"Adam. Adam! Are you listening to me?" Kat's voice intruded into Adam's daydream and he started guiltily. He should have been listening when she told him about the idea she had for a sketch, but he had other things on his mind at that moment. Important things.
Scary things. Or at least things that made his palms sweat and his heart race. It was a good scary though, at least he hoped so.
"Geez, am I interrupting something important?" The tone of voice alerted Adam to the fact that he was going to be in trouble if he didn't start to pull it together. So he rolled his eyes and smiled indulgently, trying to wipe his palms on his thighs surreptitiously.
Kat looked at him, her eyebrows raised, but she was relaxing and no longer on the warpath. "Well?" As usual, all it took to calm her down was seeing him smile. Something about the way he smiled at her made her believe in him. More importantly, it made her believe in herself, at least a little. It was the same smile of the boy she'd met on her first day, the same smile of the boy who wrote a story for her and spent most of his allowance on a sketchbook for her. The smile of the boy who played video games with her and let her just be herself, issues and all.
"Sorry. Just thinking about the English homework." It was a little white lie, and Adam felt ok telling that much of one to Kat. Nothing more than that, though. He told her the truth as a rule. This was a special case, however. Best of all, he knew Kat would believe it and want to change the subject.
"Ugh! I don't get how you can find that so interesting. Mr. James doesn't even let you write what you want. It has to be just the assignment, exactly as he stated it, none of that creative stuff that actually takes talent." Over the years Kat had perfected a tone of disgust. By the time they had reached grade 10 she was still the sweetest girl Adam had ever known, but she also had a sarcastic streak that was quite impressive. It surprised Adam sometimes, especially in her more bitter moments, but those were few and pretty far between. Most of the time.
Adam just laughed and shrugged, shifting in his seat. He'd started to buy different jeans, ones that he felt showed off the way he had filled out, especially when matched with one of the t-shirts that Kat had pointed out the last time they'd gone shopping, the ones she'd said had made his eyes stand out.
What she hadn't told him was that they also showed off his shoulders which she had found herself staring at more and more lately.
Adam had found his own reasons to steal glances at Kat when he hoped she wasn't looking. The bras she had bought in the past, the ones he'd blushed to see, had given way to ones he only saw hints of through her shirts. Kat's jeans had changed too, sometimes alternated with rather innocent-looking skirts that showed off her legs.
Their exchange of notebooks, however, hadn't changed. Adam closed the latest gift from Kat, pausing a moment to run a fingertip over the embossed letters on the front that spelled his name. It had been her birthday gift to him, and inside she'd redone that first map she'd drawn for him. She had reminded him every so often about that first story, suggesting he read it again and work on it. He hadn't, not yet, but she kept pushing at him.
"Come on, grab your stuff and come to the kitchen. Mom said she was going to bake some cookies for us." With that, Kat distracted, Adam stood and disappeared out the door of his room, leaving her to gather her bag and shove all her pens and pencils back inside. He had other things to look after, like heading down to the kitchen and giving his mother a nervous smile.
Mary flashed him a quick grin, patted his shoulder, then slipped past him to give him the kitchen to himself. She had no doubt that everything would work out fine, but it was obvious that Adam was nervous. It had been a long time coming, but she was glad that they had both taken their time.
Once his mother left, Adam tugged on the oven mitts quickly, tugging the last of the cookies out of the oven. Perfectly timed, as usual. Right in the center of the cookie sheet there was one heart-shaped cookie, just like he'd asked for. On the top were mini m&m's that spelled out "Kat." He'd wanted to spell out more, but there just hadn't been space. Instead he'd grabbed one of the pretty paper napkins his mom had bought and had written his note on that.
As he heard Kat thumping down the stairs he took a deep breath, then grabbed a plate, set the napkin on it, then lifted the cookie off the tray and onto the plate. It nearly fell apart - too warm - but he didn't care. No time. Then she was there, sniffing appreciatively as she grinned at him.
"Mmm. Smells great. Your mom is the best!" Kat had made her love of the chocolate chip cookies with m&m's known and Mary had ensured there were plenty around for the girl to eat. She reached for one of the cookies cooling on the rack on the counter, but Adam swatted her with an oven mitt, turning around with the plate in his hand and holding it out for Kat.
It took a second for her to realize something was going on. Then she saw that the cookie had her name on it. Then she realized it was a heart. She grinned at Adam, but he had a funny expression on his face. Oh well. His mom was so sweet, making her a special cookie.
Kat hadn't quite clued in yet, but she would. She lifted up a corner of the cookie, gingerly nibbling it as the melted chocolate smeared on her lips. Adam swallowed nervously, shoving his hands into his pockets before he yanked the napkin out and held it up to her nose so she would read what was on it. The waiting was killing him. As was watching Kat lick the chocolate off her lips.
A few more bites and Kat paused, looking down at the plate and the napkin that was being revealed. Another frown, and she lifted up the cookie, or what was left of it - most of it was gone now - and she stared at the napkin, reaching down with a finger to scoop up a chocolate chip that was in the way.
You are my princess. Will you go out on a date with me?
Kat's eyes widened as she finally figured out what the message said, then she looked up at Adam. Her mouth was open and some chocolate clung to the corner of her lips, unnoticed.
Adam waited nervously, hunching his shoulders a little as he grinned sheepishly. "Well?" The waiting was killing him.
It took another second for Kat to lick her lips and take a breath, and then she laughed, flinging her arms around his neck. "Really?! Of course! When?" Her enthusiasm caught her up, and she stayed relaxed as he wrapped his arms around her a bit hesitantly, not quite certain where he should put his hands.
"Tonight, if you can." Adam had actually planned it all out, hoping she'd say yes. "I was thinking dinner and a movie. There's that new zombie movie at the theatre!" He was finally starting to sound like the Adam she knew, especially with the zombie movie mention, but it was ok because she wanted to see it too. Plus it would give her an excuse to hold his hand maybe if she got scared.
Not that she would get scared. He was the one who got squeamish. But she could say she was scared, and he wouldn't laugh at her.
Kat looked at Adam, her hair a bit shorter than it had been that afternoon, older and hopefully wiser, and smiled a sweet, tentative smile at him. "It took us long enough to realize what we already had." Her smile turned wistful, and Adam laced his fingers with hers, giving her hand a squeeze. It had taken them so long to start dating in the first place, and then they had spent far too long apart.
"It's ok, Kat. We both had things to figure out. You had your demons, and I had to grow up. I didn't understand back then." He had thought things were so simple, but now he knew just how complicated they had really been. He knew what she had been through. And now she was back and they had another chance.