Michael lay on his bed, thinking. The decision he had made was simultaneously both utterly terrifying and strangely liberating. He listened to the sounds elsewhere in the house. He could hear Alistair and Jeffrey going down to the kitchen for supper. Not particularly feeling like facing them at the table, he decided to take a long bath. The hot water eased the tension that still lingered in him.
Afterwards, when he was sure the coast was clear, he crept down to the kitchen. Christine was still in there and she graced him with a smile.
“Is there any supper left?” he asked.
“I saved some for you,” she replied. “Sit down.”
Once he was sat at the table, he looked up at her. “Will you sit with me?”
“If you want me to.”
“I do,” he responded.
She served 2 plates, then sat down beside him. “Thank you for standing up for me,” she said quietly after a moment.
“I couldn’t let Jeffrey speak to you like that.”
She laid a hand over his on the table. “I thought it was very brave of you.”
A long moment passed before they both withdrew their hands. They ate in silence for some minutes. Michael’s mind was whirling, trying to work out a suitable way to articulate his alien feelings.
Swallowing the lump in his throat, he went for what seemed simplest. “Christine, I love you, but I don’t know how.”
As he said it, the words sounded pathetic. She seemed to understand, though.
Laughing slightly, she said, “I love you too, you fool. I can teach you.”
While he was processing this, she reached out and took his hand. He was startled, but quickly calmed himself and laced his fingers with hers. He enjoyed the warm pressure of her hand in his.
“See,” she said, breaking into his thoughts, “you’re already good at this.”
He smiled and they went back to eating. He didn’t want to let go, and apparently neither did she. Their hands remained clasped together all evening while they talked.
Eventually, he had to give in to tiredness.
“I really must go to bed,” he said with a yawn.
“Alright.” She squeezed his hand, then quickly kissed him on the cheek. “Goodnight.”
He knew as he shut the door that hand-holding and kissing would be in his dreams.