She had been home for all of two hours before Patrick came around to see her. He was looking nervous, a strange look for him, but he smiled at her when she came to the door.
“I was wondering if I might take you out tonight. Or tomorrow,” he said, scratching his neck and looking up at her through his lashes. She felt unsure of what to do, kiss him here on the porch or move somewhere less visible, maybe ask him up to her room. Or perhaps just decide a time and take everything then. The decision was taken out of her hands when dad came to the door and glared.
“Get inside, you’re letting the warmth out,” he said, and then went back to baking cookies. Kat smiled at Patrick and moved out of the doorway so he could step inside. They went up to her room and sat down on the bed.
“So,” Kat said. She felt uncomfortable, for reasons she couldn’t explain, and she didn’t like that.
“So, did you have a nice trip?” Patrick asked, apparently as lost as she was.
“Well, yes, it was, you know, a plane. So it was horrible food and loud kids, but it was fine,” she said.
“Oh, right,” he said, looking at the floor. She turned to him at the same time he turned to her, and they bumped into each other slightly. She laughed. He put his hand on her cheek.
“Would it be ok if I kissed you?” he asked, and she didn’t answer, just leaned in to kiss him. It took a while to remember exactly how to tilt her head, but when she did it was good. She had really missed this, being close. There was no way she’d dare do anything more than this with dad in the house, but she wanted to.
They kissed until her dad called for her, soft kisses, not meant to arouse but to affirm, I am here, me too, I like you, I like you too. They decided to hang the next evening, and when Kat fell asleep in her old bed she felt good.
The next day Kat found some time to freak out over what to wear. Until she decided that freaking out was uncool, and just put on whatever she felt comfortable with. It happened to be a pair of dungarees and a hooded sweater you could almost drown in. She even put on some leg warmers, in case they were doing something outside.
Patrick was casual, as always, when he showed up. It was nice. He did look as if he had tried to tame his hair, but had failed in that respect. She put her hands in his hair as she kissed him hello.
“What’s the plan?” she asked when she had let him go. He raised an eyebrow and she smacked him rather hard on the arm.
“I thought we’d go see a band,” he said. “Some friends of mine are playing.” She looked a bit sceptical. “You’ll like them.”
“Ok, lead the way then, Mr Verona,” she said and held out her arm to him.
“Don’t mind if I do, Miss Stratford,” he said and took her arm.
The band was actually pretty good, and they danced for a while, behaved as good law-abiding citizens and drank sodas, before they snuck off into a corner and drank something truly disgusting from Patrick’s pocket flask. Then there was more dancing, and some making out, and Kat felt like this was it. She wanted to take Patrick home and do unspeakable things to him. Or at least things she wouldn’t tell her dad about. She couldn’t, however, not today, but her Christmas vacation was long enough. Or at least she hoped so.
When Patrick dropped her off at home her lips were swollen, dark red, and she didn’t want to let him go, but she had to, eventually. He looked good enough to eat, and Kat couldn’t resist one last kiss, dragged her hands through his messy hair to direct him where she wanted him to go.
When she’d gotten inside Bianca was smirking at her, and dad was looking a bit like he wanted to say something about pregnancies, but thankfully both of them actually kept quiet.
She spent the next few days helping dad clean the house and putting up Christmas decorations. Not that he actually needed the help, but she wanted to give him time and opportunity to say all those things he wanted to say. To her surprise he didn’t tell her about condoms, or the pill, or teen pregnancies. When she finally asked he said he’d decided to trust her. This made her unexpectedly teary eyed, and she hugged him tight. He patted her on the back a bit awkwardly, and when they separated he looked the other way while she dried her tears, and they never spoke about it again. It was an arrangement that suited both of them.
Bianca was absent a lot of the time, hanging with her friends or with Cameron. It was going well, apparently, which was good. Cameron was impressed by Bianca, as he should be, and scared enough of both her and dad that he wouldn’t try anything funny. Not that Bianca would let him get away with it. Or at least Kat hoped she wouldn’t.
Mandella came around and they lay on Kat’s bed and talked about things, important things, like literature, music, classes at college, and boys. Mandella had dumped William after a while, claiming he was too boring (but maybe it was the fact that his name was Michael, not William), but they were still seeing each other. It was complicated, and Kat had tried to understand it, but she’d given up long ago. It was nice to be home, be around people who had known her longer than just a semester, even if she did miss some of her new friends. Especially her room mate, Cecily, who was taking LGBT studies. They stayed up late at night discussing feminist theory and what was wrong with the world. But Mandella was interesting too, even if her view on what was wrong with the world had a distinct... Shakespearean flavor.
On boxing day she goes home to Patrick. They had decided not to give any gifts, but she still gives him a CD of a band she’d seen in NY, and he gives her a leather bracelet with small studs. They lie on the floor of his living room, just talking, touching, kissing, and maybe they will, later, and maybe they won’t. In this moment it doesn’t even matter.