Actions

Work Header

a girl who will never be a nun (and a man who will make sure of it).

Chapter Text

To: Mother (10/9/2016, 01:02)
i didn't *mean* to do it

Mother (10/9/2016, 01:03)
Didn't mean to punch a man because he was too tall?

To: Mother (10/9/2016, 01:03)
...
i'm leaving, mother.

Mother (10/9/2016, 01:05)
Stay safe! It's a long ride back to Boston. God bless you :-*

She puts her phone away and sighs heavily as she looks up, waiting her bus with an impatience that doesn't suit her frame but very much suits her personality. She tugs her too-big hoodie down and pulls the hood over her head, double checking that her ear buds are properly in her ears before she turns up her music, Panic! At the Disco blasting away as the bus pulls up in front of her. She picks up her bag and takes the steps up onto the bus, nodding towards the driver before making her way to the back. There's only one seat left, and she takes it without thinking about it.

"Sorry," she mumbles, after the bus jolts and she finds herself falling into a stranger's lap. He grunts in pain.

"Good God." She hears him say, tenor voice gruff in a way that doesn't exactly suit it, "first my nose gets broken, and now my ribs get elbowed." She blinks twice, once to clear her vision and again to double check that she's not seeing things. His eyes widen in surprise as he helps her get situated next to him, and for a while, neither of them speak.

"Um," she begins, fiddling with the strings of her hoodie nervously. "Hi. I'm -well- I'm that girl who punched you back at that concert. Sorry. About that. By the way. Actually, you probably know who I am; I did punch you. My real name is Maria, by the way. Maria Abess. Anyway, I'm really sorry I punched you. I didn't mean to break your nose."

"Yeah," he nods carefully, straightening his jacket and clearing his throat with a strained politeness. "I figured."

A pregnant pause blooms, before Maria says, "what's your name?"

He clears his throat again, before saying, "Georg. Georg von Trapp." She snorts, her entire body jerking forward violently, and Georg eyes her with judgement. "What's so funny?"

"Your-" Maria gasps for breath, "-your name is Georg. You're like a nineteen-thirties Naval officer."

"Actually," Georg begins, "my friends call me captain." This just warrants another laugh from Maria, and Georg, who has lost patience for the girl who punched and broke his nose, gingerly touches his bandaged nose as he says. "Yeah. Anyway. It was nice to meet you. I'm going to listen to music now."

"Does it hurt?" Maria asks, and Georg bites back a groan. "Your nose, I mean. It's broke pretty bad. Didn't know I had that in me."

"People do strange things in concerts." Georg tiredly tells her, pulling out his phone and typing in his password. He's got ten texts. This cannot be good.

"Yes, I suppose they do." Maria agrees, also pulling out her own phone. Her mouth, for some odd reason, won't stop running. "So you like All Time Low, huh?"

Without really thinking about his response, Georg replies, "no, I bought a hundred-dollar ticket because I hate them. And I love being punched in the nose for being too tall, as well."

"You were making out right in front of me!" Maria says, angrily.

"No," Georg says, losing his patience; He hasn't even been able to read his texts yet. "That was the people next to me. I was innocently standing there, listening to All Time Low on my first day off in weeks. Weeks, Ms. Abess."

Maria's jaw drops. She closes it before opening it again, and eventually just angrily sinks into her seat and pulls out her phone, opening Snapchat to check out peoples' updated stories. They sit in silence until she sees Georg shift out of the corner of her eye, sees the angry look in his eyes as he stares at his texts. "I really am sorry." Her voice is gentler, and she reaches out to touch his before recoiling; She barely knows this man, after all. Black belt in karate or not, she'd rather avoid strange incidents than cause them. "I didn't mean to upset you. I didn't mean to break your nose, ruin your first day off, and annoy you on the bus ride home. Really."

She bites her lip, waiting for his response, staring up at him with puppy dog eyes and red cheeks. He turns, finally, looking at her, deep eyes searching. It startles the both of them, the feeling that comes from staring into a stranger's eyes, but he nods slowly, a smile ghosting his lips. "I believe you." He sucks in a giant breath. "I forgive you."

Maria beams at him.

"Thank you, captain."


They talk for the next hour, but Maria notices that Georg keeps glancing down at his phone with a pained expression on his face. Eventually, her curiosity gets ahold of her, and she finds herself asking, "who's got you all hot and bothered?"

"You." The answer is immediate, and he almost regrets his decision to be cheeky when he sees her blush in the darkness, sees her pull her hood further over her face. "That was a joke, Maria."

(She feels strangely disappointed, but shakes her head to clear the embarrassment that's overcome her.) "Well?" She asks again.

"I broke up with my girlfriend last week," Georg explains. "She's texting me." He shows her his latest messages, where the contact name says "Elsa". She's texted him a picture of herself with a very lewd caption.

"Good God above," Maria gasps, fanning herself.

"For a girl who just went to a rock concert, you're pretty jumpy." Georg notes with amusement.

"Well, captain," Maria begins. "For a guy who's around six foot one, you sure get brought down easy."

His eyebrows shoot up, "choose your next words very carefully."

A sly grin spreads across Maria's face, and she says, "I'm adding this to The List."

"The List?" Georg asks, even though he knows he'll probably regret knowing.

Maria nods, "The List. Things I think about when I'm upset." She gingerly touches his floppy nose, and he jumps. "Strong six-foot-something boys who get their noses broken by five-foot-eight girls. This is going in the list."

