Mutual Benefits Chapter 19


The morning sunlight poured in through the window. The room was silent, apart from Cheesecake running around in his cage. Next to me, Morgan soundly slept, hogging all of the sheets as usual. I exhaled sharply, looking at the ceiling, and grabbed my phone, rereading the last few messages Taylor sent me.I think im going to go to bed, but this was amazing. GoodnightSeriously, I dont think i ever came that hard in my entire lifeI looked from the screen back to Morgan and exhaled again. I looked back to my message history with Kevin, and saw he hadn’t responded yet. He definitely was already awake if I knew him. He’d definitely already seen my message. I shifted my mouth around in thought.I sat in silence until Morgan stirred, draping herself over me, sleepily cuddling up to me.“G’mornin’,” she practically slurred. “Wha’ time is it?”“Uh…” I looked at my phone again. “Almost ten.”“Jeez, I’m getting lazy,” she mumbled, slumping back off of me. “Did you enjoy the party?”I smiled at her. “I enjoyed what we did afterwards more.”“Tell me something I don’t know,” she joked, playfully shoving me. “I enjoyed it too,” she sleepily added.We lay there for a bit longer until she silently decided it was time to start the day. With no shame, she got up out of bed, fully naked, and stretched in front of me. I stared at her breasts with no shame, which caused her to lightly chuckle and grab them for me, playing with them a bit. After a chuckle, she grabbed a bra and some underwear, then went off to brush her teeth. “You good?” she tossed behind her as she walked off. She knew my signs at this point.“Yeah, just a lot on my mind,” I replied. I went back to my phone, unsure whose message log I was more bothered by – Taylor’s or Kevin’s.***“Welcome home,” Mother said casually as I walked through the front door. “How is Morgan?”“She’s good, Mother,” I replied. “We went to the same party Kevin went to last night.”“Ah yes, the big party,” Mother said with a nod. She smiled and looked at me. “Kevin told me he met the ‘love of his life’ there last night.”I smiled back. “And what do you think?”“Oh, he is going to meet a new girl next week and say that about her,” Mother laughed, putzing around the kitchen. Jokingly, she added, “This is your fault, Quinn! You got him into parties!”I chuckled. “I created a monster,” I added, before walking off towards my room. I tested the doorknob – Kevin locked it when he wanted privacy, since I was in the house less now – and opened the door. Nuo rushed out to greet me, but Kevin was just at the computer, browsing the internet.“Yo,” he said, greeting me with his hand.“Hey,” I replied casually, putting my stuff down on my bed. “You get my text?”“Uh, the door,” he said with a motion. I closed it and he rolled his chair back, getting out his phone. “Nah, I was, uh, kinda busy for the last little bit. A lot on my mind, you know.”“Oh, sorry,” I awkwardly replied. “It was just about the whole Morgan thing, like, if you found anything out at the party.”“If I found anything out at the party?” he asked casually. “Uh, no. Nothing doing.”“Oh,” I simply replied. “Did you, like, ask around, or…”He opened his mouth then closed it again. “Uh, yeah,  I asked a few people,” he offered quietly.“I feel like you’re not giving me the whole story,” I replied.“Well, that would probably be because I’m not,” he simply said.“…And why is that?” I asked.“Well…” he began, spinning his chair around once or twice. “Remember how I said that this could be a whole thing?”“Yeah…” I slowly said.“It seems like a whole thing,” he quickly concluded. “So, what, you lied to me about it?” I asked.“No, I never lied,” he insisted.“You said you didn’t find out about Morgan.”“You asked if I found anything out at the party,” he clarified. “And I wasn’t at the party when I found out.”“What, was it next-day stuff?” I asked. “Did you need to follow up?”Kevin sighed. “No, it was before,” he replied.I started pacing around. “Wha- so what, you wanted me to get you into the party anyway, and you planned on lying to me based on the wording of my question, you snake?” I spat out.“Hey now,” he said soothingly yet authoritatively. “Stop that. No, I mean as in I got the info from Doug.”I stopped pacing and just stared at him, waiting for him to continue.