Prince Charming

It was a surprise how much fun Adam had having dinner with Sadie. He had forgotten how nice it was just to share some conversation with someone who wasn't angling for his job, or spending the time grumbling about a work environment he had hated. Sadie actually liked her job. It was refreshing. She was a decent cook, too, which was nice to know. He wasn't too awful himself after all this time. He had paid some attention to the cooking lessons his mother had given Kat, then picked up bits of things here and there. Still, it was nice eating in someone else's kitchen.

He discovered that Sadie had been living in the building for a few years, moved in a couple years after Kat left. Admittedly he only vaguely remembered her, but it was a bit embarrassing to discover how many times he had run into her and never noticed. It was like he'd been asleep or in a fog since Kat had left. The possibility of her return had started to wake him up.

Sadie was nice, good to talk to, and wonderfully relaxed. After dinner they sat around and talked, getting to know one another. She told him about growing up, her family, silly stories about people she had known. In turn he had told her about growing up there, about quitting his job.

Eventually he even mentioned Kat, tentatively. He didn't wanted to make anything awkward or suddenly share his problems with a woman who was still pretty much a stranger. Sadie jumped right into talking about it, though, asking him questions, pulling more and more of the story out of him. She thought it was sad the way things ended, but that maybe it had had to happen. In talking with her he started to look at things as part of the past, giving him another perspective. Then, it probably would have ended regardless. He and Kat had barely known who they were, had had all those dreams and plans and not that many thoughts for what it all would mean.

Now, though... Sadie helped Adam see that now he and Kat were adults. They'd had some time apart, time to really find out who they were. It sounded like Kat had discovered her dream hadn't been all she'd thought, at least that was what Adam hoped had happened. And for Adam, he had discovered that his dream was worth working at.

Now he saw just how afraid he'd been. Kat had been right, he'd given up too easily. Yes, taking the job had been a smart idea, but letting it give him an excuse to stop writing, that had been a mistake. He'd been rejected. So what? It happened. It didn't mean he should have stopped trying.

The fight with Kat, too. They'd let it be the end. He had thought he was ready to propose to her, but he'd let it rest on other things. When he'd gotten the rejection letter and she had gone to Paris, he'd blamed her. It hadn't been fair of him. He hadn't really talked to her about it. Just like she hadn't really talked to him about what she thought would happen. Had she thought of what leaving would mean for him? He knew he had assumed that she would stay for him.

It was different now. He understood about compromise. He'd been doing enough of it for a job he hated. For Kat he didn't mind making different choices.

Adam got home late after talking with Sadie and he was too nervous to look and see if there was a message. Sure, he should believe that leaving that message for her was a good thing, that she would like it and understand. It didn't mean he was ok with the chance that he had misunderstood her messages though. So he studiously did not look at the phone when he shambled into his apartment, only doing what was absolutely necessary in his nightly routine and falling into bed.

Morning brought sunshine and a sense of hope. He pushed himself out of bed to go check the phone and see if there was proof that Kat had heard his message. He had gotten very adept at getting into his voicemail, didn't even need to wait for the prompts anymore. It was only moments later that he heard exactly what he needed to hear: "Adam, I, it's me. Please wait for me," he heard. Then there was a pause. Relief made his knees weak. She'd gotten the message and she hadn't laughed at it.

"Adam, I'm sorry too, please. I want to be friends again, and maybe more." His heart sped. It was the first time she'd come right out and said it, said that she was hoping they could be together. She hadn't said that exactly, but it was what she meant. He knew that, knew her well enough to know.

She continued and it made his breath catch. "The last time I felt safe was that night, you remember it too. I'm sure, the first night we.. Were together. I felt safe. Please let me feel that one more time..."

Hearing her talk about it, about that first night, it made Adam's mouth dry. Adam had tried hard not to think about it too much since their fight. It had come to his mind every so often, though, unbidden. The sight of her skin, the feel of her so close. It had been wonderful, any imperfection simply making it better. He remembered laughing with her when he'd gotten tangled in his shirt. Again later when another mishap had occurred. In the end he had held her in his arms, cradling her against his body as his chest pressed to her back. Hearing her breathing edge towards the even rhythm of sleep had been something he had expected to spend the rest of his life doing.

Then it had fallen apart. They had let things come between them.

They could do it differently this time. They would do it differently.

In that split second, setting the phone back in the base, he worried that they were too different. The teenagers they had been were gone. Life had taken them down different paths. Would they still feel the same about the new people they were? Would she want a slightly cynical, often jaded writer who was out of practice at happily-ever-afters?

What had life done to her? What changes were permanent?

Taking a deep breath, he looked back into the bedroom. He couldn't see it, but he knew the small velvet box was there. The drawing she had done was on the dresser now where he could look at it.

Picking up the phone again, Adam went back into his voicemail and started at the beginning of the saved messages. One by one, he listened to every message she had left. He heard the changes in her voice, going from the broken-sounded woman at the beginning to the happy one who spoke about drawings and new clothes. He heard all the same fears he had in her last message.

She was still his Kat. Still his princess. They just had catching up to do. He wondered how many more days until she arrived, and whether he would be ready to face her when she did.

He hoped he was still her prince. He would do what was necessary to relearn how to be Prince Charming.

The End

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