"Ah." Georg nudges her, "well, lemme tell you, you've got a fantastic right hook."

She laughs, "thanks, captain." She pretends to peak at his phone, feigns offense when he pushes her away. "What are you gonna respond with?"

"I'm not going to respond." Georg blows his hair out of his face. "She doesn't deserve it."

"Ohh," Maria grimaces, "that can't be good. I thought you dumper her?"

He nods, fidgeting with the ring hanging around his neck on a chain. It's silver, and she wonders what its significance is. "I did." When Maria just stares at him, waiting, he half-glares at her before crossing his arms and blowing the hair out of his eyes. "But that doesn't mean she didn't deserve it." Maria continues to stare, and Georg finds himself staring down at his phone again, finds his mouth opening of its own accord. "I've got kids."

The bus jumps as it hits an unexpected pothole, and Maria does the same. "H-how many?"

Georg releases the ring, letting it hit his chest and get covered up by his jacket. "Seven. Two boys, five girls."

"Was Elsa their mother?"

"God, no!" Georg exclaims, "no, no. Their mom didn't believe in marriage, so we moved in together when we turned nineteen. She... passed away when we were thirty-three, around four years ago, though." Maria's eyes go large, and she's about to speak when Georg continues, "I met Elsa through a friend. She's really beautiful, and she was great until she met the kids."

"Then it all went to hell?" Maria guesses.

Georg nods. "It all went to hell."

Maria reaches out and grabs his phone, so quick he doesn't really register what's happened until she's typing furiously and hitting send. "There." She grins up at him, all sly as she hands back his phone. "She won't bother you again, captain." He takes the phone and stares down at the text Maria's sent. A slow smile spreads across his face until he's laughing hard and resting his forehead on her shoulder. He looks up and stares at her real close, her cheeks reddening again. "What is it?" Maria asks, a little breathless.

He shakes his head, "nothing, captain." His eyes widen upon his mistake, and hers widen as well.

She stares at him.

(He stares back.)


Somewhere along the way, she falls asleep, and her head comes to rest on his shoulder. He lets it rest there, listens to her breathing and the music that flows from her phone to his ear (they're sharing ear buds), and thinks that for the first time since his wife died, he can be away from his children and semi-at peace (there is, as a parent, forever a sort-of nagging worry at the back of his head when he isn't with them. It's eternal, and comes from the love he has for them as their father).

But you don't even know her, the voice in his head whispers.

I'd like to, though. He whispers back.

She broke your nose!

I'd like to give her a chance to maybe break my heart, he argues back. The voice goes quiet, and he watches cars whiz past at two fifty in the morning until the bus stops and he realizes this is where he gets off. He moves to wake up Maria, but thinks against it, instead letting her rest against the windowpane as he gets up slowly.

He's half way off the bus when he turns around.


When Maria wakes up, it's because the last stop is in Boston, and the bus driver has to shake her awake. She groggily shakes her head, remembers having the strangest dream involving breaking a handsome man's nose and then befriending him. It must have been a dream, though, because there is no man next to her when she awakens.

She reaches for her phone, which is in the seat next to her, and stares at it in surprise. There's a sticky note attached to it.

Georg von Trapp
512.788.8788

Three simple words written underneath it, and Maria beams as she reads them.

Call me, captain.

(Needless to say, she does.)

Chapter Text

"Hey," the voice says, and he's halfway to the gun that sits in the drawer by his bedside table when it speaks again: "it's me."

Georg blinks, trying to think of who it could be, and then he switches on his bedside lamp, flooding the room in a canned light. It's only then that he sees her, perched on his windowsill, one leg resting on his floor and the other one dangling out, looking strangely comfortable in her position. "Abess," he hisses, and she smirks at him through the tinny light.

"von Trapp," Abess counters, and Georg rolls his eyes at her.

"Close the window and come in or close the window and go back to your place."

"Bossy, are we?"

"You are; I think you're rubbing off on me."

Her smirk widens, but she listens, swinging her left leg dangerously over the window and closing it behind her. "So, Georg, how're you sleeping?" She begins, collapsing on his bed with a muffled thud.

"I was sleeping fine before I met you, that's for sure." Georg mutters, but then he smiles sleepily at her and says, "what are you doing here, Maria?"

"Elsa and Max are doing it again."

His hands come up to covers his eyes and he groans loudly, "you didn't have to tell me that."

"I wanted someone to share my pain."

He snorts, and Maria smiles. "Consider your pain shared."

"Who knew, huh?" Maria asks Georg as she rolls over onto her back and pulls out her phone, flooding her face in a blue light as she does so.

"Finish your sentences, Maria, for the love of God."

"Don't use God's name in vain."

"Don't tell me what to do."

"You make it too easy."

He bites back a laugh, too tired to fight back and too in love with her (not that she knows this) to be annoyed. "I just meant," Maria continues, opening some app on her phone, "who knew that uni would be like this, huh?"

"You're talking, little miss double major."

"You're not so bad yourself, and you know it, von Trapp."

"I'm not going for a Theology major and a Music major. I think you're insane."

"Thank you, I've been trying hard to get people to notice for years but for some reason they brush me off."

This time Georg really does laugh, and Maria laughs with him until the only sound in the room is their chuckles, which eventually die off into sighs. "Is it hard, G.?" Maria asks, calling Georg by the uni named he'd earned upon arriving at the school ("Georg is too odd a name for us, we'll just call you G., or von Trapp."). "You know, leaving the navy and then coming back to school."