“Her brother.”“I know who he is,” I impatiently cut in. “You got it from him?”He nodded, then flashed a quick smile. “I’m so good I got the info before I even set foot at the party,” he joked.I shifted in place. “So, he knew whatever it was the whole time or something?”“I dunno if it was the whole time,” he replied. “It kind of ruins the covert op if I ask too many questions like that. It comes right back to you.”“But if it’s a ‘whole thing’ and he knew about it, why did he never tell me?”“I don’t know for sure, but if I had to guess, I think he just likes you, man,” Kevin said simply.I stared at him for a few more seconds before shaking my head. “Just tell me what it is.”“I’m trying to work up to that,” Kevin admitted. He breathed in and out a few times. “I just don’t want to see you hurt. Y’know.”“I’m an overthinker,” I told him. “Every second you tell me something is happening and don’t tell me what, my mind will keep thinking up the worst-case scenario for what it could be and convincing myself Ankara escort it’s that. Telling me would be a relief.”He cracked a smile. “Wow, then Morgan telling you there even was a thing must have been hell.”I didn’t smile back. “Yes, it was.”His smile faded. “Yeah, guess so. So, uh…” He sighed again, then closed his eyes. “Morgan has been cheating on you with a guy named Arin.” He opened his eyes again. “Doug swears by it. He’s apparently kind of furious with her about it, but he never got to confront her directly.” I processed what she said. “I actually asked her point-blank if she did. She says no. She doesn’t lie to me.”He shrugged. “I can’t do much to answer that,” he replied.“Well, you know Morgan. Can you guess who’s lying?”“Yes, I can, but what would that do for you? It would be a complete guess. It’s not like if one person who normally tells the truth can’t lie, or like, vice versa.”“So, what, the only way to know for sure would be to out Doug to her?” I asked.“You’re, uh…” Kevin gestured to his eye.“What?” My fingers went to my eyes. I rubbed around them and felt wetness. Tears. I didn’t even notice them coming out. It didn’t make sense. I wasn’t upset. We had an open relationship, albeit a clumsy one. Even if she slept with someone else, so what? So did I. I was fine with it being open both ways. I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t crying.“You should sit down, Quinn,” Kevin urged me in a serious voice. “You look, uh… yeah, you look… broken.”“Thanks,” I scoffed, sitting down. My head was abuzz with thoughts. I didn’t get it. None of this made sense, and yet, it felt like a long time coming. Simultaneously. Morgan had sex with another guy. Morgan had sex with another guy. Morgan had sex with another guy.I asked her about it to her face and she lied to me.Or Doug was lying. Was that worse? No, it was better. I mean, it was better, but more… needlessly mean. If I was being objective, I would have said that was less likely. There was less motive, right? I had to be objective.But I wasn’t objective. I was Quinn Shen. I barely heard Kevin when he offered to go into the living room and play Bloodborne or help Mother with some chores or something. My head just hit the pillow at some point, and when it came back up, Kevin was gone and over an hour had passed.Reason was telling me to go talk to Morgan immediately and sort this out, and confirm who was lying and why, and hopefully put this behind me. Even so, I remembered my talk with Taylor in that Starbucks so long ago. If I talked to Morgan now, I’d be causing a mountain of headaches for both of us. Instead, I decided to go on a walk.***“I don’t even go on walks,” Lexi complained. “I got little legs.”“I’ll go slow,” I chuckled. “I just wanted someone to be with.”“Trouble in paradise?” she joked. I guess my face gave it away, because her face immediately softened with concern. “Oh, no! Really? What’s going on?”I shrugged. “Drama,” I admitted, perhaps for the first time. “You know me.”“Oh, don’t beat yourself up,” she soothed. “I’m sure whatever it is, it’ll be gone in like a week, and everything will be fine.”