"Anna is coming home," I murmured as I began to text her back.
"What, here? Or home with her mum." Liam looked up from the song sheet he was editing.
"Her mum. You know this."
"Yeah it's just earlier than she said so..."
"Liam, I don't know what to do."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean I want to be there for her but... I'm not going home for Christmas, and she's going to be there with her mum and her dad and I feel bad. I mean it's probably going to be nice, you know, having a family all together for Christmas dinner; her whole family usually gets together. But you know Anna, she's going to try and take on everything." I took a deep breath and frowned at the table. Liam put his hand on my shoulder.
"Well you could always go and see her the day before?"
"I would but you booked the Christmas Eve gig."
"Oh... yeah. Boxing day?"
"Yeah. I'll go and help them tidy. It's not a long drive really. I'll just have to borrow Jak's van."
"You're not insured."
"I'll... think of something. The trains aren't running."
"We'll take you there. And we'll help out too."
"You really are like a big brother." I gave him a hug and finished texting Anna.
Okay, safe flight! What time do you land?
I'll come an visit asap! xxx
"So are you seeing Sam today?" Liam asked.
"No. Taking it slow means that when we've seen each other we take a day or two off. Give each other some room."
"But... you've kissed right? Ali said you had." He got up and started filling the kettle. "Tea?"
"Hot chocolate please. Yes. And we kissed last night. More... we just... it's nice. To get to know her like that again."
"So you're not hitting the mattress' just yet?"
"Okay, older brother's don't ask that kind of question."
"That's why I'm your friend first." He chuckled, putting the kettle on to boil.
"Ugh." I smirked. "Okay. No. We haven't."
"And any idea on when that might be happening?"
"No, why?" I frowned.
"Because I just want to know when we can stop walking on egg shells around the subject."
"You're an ass." He threw a grin at me and started laying out mugs.
"I just don't want you to worry. You'll start over thinking the whole thing; I know you."
"Yeah well, I've promised to talk to her about it if I do. Looks like she saw that coming too." I shrugged.
"Wow. You two really are laying it all on the table before you... well get laid on the table."
"You are such a guy."
"Congratulations. You can state the obvious. And here, Captain Obvious, is your hot chocolate." He placed it in front of me and I wrapped my hands around it.
"Thank you. So you don't think it's weird?"
"That we're taking it slow when we've already... well, done everything?"
"No. It's about building that trust again. That 'harmony' I guess."
"Are you sure you're not gay?" I smirked and he rolled his eyes.
"Hey, you wanted my opinion!"
"Yeah yeah okay. So it's good?"
"Very. I'm so glad you're back on."
"Me too." I grinned, and sipped my hot chocolate. "And on that note, I have to go and get ready for work."
"We have left over cake from today; do you want me to save you a slice?" Sam said down the phone. I was trudging home after work, and it had started to snow. I could hear that she was eating, and I smiled gently.
"I wish you lived on the way back to the house because I could do with that now."
"Hard night at work?"
"Hard afternoon and night. It's been really busy; I mean busy for a Saturday. That's not just normal busy, that busy squared." She chuckled at me.
"Well how far have you gotten?"
"I'm walking by the river."
"It's slippy; you're not near the edge are you?"
"No mum, I'm not," I rolled my eyes.
"I'm just concerned. It's late and it's cold and wet and slippy and you're tired..."
"I'm being very careful, I promise." I moved an extra step away from the edge, just in case.
"Well I could meet you in the square if you want the cake now?"
"Sam, you have work tomorrow, and it's freezing out. Stay inside, all wrapped up, and I'll pop in tomorrow. As long as you can stop yourself eating my slice until then?"
"What if I said I can't?"
"You''ll get a snowball to the face." I chuckled. "Or I'll set Anna on you as soon as she lands. And you know she's grumpy when she hasn't slept."
"Oh god, the horror." She was smirking; I could tell she was smirking, and it just made me smile even more.
"I'll tell her you said that."
"No you won't, you love me too much." There was a pause, where I heard her stop breathing. "Sorry, I-"
"-I know, don't worry. Old habits. Still going slow. I know."
"Okay. I'm going to stay on the phone until you're home safe."