"I guess for some it can be," Georg sits up in his bed, reaching for his own phone to check the time. Two in the morning. How courteous of Maria, Max, and Elsa. "But I'm pretty smart."

"Oh, I had no idea, sir law major."

"Don't make fun, Maria, it's not virtuous."

"Don't make fun, Maria, it's not virtuous."

"Mimicking isn't that good for you, either."

She sticks out her tongue at him, before clambering to her feet and off the bed, hiking towards his closet.

"What are you doing?" Georg asks in mild concern, watching her figure look at his clothes critically. She's clad in baggy sweat pants and a thin, loose short-sleeved shirt, and so when she comes back with one of Georg's hoodies, it doesn't really come as a shock to him that she's cold. "You've already stolen, like, half my sweatshirts and hoods, Maria."

"Is that an invitation to just take them all?"

"You're ridiculous."

"Free clothes, G., is not ever ridiculous." Maria chides him, clambering back onto the bed and sitting next to him. "Are you hungry?" Maria asks him as she absentmindedly plays with the strings of the hood.

"Not particularly," Georg responds, grabbing the remote and turning on the t.v., before he hands the remote to Maria. "Why?"

"I ordered Indian to be delivered here."

Georg blinks. "Indian?"

"I was in a mood."

He smiles, watching her flip through the channels until there comes a knock on his door. He gets up and runs to the front door so as not to keep the tired and cranky delivery guy waiting, and once he's tipped the poor fellow, Georg returns to his room to find that Maria has already gotten them some drinks and silverware. A movie is playing on the t.v., and as he sits down Maria informs him it's called Roman Holiday. "Have you ever seen it?" Maria asks Georg. He shakes his head. "For shame," Maria responds, "now watch."

The room settles into a quiet atmosphere, both of them content and eating, Maria only half-invested in the movie (she's seen it so many times, really) and Georg finding it hard to tear his eyes away from the screen. Maria knows his weakness when it comes to movies; older movies are his Achilles Heel. Maria gets up halfway through and throws their food away; when she comes back she sprawls herself on top of his bed, curled up on her side, watching the movie through half-lidded eyes. And somewhere along the way her notice shifts from a young princess and the love of her life to an almost out of place naval officer studying law in uni. And this is how she falls asleep: with his face imprinted in her gaze, unknowingly in love with a man who knowingly loves her back.

In the morning, Maria wakes up in a warm bed with blankets covering her, a hoodie that smells suspiciously like her friend Georg von Trapp embracing her skin. The bed is empty save for herself, but when she rolls over, she finds that her hand is hanging off the bed and is warm. And that's where she finds Georg, asleep on the floor, his hand reaching for hers, and in the morning light, Maria Abess comes to the conclusion that she loves him.

So she says it, quietly and calmly, not expecting a response. Whispers it to the man asleep on the floor below her. "I love you."

A beat passes.

Georg's head lifts, much to her surprise, and his eyes open until they meet hers. A small smile rests upon his features, and she finds herself matching his look of adoration and joy as he says, "I love you."

And, with that knowledge, they go back to sleep.

Chapter Text

The 1980s are loud and chaotic and a little worrying, and so Georg thinks it suiting that he meets her in this same fashion.

The daylight is blinding as he steps out onto the London street, crowds bustling around him, words of profanity and strange insults reaching his ears as he ducks his head to try and ignore the frankly annoying volume of noise and surge of people who fall into step behind him. Newspaper stands line the sidewalk, bearing headlines like Thatcher: Terrified or Totally Confident? and Pope John Paul II's Secret!, and lastly, President Ronald Reagan - The Evils of Communism.

It's while he's scanning this headlines that she collides into him, and they both go flying to the floor, people squeaking as they step aside to avoid them but not to help.

"Jesus Christ!" Georg exclaims as he tries to sit up only to find that he can't because of a very surprising weight keeping him down. All he can see is a head of blonde hair, and then suddenly the head moves, sitting up so he can see the face that belongs to it, and he goes quiet. Blue eyes frame a pale face and when she stands and clears her throat he sees cute shorts and a tucked in graphic t-shirt that reads Be Not Afraid with a picture of John Paul II plastered on it. Catholic, then. Or a fan. And, judging from the blush on her cheeks, Catholic (or a fan) and embarrassed. There's also a monstrously giant tote bag on her arm.

"I am so sorry," the girl says, and then she's off, talking rapid fire and rambling so much that all Georg can do is nod vaguely and pretend he's keeping up. Eventually, it becomes clear that the flow of her speech is never-ending, so he cuts in-

"-I'm sorry, too."

That shuts her up, and she looks at him surprised, as if no one's ever apologized to her in her entire life. Odd.

"I wasn't watching where I was going," Georg elaborates, "my fault..."

She waits, thinking he's going to continue. Georg bites his tongue, the sarcastic comment dying on his lips at the fact that he was most obviously waiting for her to say her name. "I'm Georg, by the way," he extends a hand. "Georg von Trapp."

"Oh!" the girl extends her hand as well, and she shakes his firmly and with a little too much enthusiasm. He can't bite back the smile this time. "I'm Maria Abess. Sorry about running into you; I was trying to catch Mother Teresa. I've probably lost her now, though..."

This piques Georg's interest. "Mother Teresa? As in, the Mother Teresa?"

Maria grins, "the one and only."

"Jesus Christ; no way, she's not here, is she?"

"She is!" Maria nods, "I was heading up to where she was set to be, but now I've probably missed her... and I'm too short to see over the crowd and check. That's why everyone heading the opposite direction of you, see?"