“Or it won’t,” I replied, stopping for a second. “What if this is the thing that causes us to break up, and I could have prevented it or something? I feel like I need to know how to properly-”“Do you see how when you stopped walking, I had to stop walking too?” Lexi asked, interrupting me.“Um…” I squinted at her in confusion. “Yeah?”“Yeah. Keep walking,” she told me.“Lexi, I’m trying to talk about my situation with Morgan here,” I argued.“So am I,” she told me, then turned away and kept walking.Against all odds, I broke out into a smile. “Oh, you think you’re just so smooth with that one, don’t you?” I asked, unable to stop myself from giggling.She giggled back and flashed me a grin. “Yes I do,” she admitted with no remorse. “You get what I’m saying.”“To an extent,” I admitted.“And like, whatever it is, what’s gonna, like, win here, Quinn? Months of connection and you gushing about how much you love her? Or one especially spicy… like, piece or whatever, of drama?”I sighed and kept walking. “There’s a lot of factors at play,” I admitted. “I think she might have point-blank lied to me about this. She’d never done that before.”“Okay, but like, so what?” Lexi challenged me. “People are gonna lie in relationships. I lie allll the fucking time to my boyfriends.”“So, about that, ‘if you and Morgan weren’t a couple’ speech you gave to me…” I joked.“Maybe that was a lie and I don’t lie to my boyfriends,” she joked back. “No, but like, this is definitely not the first time Morgan has lied to you. Maybe it’s the first time you found out, or even the first time it meant so much, but like, girls lie. Boys lie. Even Milo lies, and he’s both!”“Milo’s a boy,” I asserted.“It was just a joke.”“Is the punchline only humorous because you don’t truly see Milo as a boy?” I asked her.“Jeez,” she replied. “Would he laugh if he was here and heard that?” I pressed on.“Well… alright, fine, sorry,” she admitted. “Whatever. Anyway, if you two can’t recover from one lie she told you, even if it’s a big lie, thank fuck she lied this early on in the relationship. Like, imagine if you guys got married or something like that and this lie Ankara escort bayan came out a few years into the marriage instead.”“I think that would make it worse,” I admitted.“So she’s cheating?” she inferred.“Uh, no,” I replied quickly, lying badly.“Quinn, I can keep a secret,” she attempted to soothe me.“Okay, so that’s a lie,” I rebutted. “One of the first things I learned about you is that you can’t keep secrets. It’s one of the core traits of your personality!”“Hey! Core? Core?!” she asked incredulously.“Yes,” I asserted.“…’Core’ means, like, one of the biggest, right?” she asked.“Yes.”“It is not core! It’s – yeah, okay. I’ll try really hard to shut up about this one though,” she admitted.“You’d better,” I said authoritatively. “I mean it. This one in particular. It could blow up really badly.”We arrived at some kind of river and stopped walking. We didn’t say anything more, but Lexi picked up a stone and tried to skip it across. It sunk immediately.“Fuck,” she spat.I picked up a nice flat rock and stared at the water, positioning my hand over and over in different ways.“Never skipped before?” she asked.“Nope,” I replied. “Well, if you want to get it right, it’s all in the wrist,” she said confidently.“You just sank it on your first throw,” I noted.“Yeah, okay, so… use your wrist better than I did,” she argued. “You ever thrown a frisbee before?”“Nope.”“Ever passed a folded note across a table?” “Nope.”“Ever… I dunno, thrown a coin at someone you owed money to?”“Nope.”“Were you born this year, Quinn??” she asked exasperatedly. “You can’t break up with Morgan. She’s teaching you how to be a normal human being.”I eyed the water, letting the words sink in. “Morgan hurt me. If whatever’s going on is true, she hurt me really badly.”“How? You fucked both Taylor and I, didn’t you?” she asked.“That’s ‘Taylor and me,’” I corrected her. “And yeah, with her permission. In your case, practically at her urging.”“Hey.”“I liked it, sorry, I liked it too. I’m happy I got to do that with you. But in this case… she didn’t ask permission, and she… lied to me about it, and…” I felt a tear drop from her eye.