Reality Intrudes on an Idyllic Evening

Ah, the first date. Kat had decided not to go home to tidy up but instead had barricaded herself in the bathroom at Adam's house after calling home. Mary had knocked and been allowed entrance, but Adam had been left to his own devices for much longer than he had expected. They'd been best friends for so long, he hadn't really anticipated that this would change things, or at least not this part. There were certainly things he was anticipating the change of though.

The thought of Kat primping for him gave him butterflies in his stomach and he finally locked himself in his room, brushing his hair again to try to calm that one stubborn chunk that always fell in his face, looking through his clothes to try to find a shirt Kat had picked out for him only to find it in the laundry - with good reason - and settling for one that he thought made him look more grown up, a soft blue t-shirt that was free of any slogans or strange pictures, one of the newer ones that wasn't quite so baggy. He also grabbed a clean pair of jeans, black ones that Kat had suggested. It had never occurred to him before how much he relied on Kat's help picking out clothes - she had complained once when she saw him just randomly grab clothes without paying much attention and since that point he'd taken her with him.

Adam peeked out his door, eyes narrowed as he looked at the bathroom door. He had to close his own quickly as the bathroom door opened - he didn't want to be accused of waiting impatiently or spying or anything. He opened the door again and stepped out, stumbling slightly as he saw her. She was still in the same clothes, but something had happened to her hair. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was something different. And there was make-up. She'd never really worn any before, but it looked nice on her. Not too overdone, but he could sort of see some eyeshadow and her lips were shiny.

Kat looked at Adam from under her eyelashes, scrunching the carpet with the toes on one foot uncomfortably. If he laughed she vowed she'd hide his notebook for a month at least.

He didn't laugh though. When she looked at him he had a funny look on his face, a good funny look, and she grinned at him. It felt good to know that he was looking at her like that, like he wasn't absolutely sure who she was but he really wanted to find out. She was glad she'd asked Mary's help.

It took Adam a few seconds with his mother looking on rather smugly to manage to stammer out, "You look really nice and weshouldgetgoingsowewon'tbelate."

He sucked in a big breath at the end, grabbed Kat's hand and started to bolt, stopping at the last second to run back into his room and grab his bag. He had borrowed a bit of money from his dad so he could pay for pizza and the movie for both of them.

Then he was tugging Kat out of the house while she giggled and looked a little bemused. Usually if they were racing out of the house it was a true race, but this time Adam was the one in a hurry.

Ordering pizza was easy, as it always was with them.

"Pepperoni, please. A medium."

"And mushrooms. And extra cheese."

"Exactly."

They'd done it so many times that the waitress just rolled her eyes a bit, not even bothering to write it down, just yelling back that Kat and Adam were in before delivering a coke float  and an iced tea to their table.

Adam found himself suddenly unsure what to say. He should say something, obviously, but were their usual conversations ok? It was a date, after all, and he wasn't sure talking about homework or making fun of a band was what he was supposed to do. Then he had it: he asked Kat about her sketches.

She smiled at him, hair tucked behind one ear, and left a lipgloss print on her straw before digging a spoon into her glass to scoop up some ice cream. "I actually was kinda working on a surprise for you. Ummm... I did some sketches for that story you're writing. I don't know if they're what you were thinking of, but when I read it it got into my head." They hadn't collaborated all that often, but it had happened occasionally since that first map.

Seeing Kat's face get so animated when she started to describe the sketches, Adam knew he'd made the right choice. He also found himself drawn into the conversation, talking about how he saw the characters and the scenes. She even tugged out her sketchbook, letting him see what she'd been working on. He found it oh so easy to talk with her about it, and seeing her sketches gave him ideas for the story, the two of them so caught up in their discussion that they had to scramble to move the sketchbook so there was room for the pizza.

The sketchbook was stowed carefully, but the conversation continued, branching out into new story ideas and daydreaming of the things they could do together. The idea that they might not always be best friends didn't ever occur to either one. It was as natural as breathing for them to talk and laugh and share things and dating seemed like the logical progression of that, leading to spending the rest of their lives together.

Once they finished the pizza, which was fairly cold by the time they got to the last slice, they raced to the movie theatre, Kat tugging Adam's arm this time and telling him to hurry up. They had missed a minute or two of the movie, but neither was all that concerned.

They settled in with a small popcorn and a big drink, but this time when they both reached for popcorn at the same time they flinched a little as their fingers touched. Each one was wondering what they should or shouldn't do. Finally Adam took Kat's hand and she shifted in her seat, moving closer.

The first scene of zombies actually attacking was accompanied by Kat pressing her face into Adam's shoulder in feigned terror. For a moment he was confused and he even opened his mouth to ask her what was going on, but he did manage to figure it out. Usually Kat was the one avidly watching the body parts roll and he was the one feeling a bit squeamish, but he sort of enjoyed having her snuggled up against him. He even reached his arm around her, hand lightly rubbing her side as he pulled her a little closer.

Kat didn't even mind the arm of the seat digging into her ribs. Not with the feel of Adam's hand warm on her side, his arm around her back, and the warmth of his chest under her cheek. She still peeked at the gory parts, but she did manage to feign fear and huddle closer each time. She thought it was cute how he sort of puffed up his chest like he was protecting her.