"Oh my God," Georg says, "this is so cool."

"Do you want to come with me and see if we can still catch her?" Maria asks him, lifting a brow.

Georg hesitates. And then he nods.

Just like that, Maria is off, walking far faster than he thought she should be able to walk (she's short, alright?) and then an idea strikes him, and he calls out, "Maria! Good Lord; Abess!"

Spinning around, Maria taps her foot impatiently, and when he arrives by her side, she asks, "yeah?"

"Climb on my shoulders."

She does a double take. "Excuse me?"

"You know," Georg shrugs, "so you can see over the crowd and tell me where to go."

Her eyes widen in realization and she says, "whoa, good idea, George!"

"Georg."

"That's what I said."

"No," Georg shakes his head, "no, it's G-" he sighs, "you know what, never mind. Just get on." He squats awkwardly and feels her clamber up (much more gracefully than he would've thought able) his back and onto his shoulders, he grabs her ankles firmly and feels her legs tighten around his neck. This is going to be wild. "See anything?"

"No... Oh!" Maria exclaims, excited, as Georg begins to speed walk, dutifully ignoring the looks the Londoners are giving them.

"For God's sake, Maria, spit it out."

"You know," Maria says, thoughtful, "you should probably stop using God's name in vain, considering we're about to meet a future saint."

"She's already a saint."

"Can't be a canonized saint unless you're dead."

"Who made that rule?"

"The Church."

"... Oh."

He goes silent, incensed that Maria's known him for only five minutes and she's already scolding his language. Even if she's right.

"I see her!" Maria exclaims, jostling him. The tote bag hits him hard in the face before she pulls it away and back from him, "but there's such a long line... oh..."

"Come on, don't give up, Abess, have a little more nerve."

"Don't test my nerve, George; I promise you I'll surprise you."

"It's-" Georg sighs again. Gives up. He jogs lightly up to what seems to be the end of a line (there's people shouting at him to get in the single-file line, so he's guessing this is where it starts). "We've made it."

"I'm nervous."

"Why?"

"Why?" Maria asks, "did you seriously just ask me why I'm nervous about meeting Mother Teresa?"

"... yes, but now I'm afraid to know."

"George, she's Mother Teresa!"

"Alright, alright," Georg briefly lets go of her ankles, forgetting his job in want of putting his hands up before quickly grabbing onto her again. "I got it, you can calm down now."

"Why do you want to meet her, anyway?" Maria raises a brow.

He stumbles.

Shrugging, he feels Maria jump at the motion when he says, "I don't know. I'm Catholic, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Yeah."

"Geez, George, I know atheists who are more enthusiastic about meeting Mother Teresa than you."

"That's insulting!"

"Newflash: it was meant to be."

He snorts, not really angry (she's too much fun to be angry at forever). "I guess you're right, though."

"Once you meet her you'll probably be so happy and shocked you'll faint."

"I will not-"

"Oh my gosh! She's looking at us!"

"What?" He moves abruptly and Maria yelps.

"Mother Teresa! She was looking at us! She made eye contact with me!"

"Wait, how close are we to the front?"

"A little less than halfway."

"How's that possible?" Georg's brows furrow as he thinks, "we've only been standing here for, what, five minutes?"

"Twenty."

He starts. "You're lying to me."

Maria bends her head down so that she's looking into Georg's eyes and says, "nope." She shows him her wrist, a watch wrapped around it, displaying the time.

"How's it possible? It hasn't felt at all like twenty minutes."

"I'm magic," Maria shrugs, and he rolls his eyes.

"You're insufferable."

She scoffs, "watch your mouth, George, I've got my legs wrapped around your throat!" Before he can retort, she pinches him and says, "oh my gosh, she looked at me again, put me down put me down put me down!"

Georg obeys, and when Maria's landed solidly on her own two feet, he rubs his neck, "my neck is sore."

"Sounds like a you problem," Maria drawls, smirking at him, "not a me problem."

He mutters something that sounds suspiciously like "annoying and i've only known her forty minutes" under his breath, but Maria ignores him. Raising on his tiptoes and craning his neck, he can see that Maria is, indeed, right: they're now within earshot of Mother Teresa. He feels himself get nervous and begins to bounce on his toes, Maria glancing at him in amusement. "Calm down," she says, even though she's also shaking in anticipation.

"After you, m'lady," he quips, and she sticks her tongue out at him, but he doesn't miss the light blush that appears on her cheeks. He smirks to himself.

The line moves again, and a large family hurries forward. Now there's only two people between them and Mother Teresa. "What are you going to say?" Abess asks him, running a hand through her hair. "To Mother Teresa, I mean."

"I knew what you meant," Georg assures. "And, I don't know. Hi, probably. Pray for me, too. Pray for my family, for my friends. Maybe. What about you?"

Maria grins, a radiant smile that surprises him. "I'm gonna give her a hug and tell her I'm praying for her, and ask her to continue praying for all of us, too."

He raises an eyebrow, but says nothing, though the thought he has inside him is, that's it?

The line moves. One group between them, now. They can hear her voice. Georg thinks it's not as holy as he'd thought it would be. Maria punches his shoulder, and he holds back a wince. Why is she so energetic? "You ready, George?"

He nods, but his mouth is a thin line and when Maria puts a feather-light hand on his arm, she can feel him shaking ever-so-slightly. "You?" He asks.

"Slightly nervous, but as ready as I'll ever be," she responds. Georg thinks she looks the exact opposite of nervous.

