite some time. Since before he'd met the Monkees, in fact.

So it was a complete mystery to the others why they were still just friends!

"C'mon, Pete," Micky wheedled as Peter brushed his hair while he waited for her. "You've known this chick for nearly seven years!"

"Yes, I have," Peter said evenly as he sat the brush down and met Micky's eyes in the mirror. "And she's my oldest friend."

"Yeah, well, see, that's just it, babe!" Micky said, squeezing his shoulder. "Seven years is an awful long time to just be friends with a chick!"

"She's not a chick, Micky," Peter said as he turned and smiled at the gathered three. "She's Lydia." He walked past them out into the living room.

"That's it, isn't it?" Davy suddenly said, his brown eyes alight. "You're afraid to make the first move!"

"Guys, give it a rest," Mike said. "When the time's right, Peter'll move."

Peter laughed. "You don't get it, do you? She's my friend. A man and a woman can be friends without having to --" The door knocker interrupted him. "She's here."

"Go get 'em, Pete!" Micky cheered.

"Sweep her off her feet!" Davy said enthusiastically.

"Just be yourself, Peter," Mike said as he brushed lint off of Peter's shoulder. "Chicks dig that."

Peter, for his part, rolled his eyes and grinned as he left the Pad. "Sorry for not inviting you in."

The girl waiting for him rolled her blue eyes. "They were acting up again?"

"Yeah." He sighed and draped his arm over her shoulders easily as they walked. She was only a few inches shorter than his five foot ten, and it wasn't any effort at all to be himself with her.

After all, she knew him Before.

"They're still on this 'you need to make the moves on her' kick," he finished with another sigh.

Lydia shook her head, her dark brown hair rubbing his arm as she did. "They just don't understand, Peter."

"I know."

They walked down the beach in silence awhile, and then Lydia asked, "You think they have something?"

"I'm not sure. I mean, I've never thought of you that way."

"Nor I you." She stopped and took his hands, turning to face him. "But I've read friends make the best couples."

"Lydia!" he gasped.

"Let's just try it, Peter. That way, at least we'll know."

He stared at her for a long moment, and then he nodded. "You're right." He lowered his head and brushed his lips against hers.

Slowly, her arms went around his shoulders and she pulled him closer, deepening the kiss until it was a toe-curling one involving every part of their mouths, their hands gently stroking each other's necks and backs....

When they separated, both of them were breathing hard. Lydia looked deep into Peter's eyes before whispering, "So... did you feel the... the same way I did just then?"

He studied her eyes in return before smiling ever-so-slightly. "You mean excruciatingly awkward?"

"That would be the feeling, yes." She burst into laughter, heartened when he joined her.

Peter drew her into a tight, warm hug. "We've got a good thing going as we are, Lyd. I don't feel appropriate trying to force it into something else."

"Me either," she said, returning the hug. "If it ever does become something else, that's fine. If it doesn't--"

"Then that's fine too!" they said together, laughing. With a final squeeze, they parted and fell into an easy walk, their arms around each other in warm companionship.

After awhile of comfortable silence, Lydia said, "Thank you."

"Hmm? What for?"

She squeezed him slightly. "For being content to be my friend."

His dazzling smile shone on her, and then he turned to watch where they were going. He still smiled as he spoke. "I am content, Lyd. I like us being 'just friends'." He moved the fingers of his free hand to make the quotes, making her laugh. When it ended, his smile grew. "It's less... pressure... this way."

"Agreed one thousand percent," Lydia sighed. Then she stopped again, looking him square in the eyes. "Though I am still confused about something."

"What is it?"

"You." At his puzzled frown, she went on, "You're still acting the space case."

He sighed. "Lydia, you know why."

"I know why you were," she countered. "But you're fully recovered from that accident now! Peter, why won't you let them see the real you?"

He moved away from her and jammed his hands in his jeans' back pockets. He looked out over the sunshine sparkling on the ocean for a long moment before he told her the unvarnished truth.

"I don't know, Lyd. I truly don't know."


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