Clint’s staring at the many, many, forks as if they’re something unpleasant he found on the bottom of his shoe. He picks one up, something tiny and which might actually be a spoon, he can’t tell, and scowls at it.
“What are you even supposed to do with a spoon this small? Eat one rice crispie at a time? Is this a dieting thing?”
Kate kicks him under the table. He drops the spoon-fork (spork?) and glares at her, rubbing his shin.
“It’s a winkle-fork. Please be normal.”
“I am normal! Who the hell knows what a – wait, did you really say winkle-fork?” He starts to smirk.
Kate drops her head into her hands. “Are you seriously laughing at the word ‘winkle’?”
“No!” Clint manages to sound indignant for all of two seconds before he picks up the fork again and giggles at it. “I’m laughing because it’s so small.”
“Oh my god.”
“You know whoever invented this wasn’t compensating for anything.”
“You are five years old, I swear to God.”
“Is that why it’s such a funny shape? Because buddy, that is not healthy.”
“It is for eating winkles! As in tiny sea snails!”
Clint drops it as if it suddenly sprouted legs. He looks at her in horror. “Snails? Actual slimy lives-in-a-shell snails?” He shakes his head in bewilderment. “You rich folk must really hate yourselves, you know that?”
“You know you’re one of us now right?”
Clint looks around at Susan Bishops dining room. It’s as big as his whole apartment. Everything is in shades of cream and gold, even the Christmas tree in the corner. There’s a chandelier above his head and a tuxedoed butler by the door. He looks back at Kate.
She sighs and picks up her champagne. “Yeah, I guess not.” She downs it in one and Clint immediately feels awful.
He reaches across the table (why is it so big, there’s only going to be four of them?) and slides his hand over hers. She frowns for a moment before curling her fingers under his.
He squeezes her hand before saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be a jerk. I know this is important to you. I’ll make an effort, I promise.”
Her frown softens and she smiles, just slightly. His heart beats a little harder at the sight of it. “It’s not important to me, not all this anyway.” She waves at the room with her free hand. “But my sister is, and I know this will make her happy, to play happy families.” There’s only the hint of bitterness in her voice, but Clint can hear all the things she’s not saying, can see the way her shoulders have been tensed all evening, bow-ready. He knows that Kate hates this lifestyle more than he does, hates the way her sister brings up memories that hurt to face.
He squeezes her hand. “I know.” He says.
And for a moment something flickers across her face and he thinks that maybe, just maybe, she gets it. Maybe she knows.
“Who’s ready for more champagne?” Susan skips through the door, a bottle in each hand.
Kate drops his hand instantly, slipping hers safely under the table. Clint’s fingers linger on the tablecloth a moment longer before he pulls back.
“Did I interrupt something?” Susan’s looking between them disapprovingly.
“No.” Kate plasters on a smile but it doesn’t light up her face the way Clint knows it should. “I’d like some more champagne. Builds up an appetite for dinner.” She holds out her empty glass and the butler immediately moves to fill it.
“Thomas will be through in a moment.” Susan says, sitting down next to Kate. “Business call, you know how it is.”
She begins talking to Kate, about horses and riding school, or something that Clint isn’t listening to because it’s clearly not meant for him and he’s too busy watching Kate. She nods and smiles and asks questions but her shoulders are too high, too tight.
Very slowly, Clint moves to the edge of his chair, reaching out under the table. He’s watching her carefully when his leg touches hers, so he sees the tiny jump she makes. He starts to move his leg against hers, a gentle soothing pressure. She shifts so her leg is pressing harder, more solidly against his. Her shoulders relax.
The very corner of her lips turn upwards and this time it touches her eyes.