The people move. There's an open space, now, and for two seconds Maria and Georg freeze, staring at Mother Teresa, who stares back, unblinking. Eventually, Mother Teresa smiles and says, "come, come." They do so, Georg with one long stride and Maria skipping towards the Mother. "What are your names?" She asks them.

"My name is Maria Abess," says Ms Abess, smiling softly at Mother Teresa.

"Georg von Trapp, ma'am." Georg responds.

"Maria Abess," Mother Teresa repeats softly, and she looks at Georg as she says, "and you said it was Georg von Trapp?"

"Yes, ma'am."

She grins a little at his title for her, but doesn't chastise or comment on it. Instead, she says, "well then, Georg, how are you serving our Lord?"

The question catches Georg by surprise, and as a consequence of not expecting said question, his mouth begins to move before his mind does, "I," he says, "well, I, um, we," after a few more seconds of spluttering, his brain finally wraps itself around Mother Teresa's question, and he says, "I'm... I'm doing my best to raise my kids the way He'd want them to be raised. I'm doing my best to live a good life. I help out in my community, in my church."

Mother Teresa nods, "very well." She says. Turning to Maria, she asks, "well, Ms. Abess, what about you? How are you serving our Lord?"

Maria's smile grows into a grin, and she's practically bouncing on the balls of her feet when she says, "well, Mother, I suppose I'm doing whatever needs to be done. Whatever He wants me to do."

This answer is, apparently, different from what Mother Teresa usually hears, because the Mother's back straightens, and her little smile becomes more inquisitive. "How wonderful, Maria! And what is it that our God wants you to do at this moment in time?"

"Well," Maria cocks her head to the side, "later on today I'm going to go to a house on the edge of the city; I'm due to nanny some children there."

"How many?"

"Seven!" Maria exclaims, looking frazzled already. Georg starts slightly, but says nothing. Nothing's been confirmed yet. "But Mother, I do know, oh, I just know that this must be the Lord's plan, and with His gracious strength and wise hand guiding me, I know I can succeed in nannying this children. I just hope they like me."

"They'll like you, child, I know they will." Mother Teresa smiles. She pulls seven simple rosaries out of a bag that Georg hadn't seen before and says to Maria, "take these, for them."

"Thank you, Mother." Maria beams, taking the items, and the two women hug. "You are in my prayers; I ask that you continue praying for us as well!"

"Always, my dear," Mother Teresa responds, hugging Maria tighter. When they pull away, Georg finds that he can't really ask Mother Teresa for something she's already giving, so instead, he gives her a hug, planning to pull away quickly. The Mother surprises him, though; she pulls him close and keeps him tightly in her grasp, and she is so motherly, so holy and in love with God, that by the time she pulls away Georg is gasping for breath, tears in his eyes and a tear in his heart. "May God bless you, hold you, and keep you," Mother Teresa says, "all the days of your lives."

"Likewise." Maria and Georg say. They exchange their goodbyes, and then they're gone, walking back the way they had come. They walk for a couple minutes in silence, both of them thinking, when suddenly Georg's brain jump-starts and he says, "wait. You're nannying seven kids?"

"Yep!" Maria huffs out a breath, "no one at the charity I work at wanted them, so they gave the job to me. It's alright though; I don't mind."

"But... but seven children?"

"Careful, now, or you'll risk sounding dubious." Maria laughs at him and Georg rolls his eyes. "Yes, seven. I go meet with the family in two hours. They live on the edge of the city, south side." She says, "and, actually, I'm not even that worried about the kids; I'm more worried about their dad. File said he was overly-strict and had a mean streak. But who know, files have been wrong before. Maybe he'll be fun."

Is that what the agencies thought of him? Interesting.

"Interesting." Georg voices his thought out loud. "You know, I actually think I know the family. What did you say their last name was?"

"Ugh, I didn't," Maria frowns, "I can't remember! I think it was van Til, or something, hold on, I've got the file in my purse, let me check..." She digs through her horrendously giant tote bag, before pulling out a battered and bruised file. Opening it, she says, "there's Leisel, Friedrich -but they call him Fred- Louisa, but they call her Lu, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta, and Gretl... and the last name is v-" her head jerks up towards him so fast that Georg is afraid she'll develop whiplash. "It's v-" again, her head jerks towards him, before looking fiercely down at the paper. Then back to him. Then back down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Finally, she grinds out, "you've got to be kidding me." There's a disbelieving look on her face.

Georg sheepishly shrugs; "surprise?"

"You're the von Trapp dad?"

He nods.

"You've got seven kids?"

He nods again, and watches her eyes dart quickly towards his ring finger before looking back at him. He feels a swell of pride at this, but he doesn't really know why.

Okay, that's a lie. He absolutely knows why. He just doesn't want to admit it yet.

"I'm the lonely widower with seven children, yeah." Georg shrugs, and Maria blinks twice.

"Huh."

"I know."

"I guess the file did lie." Georg starts in surprise, but Maria doesn't catch his falter. Instead, she says, her voice bashful, "I hope I made a good first impression." She glances up at him, shyly.

He hesitates. Weighs his chances. And then he says, honestly and quietly, "you made a brilliant first impression."

And, well, if the crimson that graces her cheeks is anything to go by, Georg would say his chances are pretty good.