“Oh. Um, hey, don’t cry,” Lexi offered upon noticing me, clearly out of her element here.I flung my wrist and launched the stone out into the water. It sank without skipping. “It feels so dumb to say that the permission made all the difference, but…”“I guess telling people about it is nice, yeah,” Lexi admitted. “But does this end everything?”“No. It just… taints it.”“Taints?”“Yeah, like it affects-”“I know what it means, bozo,” Lexi defensively interrupted. “I just don’t get it, I guess.” She picked up a rock and flung it at the water. It skipped once, then sunk.“Hey, congrats,” I said half-heartedly.“Are you going to be okay?” she asked. I didn’t respond, so we stood there in silence. “Y’know, it’s weird,” she continued. “When we got closer, I kinda thought to myself that it would be kinda cool if you two broke up. Like, just to see what would happen between us. Now it just feels like it would suck if you two split up.”I chuckled. “That’s pretty honest of you,” I admitted. I picked up a rock and threw it, imitating what Lexi did. It skipped three times.“Hey, look at that, your first skip,” she said with a smile.I weakly smiled back. We found and skipped rocks the entire rest of the time we were there, and managed to skip every rock we threw.***“Hey,” I greeted Morgan at her front door. She had one of those extended bits of roof or whatever they’re called above her porch, so I didn’t get soaked by the cliched rain as I waited for my girlfriend. “How’s it going?”“It’s fine, what’s up?” she asked. “Did you want to hang out?” She looked out into the rain. “How’d you even get here?”“I, uh, got a ride. Can I come in?” I asked.I didn’t like this. It was tense already. Less than a minute in and things were already going off-script. Staring me dead in the eye, Morgan let me in and closed the door behind me. “Is it okay if we keep whatever this is short?” she asked. “I’ve kind of got a lot of stuff to do today.”“I just really need to talk to you about something. It’s importa-”“I don’t like this,” she interrupted.“I know what the secret is,” I immediately replied.She stared at me. The sounds of the pouring rain outside were the only sounds I could hear. She looked around the living room, then back at me. “And what is it?”“Did you… lie to me, earlier, when I asked you if you did something with Arin?” I asked, trying to keep myself from shaking with the nerves.“No,” she quickly replied.Changing my strategy, I said nothing. My expression didn’t change. I just stared back at her, almost blankly.Her expression quickly turned into ‘weirded out.’ “No,” she repeated emphatically. After about ten more seconds of staring, she quickly added, “I’d like you to leave if that’s okay.”“If I leave, I’m not coming back,” I replied with a quiet voice.Her breathing quickened, even though she tried to hold her expression steady. “Are you breaking up with me?”“No. But if you ask me to leave again, you’ll be breaking up with me,” I promised her.“So what are my options?”“Ask me to leave or tell me the truth.”“I don’t like that you’re forcing me to talk about something I’m clearly uncomfortable Escort Ankara with,” she said. “I think you lied to me, and if you told me the truth the first time, I wouldn’t be this demanding with you.”Morgan’s expression remained unchanged, save for her eyes getting wetter. She was holding back tears.I didn’t let up. “I trusted you, and you broke my heart.”That did it. At once, her hands flew to her face and she started crying. “How the fuck do you think I felt?!” she demanded. “Would it have fucking killed you to think about this from my – from my-”“Perspecti-”“Shut up,” she sobbed. “Perspective. Taylor kept fucking with me just to g-”“Us, Morgan. Taylor kept fucking with us,” I argued.“I’m sorry, who did she convince to have sex with her, including after knowing you were going out with me? And you went along with it!”“So that’s what this is about?!” I demanded. “We had a billion conversations about this, and you’re upset we didn’t have a billion and one?”“I’m upset because I’m always being fucked with!” she protested. “Once, just once, I wanted to be in charge of my own things without… without you…” She trailed off, clearly about to say something she regretted, and retired to the couch. I followed. The extra time allowed me to breathe. “Okay, first things first,” I said as calmly as possible. “Did you, or did you not, sleep with Arin?”