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by the pauses and silences

Chapter Text



“Stupid Kelley, stupid test, stupid blind date,” Christen mutters as she pulls the tiny black dress that Kelley managed to stuff her in. She looks around the small restaurant trying to find said date. “Stupid friends.”


Several of the tables were filled, a couple by the window looking rather intimate and a family in a booth, eating and chatting amongst themselves. Two tables had just a singular person seated, one was already reading the menu, but the other one did not look like the person that Kelley had described.


Christen strides up to the hostess behind her podium, giving her the friendliest smile she can muster under her bad mood. “I have a reservation.”


“Name, please?”


“Kelley O’Hara.”


Christen waits a moment as the hostess scans her list. She looks over her shoulder again hoping her stupid blind date shows up, but there was no one walking in or loitering in the front of the restaurant.


‘It looks like you’re the first one in your party,” the hostess informs her as she grabs a couple of menus, motioning for Christen to follow her.


Christen obediently follows the hostess, taking the time to examine the restaurant that Kelley deemed an appropriate place to set her friend up at. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but it was definitely a step up from an Olive Garden that her last date unfortunately took her to.


The place was right on the border of being cramped and cozy, the low hanging lights and the beige undertone of the booths definitely carefully leans it away from the cramped side.


The hostess seats her next to one of the single patrons that Christen had previously spotted, the menu was no longer hiding their face. Christen can see that she had a fairly beautiful face (or side face?), a sharp jawline and her light brown hair was pulled up into a low ponytail

Once the hostess left and her waiter came by to take her drink order, Christen was able to relax and lean back against the booth. She fiddles with the ring on her finger, taking it off, spinning it, and putting it on again, as she waits for her date.


She glances around the restaurant, her eyes having adjusted to the dim lights. She’s gotta hand it to Kelley, she really knows how to pick a good date restaurant. The restaurant was as un-intimidating as possible with such a relaxed vibe that Christen thought being there wasn’t so bad.


“Blind date?”


The voice startled her a bit and she turns to the woman to her right. Usually Christen doesn’t like talking to strangers, preferring to not to engage and pretend to not hear them (a dick move, she knows), but the earnest look that the woman is giving her had Christen smiling and nodding.


“Yeah my friend set us up,” Christen says. “She says I needed to get out and stop looking at animal dicks.”


The woman looks alarmed and taken aback, making Christen hurriedly explain that she’s an aspiring vet and was currently learning about the reproduction of common domesticated animals, pets and farm animals alike.


“That’s pretty cool dude!” The woman exclaims, really looking like she meant it and not just as something one would say.


She asks all the right questions keeping Christen talking animatedly and actually engaged in the conversation, something that Christen usually suffers at (not usually at fault of the other party but just because she was usually just so tired). Until the woman’s date appeared and had to apologize to Christen as she had to go.


Christen nods, waving off her concerns she can clearly see that her date was walking towards her, a handsome young man with a sharp jawline and brown almost black hair. Christen didn’t know why but for some reason, she didn’t really expect that to be her type. They would make a good couple, Christen muses.


She watches the woman and man idly at the corner of her eye while she waits for her date. She was a little early to the excursion so she didn’t fault him for not arriving shortly after she did. She tries not to look at her watch, knowing that it would make the perceived time slower.


She plays with the water, sipping it occasionally, but mostly keeping herself entertained as she waited.


And waited.


And waited.


At her third glance at her watch, she accidentally caught the woman’s worried eyes. She seemed to be having a good time with her date. They were well into their food.  Christen looks away and down to her drink, her chest was tightening and she can feel her breathing getting shallow. She tightens her grip on the glass of her water to try and tamp down the anxiety climbing up her throat.


She should’ve known with her bad luck today that she was going to get stood up. It was like the universe conspired to ram her with the worst possible day. She glances at her watch and sees that it's about 15 minutes until the next hour. Even though every fiber of her tells her to just leave and have a good cry, she makes a deal with herself.


She’ll ride out the next 15 minutes.


Then she’ll call Kelley and chew her out for setting her up with a goddamn flake.


“Hey, you okay?”


She looks up startled for the second time that night. Christen must’ve been watching her straw make patterns in the water as she stirs for too long as she didn’t hear the woman next to her sit up and sidle up to the seat in front of her.


She glances at the previously occupied table to see the woman’s date was gone. Quick glance at the front and she sees said date passing in front of the glass window. He didn’t look sad nor angry.


A light touch to her hand that’s been gripping the glass of water brings her focus back to the woman in front of her.


“Are you okay?” She asks again, kind eyes boring into hers.


“I’m-” Christen pauses, the word fine at the tip of her tongue. She can still feel the anxiousness settling into her bones, the grip on the glass of the water and the way her right leg ache as she tenses as to not shake the table. If it was any other day she would’ve just shaken this off, but it wasn’t any other day.


She smiles at Christen, closed-lip, putting her hand on the top of the table, palm down. She recognizes the tactics. It’s usually the same one she uses to not scare an animal (look relax, do not smile with teeth, and make sure they can see your hands).


“Hey, screw the guy, huh?” she says as she slowly reaches forward and when it looked like Christen wasn’t pulling away, she puts a hand on top of Christen’s hand that had a death grip on her glass. “He’s a fucking jerk for standing you up.” The woman looks around the small shop and tugs on Christen’s hand. “C’mon, let’s get out of here.”


Christen raises an eyebrow at her, the rest of her tension melting away as she realized what was going on. “Are you really trying to pick me up after you’re date?”


Her grin grows wider. “You wish I was trying to pick you up.”


“You literally had a date a couple of minutes ago.”


“Dude, you just got stood up,” She points out, not unkindly more like stating the facts. “You need an ice cream and a strong drink.”


“I don’t even know your name,” Christen says, though by the way the waitstaff had been looking at her with pity in her eyes, she wanted to just go with this stranger (despite not knowing if she was an axe murderer or not).


She holds out her hand to Christen, patient and waiting, letting her have the option to back out or not. “Tobin Heath.”


Christen stares at it for a second, weighing her options. She really didn’t have anything to lose and if she dies, at least she dies in the hands of a pretty woman. She takes her hand, giving her a small smile letting Tobin tugs her out of the seat. “Christen Press.”