CalebMature

"Guys, guys...I love the both of you, but can you stop staring into each others' eyes? I'm feeling kinda left out here." Hailey heaves a dramatic sigh from her spot on the kitchen counter. "Besides, I'm still hungry, Callie."

Dante scowls at her over my shoulder, narrowed eyes giving some silent warning.

I don't have to turn to look at Hailey to know she's sticking her tongue out at him. "Okay, okay, I'm coming. What about the movie? I thought you said you were going to start it without me." I stand, reluctantly.

"Yeah but then I decided you guys are way more interesting to watch." She grins, sliding down the counter and brushing past me into the living room again. "I'll go get it started now,"

I pull on my oven mittens, glancing at Dante while I walk over to the stove. He's still sitting, watching me wordlessly while I open the oven and take the lasagna out to cool on the kitchen counter. "Are you...um," I blink down at the pan. How do you ask a guy like Dante if he's lactose intolerant? I can hardly imagine that a big, tough guy like him is unable to eat cheese. But, well...anything is possible... "You're not--"

"I like cheese, yes," He states, amused. "I'm not allergic."

My face flushes, and, hoping to cover up my embarrassment, I jokingly reply, "Well, sorry for asking. I was just wondering, since, you know, we kind of invited you to a seafood restaurant when you don't even like fish. Might as well try to make up for it this time."

"I made do," He smugly points out, grinning cheekily at me as he rises to pace to my side.

Heart stumbling in the blind run around my rib cage, I look back at the lasagna, focusing instead on pulling off the aluminum foil to reveal the melted cheese and pasta below. My thoughts have jumbled up with one look at his smile--he really should do that more often. Kind of. Maybe just a little. He really could gain some friends that way... "I hope this is good enough for you then, Mr. I-eat-my-steaks-medium-rare." I retort, opening the utensils drawer next to the sink to dig out a butter knife. Dante inches closer, peering around my shoulder (which isn't very difficult, thanks to our height difference) at the pan in front of me.

"It certainly looks good," He tilts his head, "Although, I've never tried lasagna before, honestly."

I wheel back from him in surprise, feigning utter shock. "You've never had lasagna?!" My little moment of impulsive playfulness is completely worth it for the look of confusion on Dante's face.

He blinks at me, baffled, steel eyes wide, finger half crooked where he must've been about to point something out. I can't help the laugh that bubbles out of my mouth--the puzzled expression he's wearing is just too cute and out of the ordinary! "Oh, I'm sorry, I just--ahaha, the look on your face!" I guffaw, barely remembering to tuck the butter knife down under my arm so I don't poke myself with it.

Then, the laughter dies in my throat, almost as soon as Dante's face seems to fall, darkening with an emotion I haven't seen before--oh crap, I just laughed at Dante!

What kind of person am I, forgetting that Dante has been pushing people away for a little over two years now? I've probably offended him by being so hardheaded and flippant with his curiosity over a simple food he hasn't had the chance to try yet, considering he has to work between both school and a job to support himself and oh, damn, this is bad--

But then the corners of his lips curl up, and he's grinning again, a deep, warm rumbling chuckle meeting my ears. It reminds me, somehow, of the first damp rolls of thunder before a promising storm. And, oh, how I love the rain that follows... He rubs the bridge of his nose bashfully, shaking his head. "I thought I did something horribly wrong for a second there," He laughs, half dubiously, half amused.

Relieved that he isn't offended, I exhale silently, then grin wearily at him. "Well, lasagna is really good, believe it or not, even for my cooking. It's supposedly one of Hailey's--"

"Guys, hurry up! We're not getting any younger!" Comes her cry, as if on cue.

"--favorite dishes, too." I finish, waving the butter knife carefully in her direction to disguise the trembling in my hand. I swear, Dante can make me a little too...excited, I guess. "Speak of the pink haired devil."

He gives another small bark of a laugh, crossing his arms as he props himself up against the counter, in front of the kitchen sink. "Caleb, you are just..."

I bite my lower lip, then smile at him, scooting back to the lasagna pan to cut it into slices with the butter knife still shaky in my hands. "I'm just what? Silly? It must be the apple juice I drank before you got here. Hailey says I have a tendency to get hyper off it." Or maybe you make me a little nervous and I'm practically jumping around in my skin because I want to hug you or because you just laughed and it's the first time I've ever heard something so amazingly beautiful. "Would you mind handing me the plates by the microwave?" I add, instead, pointing towards the silver box on the far side of the counter as I put the butter knife in the sink.

"You're so open and...you share your emotions. I'm...not used to it, but I think I'm liking it so far." Dante's brow furrows, suddenly, as if he wants to ask something, but then he closes his lips and gives me the stack of plates. "By the way, what movie are we watching? All you said is that you think I'll like it."

Using a fork to slide a cut of lasagna onto his plate, I beam at him. "We're going to watch The Avengers."

The answering expression of blankness on his face assures me that he's never even heard of the movie. I quickly serve lasagna to both Hailey and myself, grabbing some forks and napkins. "You, living room, couch, now. You're going to love this." I say, tugging Dante with me towards where Hailey and her impatientness await.

"I believe you," Dante chuckles, softly.

The End

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