“I’m not answering that,” Morgan replied angrily.“So you’re telling me to leave?” I asked.She glared at me. “Fuck you. Yes, I did.”“How many times?”“Three.”“Three?” I asked in shock. “When?”“I’m not answering that and I’m never answering that,” she asserted. “If you want to play your stupid fucking ‘walk out the door’ game with me, I’ll see you never.” This was so new for Morgan. This wasn’t the calm adult-in-the-room she was even when she was upset. This was something new.“Okay, so you slept with Arin three times while you were with me. I can guess when the first time happened,” I reasoned, partially to myself. “So why didn’t you just tell me when it happened? I mean, we were messy, but we were open at that point, kinda. Unless… was this before…?”“No, this was after I caught you with Taylor,” she admitted. She looked at me for a bit and sighed, tears still on her face. “Look, it was… bad. I didn’t like it, I didn’t even want it past a certain point. I thought it would help me get even. It… didn’t.”I was getting confused. “I don’t get this. Why?”“Why what?” she asked exasperatedly.“Why any of this!”She huffed. “I fucked my ex because Taylor got to fuck you.”“We didn’t go all the w-”“Shut up, just shut up,” she ordered childishly. “If you wanted a fucking response then let me fucking talk, for fuck’s sakes. You don’t need to nitpick and correct every single little fucking thing.”I didn’t take well to being yelled at, and could feel my own tears coming on. “Okay, go ahead,” I said in a small voice.“Okay. So, I got – right, I fucked him. He was begging for it for a while, and I thought it would feel good. He and I were, uh, friends with benefits after we broke up, mainly because he was the only guy I could tolerate for a long while. But I, like, only tolerated him. Sleeping with him again just reminded me how shitty and empty my life felt. Shitty and empty.”I nodded along, even though it was breaking my heart. “And why didn’t you tell me that you were doing this? Wouldn’t that have helped keep things transparent between us? You even made us officially open to friends.”“Use your fucking brains, Quinn. I hated that I did it. I wanted to pretend I didn’t do it. You could do it because it was already in the open. I didn’t want you to know that I did the same shitty things.”“So you wanted to be better than me?” I asked with heat.“You know what, yes! I wanted to be better than just cheating and manipulation. I wanted the whole thing to be behind us, and after the first time, I figured we could just go on and make our relationship better and never worry about it again!”“Um, that doesn’t explain the other two-” Oh. I was getting it. Stopping mid-sentence, I shifted myself in place. With a new voice, I thought out loud. “After the second time, you opened up the relationship. You encouraged me to go after Lexi.”With a sad expression, she nodded.“To make yourself feel better about doing it with him a second time. But why’d you even do it with him a second time at all?”“Because he’s an asshole and I was addicted to him. Happy?” she spat. “Because I hate myself. Because thanks to fucking Taylor, I can’t be happy in any relationship, so I may as well ruin shit on my own terms.”“Morgan, I would have been fine if you just told me what you did,” I protested. “You made us open. I practically wanted you to make our relationship evenly open. If you told me that you wanted to sleep w-”“Listen to me when I say shit!!” she interrupted. “I didn’t want to sleep with him! I hated sleeping with him, and I hated myself for going back, but it was the only thing that made sense! You’re just not listening! That’s your problem, Quinn, you just don’t, fucking, listen!” She buried her head into the couch, and judging by the way her head was moving, she was sobbing. “Why can’t you get that telling you meant, like, fucking saying it? Telling you makes it real! I wanted to grow, not wallow! I’m allowed to be angry!”“Why are you allowed to be angry and I’m not?” I demanded. “You lied to me about sleeping with someone else! I asked you if you wanted to sleep with someone, you said no, and I even asked if you and him were doing something and you said no! What the fuck is wrong with you?”