When the movie was over neither really wanted to move, but they separated themselves, feeling a bit awkward as the lights came up and blinking after the dark. They shared shy smiles, and Kat held out her hand to him, smiling a little more brightly when he took it and laced his fingers through hers. It felt like everyone was watching until their hands met and then it didn't matter anymore.

They walked out, absorbed in eachother. Slowly they began to discuss the movie, but it was only half-hearted, nothing compared to their usual arguments about what to do when a zombie attacks and whether chainsaws would work better or grenades.

It was a surprise when they came to the point where their paths diverged. They both lingered, hands shoved in their pockets. Kat bit her lower lip, and looked down her street, then back at Adam.

He mirrored the action, looking down the street he had to take, then back at her. There was a moment of indecision, then he slowly and carefully took her hand and pulled her closer. He was hesitant, giving her every chance to pull away.

But she didn't. She took the step between them, finding herself close to him. It hadn't been a big deal until that time they'd been wrestling while playing video games. Now she could feel her heart pounding, and she was pretty sure she was shaking. But this was Adam. He would never hurt her, ever.

So when he lifted his hand to touch her cheek she smiled nervously and rested her hands on his shoulders. She wasn't quite sure what else to do with them.

Neither was he. But he liked the feel of her palms through his t-shirt, liked the way her eyes drifted shut. And then he oh-so-gently touched his lips to hers.

It was one of those moments that was both momentous and very prosaic. It was, in the end, just a meeting of lips. There was no skill, no understanding of the finer points of a kiss. A simple touching of lips.

And yet. Pulses pounded, sighs escaped, and bodies found themselves leaning closer, pressing together. It wasn't frenzied, it didn't lead to an explosion of passion. Not yet, at least. But it was the perfect end to an idyllic evening. It was the final acknowledgement that things between them were changing, an agreement that they both wanted that.

As first kisses went, it was rather amazing.

And then Kat was pulling away, hurrying down the street. She hadn't realized the time. So all she managed was a breathless, "Bye," as she raced off. She did smile back over her shoulder though, leaving Adam feeling a bit stupefied and quite blissfull as he stumbled home.

Mary took one look at his face when he walked in, looked over at her husband, and winked. Nothing was said, nothing needed to be said. Clearly they had had a nice evening, all had gone well, and Adam was not overly mussed so things hadn't gone too well.

Adam got cleaned up and was rummaging in the fridge standing in his boxers when he heard someone on the front steps. He frowned a little, closing the fridge door and wondering who on earth was showing up so late. The fact that he was in his boxers wasn't registering as he headed towards the front door. His parents had gone upstairs although he could hear them shuffling around and murmuring to eachother.

The pounding on the door was loud and it startled everyone. The cat went racing past, ducking under the sofa in the living room. Adam hurried to the door, unlocking it and yanking it open as his mother started down the stairs, calling to ask if everything was ok.

In the doorway stood Kat. Her hair was tangled, and her mascara and eyeshadow had traced the lines of tears down her cheeks. Adam could see that her arm was red at her wrist and he frowned. That was wrong. She was crying. That was wrong too.

His mother pushed him out of the way, gathering Kat inside and closing the door. The lock was flicked and Mary looked out the window over Kat's head, her jaw clenched in a way Adam only saw when he had done something very, very bad.

"Kat, what's wrong? Are you ok?" Adam was starting to panic, not sure what to do or say. He wasn't used to crying, especially not from Kat, and he felt utterly helpless when he wanted to find whoever had made her cry and bash their brains out.

It was Mary who looked at Kat and smoothed her hair back, shaking her head at Adam. "Go get the extra quilt and pillows. We'll make up a bed on the couch for tonight." Then she looked at Kat and her face softened. "It will be allright. You can stay here. We'll get you cleaned up." Kat just looked up at Mary in gratitude, not trusting her voice. She knew she'd just cry more if she said anything in front of Adam.

She was ashamed, but she also felt safe, or at least safer. She couldn't go home. Not anymore. So she let Mary lead her upstairs, wash her face, clean off the makeup, and find some ice for her wrist which was already painful.

Adam looked at her helplessly for a few minutes when she came down wearing some of his mother's pyjamas - far too big and frilly for Kat, to his mind - but then he just helped her settle onto the couch, then held out his hand to her. She hesitated, and it cut him inside, but she took his hand, swallowing as she looked up at him and waited for him to say something.

"I'll look after you. Nobody else is going to hurt you, not anymore."

He didn't ask for an explanation. He didn't need one, not then. Instead he offered her kleenex and a stuffed wolf that she had seen on his bed one time before he had managed to hide it. She hugged it tight, and offered him a watery smile.

"Thanks."

Kat tilted her head, looking at Adam. She could see in his face the boy he had been that night, the boy who had made her a rash promise that no one could keep. And yet, here with him again, she still felt safe. He had done what she'd needed that night, and had done it again when she burst into his life after all these years. He had, as always, welcomed her home. Where he was would always be home.

"You came through, you know. When I needed you. You always do." She met his eyes the way she hadn't been able to that night.

He took her hand and pulled her close, the way he'd wanted to when he had looked at her wearing his mother's pyjamas. "I'll always be here for you if you need me. No matter what. I'm just glad you came to me."

The End

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