They go their separate ways so that Maria can finish getting her stuff out of her little flat on 222b Baker Street ("and, honestly, I'm glad I'm moving from there," she tells Georg, "I've got two neighbors upstairs from me and they're always yelling."), and so Georg can go make sure the kids haven't killed themselves. He's already been gone longer than anticipated, anyway. When he gets home, Gretl jumps into his arms and Liesel demands to know where he's been, but Georg simply puts a finger to his lips and says, "a father never tells."

(Perhaps he'll tell them someday, many months from now, but for today, he'll keep the events of the afternoon to himself.)

When Maria shows up, it's five thirty in the evening, and he can hear the bus that brought her pulling away loudly. Their house is large and two stories, looking out of place in the hustle and bustle of London, but it also, in a strange sort of manner, looks like it belongs. The knock on the door silences the children, and Georg goes to answer it. When he does, Maria is staring up at him, out of breath, with a guitar in her right hand and a suitcase in the other. Her other stuff was sent ahead; Georg guesses this was just the last of it. "You wouldn't believe how much I had to run to get here." Maria breathes out quickly and in low tones so the children can't hear. "I almost missed the bus!"

Georg looks her up and down before grinning, "I can tell."

Maria rolls her eyes at him, but she's blushing again. "Shut up."

"Is that really the proper way to speak to your employer?" He jests.

The blond grinds her jaw, and Georg thinks she's contemplating quitting when she says, "I take back what I said. The file was right. All right. Everything was correct. Everything."

This startles a loud laugh out of Georg, and Maria smirks in triumph as he claps a hand over his mouth to shut himself up. By this point, the children have been slowly tiptoeing forward, and it's now that Maria leans past Georg and looks at the seven of them. "Hi!" She beams.

The children scream and rush backwards.

"Hm." Maria says, mock serious. "Delightful."

And with that, she pushes past Georg, who promptly closes the door behind them and goes to introduce everyone.


Later on, when the kids are playing in the small front yard they have and Maria and Georg are watching them, Maria says, "hey, can I ask you a question?"

"Considering you'll probably ask me even if I said no, go ahead."

Maria takes a sip of her water, watching Kurt argue with Fred for a moment before she continues.

"Why didn't you tell me your name was Georg?"

And, well, all Georg can do is laugh.

fin.

Chapter Text

Georg thinks that Maria is deceiving.

He thinks that she isn't exactly who she's supposed to be, who she acts like she is.

She dresses in her sundresses and she goes to church every Sunday and sings with the choir, but Georg thinks there's something about her. That underneath the community service, underneath the sweet looks, there's a secret. Something hidden.

Really, though, he thinks as he watches her sidle up to the communion line to receive the Eucharist, he couldn't care less.


Two weeks later, Georg is on his way home from school, a mountain of books in his backpack, when he sees her.

There's a cigarette between her lips and her long hair is up in a high ponytail. Dark sunglasses frame her face and her legs, clad in black boots and light blue skinny jeans, swing from her perch on what looks like a forgotten wooden crate. Her lips twist into a grin (and in the brightness it looks almost shark-like) as a boy in front of her says something. Her white shirt is too bright against the black that everyone else is wearing.

Georg stops in his tracks, weight of his backpack forgotten, as he stares.

She hasn't noticed him yet, and neither has the boy or anyone else in the group next to her. He doesn't recognize any of them, but this isn't exactly interesting news; he and Maria go to different schools, after all. Different sides of the tracks and all that. Maria takes the cigarette between her fingers and holds it out away from her. Georg wonders how long she's been smoking. And then he wonders why.

She pulls the boy closer to her, whispers something to him that makes him flush, and the crowd around them hoots. When her lips brush his, Georg tears his gaze away and continues walking.

Georg doesn't think that Maria is deceiving.

Georg knows she is.


Kensington, Georg knew, was different from Daniels. KHS was a place with clean hallways and good students, where morals were upheld and if there was someone acting up, they were dealt with swiftly. His high school was different than Maria's. He just hadn't ever really thought about how much of a difference laid between KHS and DHS.

He drives past DHS sometimes. It's not easy on the eyes.

Kensington is grand and open, but Daniels High School is crumbling and closed, with trash littered out front and kids in old ripped clothes staring at you with hard looks as you pass. He drives past it a month later and he sees that everyone is dressed in black save for one.

She's got those black boots on again, her long blond hair loose, and a strikingly white dress meets the boots as she walks, back turned to him, towards a boy that's different but the same as the one he saw a while back. He's close enough that he can hear a girl shout for her as he drives past, watches the girl break away from a group of kid with a, "Abess!" The back of her leather jacket flashes as her legs, in their black sheer tights, sprint towards her. Montoya, the jacket reads, and Georg can't help but ask himself whether that's her, or her significant other.

Georg is gone before he can hear what Montoya had to say to Maria, but in his rearview mirror, he sees the way the boys look at Maria, and he silently prays a Hail Mary.

If not for her, then for his sanity.


"von Trapp," the voice is familiar and, turning from the counter he had been cleaning, he finds the sweet smile of Maria. She's alone, Georg notes; no parents or friends. But those heeled boots are still on her feet and her long blond hair is pulled in a braid, a red dress framing her body as she leans across the counter, "long time, no see."

He tilts his head, "middle school was a long time ago, yeah."

She snorts, and her boots clack as she shifts her weight, "I didn't know you worked here."

"I didn't know you came here," his retort is soft, but she catches it.

Maria raises an eyebrow, "first time for everything, am I right?"

"It would seem so."

It's funny, he thinks, that she looks like an angel even in her own school of misfits, that as she places her order and walks away to sit on the couch, her walk is effortless and angelic, that even the way she talks -free of coarse language and rough words- is reminiscent of a heaven.

But he's a little wiser, now. And as she meets his eyes with that get back stare of hers, he feels a little more daring, too.

So when he hands her the order she'd placed (coffee, black, no sugar), he watches her leave, waiting for her to notice. She turns to walk left and stops just before she slips past the view of the open windows. Looking up from her coffee cup, her eyes wide, mouth open in surprise, she turns towards the window slowly, only to find him watching her with a look she can't decipher.

Slowly, her lips form a smirk, and Maria, much to his surprise, bows most extravagantly to him, throwing an arm out and tucking the other underneath her. Still low in her bow, she picks up her head to make eye contact with him, and he nods his head quietly towards her, that look still etched onto his features.

As she straightens and walks out of view, he grips the sharpie closer to himself, wondering what he'd just got himself into.

the devil in disguise, he'd written.

He hoped to God it wasn't true.


"You're looking fine today," Maria says by way of greeting many months later, as he hands her his coffee. She's always had the luck of coming in when the shop is half-empty or empty altogether, and today is no exception.

"I look the same every time you see me, Maria," Georg bites the inside of his cheek as she blatantly eyes him.

"In fact," Maria's mouth twists into that same shark-like grin, ignoring his retort, "you look so fine, that I really want to make you mine." She leans forward as she speaks, and Georg leans back, face heating up. For a high school graduate who's enlisted in the navy, he thinks, he sure is awfully frightened of this girl. The door to the shop jingles, and someone walks in, bringing the hot outside air with them.

"Abess," a boy's voice says, and Maria and Georg both turn, slowly, to find a dark-haired boy with a sharp jawline staring at them both. "What's a girl like you doin' in a joint like this?"

"I could ask you the same thing, Nickells," Maria retorts, but she's got that shark-like smile on her face again and that get back stare is still there, a little more pronounced when she looks at him.

Oh, Maria, Georg thinks as he pieces things together. He watches the boy sling an arm around her, watches him look her up and down with an expression of pure hunger and nothing else. Maria, walk away before he breaks you.

Because that's what these boys do, he knows. And though Maria's among the girls that breaks people, she's not invulnerable.

"How much do I owe you?" Maria pulls out her wallet, her jaw locked and back stiff at Nickells' arm around her, but Nickells stops her. "Let me, Q." There's a warning to her voice, but he ignores it.

"Now, now," Q shakes his head. "You don't need money when you look like that, do you, honey?" Nickells steers her towards the door and he throws a dangerous smile in Georg's direction, "on the house, I'm sure, that right?"

Big black boots and long blonde hair stare back at him as Maria gives him a warning look, that sweet demeanour melting as Georg ignores her. "Wrong."

Q's jaw twitches. "'Scuse me?"

Georg shrugs, stepping out behind the counter and disappearing from view. When he emerges again, his apron is off and he's clocked out. Off duty, now. "I don't care how pretty Maria is; you've gotta pay."

"Maria, huh?" He looks at Maria carefully, "you on a first name basis?"

"Known him since middle school," Maria shrugs. She digs in her giant tote bag and then hands Georg a five dollar bill. "Keep the change, von Trapp."

Q grabs her roughly. Maria rips her hand away and says, "you don't own me, Quentin."

"Don't tell me what the f-"

"-she just did." Georg shrugs.

The air stills. Electricity crackles. And then Maria says, "we're done, Q." Her voice is quiet. Georg almost misses it.

"What the hell did you say?" Quentin steps towards her, and even from here Georg can smell the cigarettes on his breath. "You don't tell me when we're through."

"But I already have," Maria shuts him up with a look. "I was going to wait til we'd walked out of this fine facility to deal with you, but it looks like this place will have to deal with a little dirty business." She raises her eyebrows, "don't make me punch you, Quentin."

"You couldn't punch me, slut."

Georg's insides bristle. He takes a step towards them but Maria holds up a hand to stop him. She raises herself up and slowly leans towards Quentin. She whispers something that Georg can't hear into his ear, but when she pulls away, he's astonished to find Quentin standing still. And slowly, he turns towards the door. And he leaves.

"What," Georg clears his throat, "the hell."

She walks towards the door before motioning for Georg to follow, and he does, relieved that his coworker has just walked through the door to take over. The night air is warm and Maria pulls out her phone, typing a text to someone called Wendy Montoya (the girl with the jacket from so long ago, Georg recalls) before slipping the cracked smart phone back into her purse. "You shouldn't be so surprised, you know," her voice still has that sweet lilt to it, like she belongs on the same plane as the angels. Her breath smells clear, not like cigarettes. He wonders if she's quit or if she's dieting on breath mints.

He hums, waiting for her to continue.

"You knew what I was, what I am," Maria shrugs, "the fact that I can take care of myself shouldn't be a shock."

"It isn't a shock."

"Then what was that face you pulled back there?"

"It was shock," Georg corrects himself, "but not at the fact that you can take care of yourself. It was more shock that you cast the fear of the devil into that guy. And I don't know why. I just know you did."

Maria rolls her eyes as she reaches her truck, opening the passenger door and motioning for him to get in. "I know you don't have a car," she tells him, "you must be awfully tired of having to call your mom."

So he gets in the truck. Texts his mother.

The diesel engine starts and she takes a sip of her coffee before putting it in the cupholder, pulling out of the parking lot without too much trouble. They're halfway to his house when she says, "you pegged me right the other day."

"What, when I said that you were annoying?"

Her laugh rings loud in the truck, clean and free, and he's surprised to find that he likes the laugh. "No, dumbass," she rolls her eyes, "that first time I came to that coffee shop."

Oh, he thinks.

"Oh," he says.

They're at a red light. Maria takes another sip of her coffee. The devil in disguise is written on it in his handwriting, same as he writes every week. Suddenly the words take on a whole other meaning, but even then, Georg can't find it in him to be one hundred percent scared of her. That one percent hangs on, insistent as ever. "Word on the street is that Georg von Trapp is headed out tomorrow."

He nods, "navy."

"D'you think we'll see each other again?"

He doesn't answer.

He doesn't need to.

"Neither do I," Maria shrugs, one hand resting lazily on the steering wheel as she turns onto his street. It's odd, that she still remembers where he lives; Maria hasn't been to his house since the seventh grade, and they graduated high school last week. "I mean, I'm shipping out to NYC and never coming back to this sh-" her words are drowned out by the noise of a car honking in the lane opposite their's "-and you're gonna be on a boat, so I doubt we'll ever see each other again." Her voice quiets, "and it's a damn shame. I liked you, von Trapp."

He wonders why she's going to NYC. He wonders if she'll join the choir at St Parick's Cathedral or if she'll forget God altogether. She hasn't sung at church in a while, now.

"What an honor."

Maria laughs again, pulling up to his house. He opens the door to leave, but before he can, Maria pulls him back, voice catching him. "von Trapp?" She asks, and, for the first time, she sounds a little unsure.

Georg turns, looking at her. He finds that her get back stare is gone. So is that sweet facade of hers. It's just Maria staring back at him. Just the devil in all her dimness. "Abess?"

Her name has barely escaped his lips before she kisses him, strong and fierce, taking his breath away as she wrings her hands into his shirt. They kiss long and they kiss hard, two teenagers afraid of facing the world, before they pull away, a sense of finality dawning upon them. "For the road," Maria shrugs. "Maybe now you won't forget me."

"I'd never forget you."

He slips out of the truck quietly, taking her kiss with him, and he's just stepped onto his lawn when she says, "good luck out there, von Trapp. And, hey," when he looks up to meet her gaze, she says, "promise you won't give up out there, Georg?"

It's the first time she's called him Georg. He turns to look at her, remembering her just as she is, with that long blond hair, hand swung over the wheel as her other brings his coffee cup to her lips. He knows she's got those big black boots on, even if he can't see them. His devil in disguise. "I promise." Georg breathes out. "Maria, do me a favor?"

"Sure thing, handsome."

"In New York? Join a choir. The one at St. Patrick's or some other Catholic church."

Maria raises a brow, "I can't promise that I'll stay."

"Stay for a month. Please."

(And he knows it's pushing it, but Maria deserves more than cigarettes and a disguise. She deserves a better life than drinking out of coffee cups that dub her the devil and she deserves more than putting the fear of hell into men who think she's nothing but a playtoy.)

Slowly, Maria nods. "A month." When he looks like he doesn't believe her, she adds, "swear my soul to the devil that I'll stay for a month."

And it isn't exactly the promise he'd like, but it's a promise nonetheless.

So Georg smiles at her, and she smiles back, and he disappears into his house with one last glance her way. "Good luck, Abess," he says.

And then he's gone.


Things have been tough lately. Things have been tough and he's wanted to quit so bad, but there's a promise in his heart and a kiss in his chest that keeps him from walking off. And the boys on his ship are all telling stories of their baddest romances when one turns to him, saying, "what about you, von Trapp?"

Georg, looking up from his notebook, pretends to think for a moment before he says, "I kissed the devil in disguise."

The boys are staring at him, and so, begrudgingly, he tells them about a sweet girl with big black boots, long blonde hair, and a get back stare. Her shark-like grin greets him in his memories, that kiss fierce and strong in his mind. He tells them about a girl named Maria Abess, and he tells them all about her: the devil in disguise.


Far away, a nun greets Maria with a welcoming smile as she asks, "what brings you here, my daughter?"

Maria has never been welcomed like this; has never been held as if she was already accepted. As if she'd already earned her place. Coughing back her tears, a million things run through her mind, but what she says is this:

"I made a promise."

The nun smiles again.

"Well, my darling, I am most glad you have decided to keep it."

She laughs. It's the first time she's laughed since the last time she saw him.

"Yeah," Maria says. "Me too."


Ten years later, Maria is sitting with the choir, preparing for Mass, when a man genuflects and then takes a seat at the very back of the church. He's in uniform, but Maria doesn't see this. She doesn't even see the man. She's praying.

Mass begins, and she sings with the choir, her voice just a little louder than everyone else's.

He knows that voice, he thinks, surprise and adrenaline coursing through his veins. Looking around, he finally spots the choir, eyes coming to rest upon a woman dressed in white. She's barefoot. Her heels are next to her, but it looks as if she's ditched them. Her hair is short and her eyes are bright with joy, and the grin on her face isn't the shark-like smile he remembers (though he's sure she's still capable of producing that smirk), but it's her. He stands for communion, the last one in line, and she still doesn't see him, though he's uncomfortable with everyone staring at him. He wishes he'd had the chance to change before coming to Mass.

And then the priest dismisses the congregation, and Maria is putting her choir books away, laughing to something a nun next to her is saying. Georg stands. Looks at her. The nun notices his staring, and she says something to her before the woman with short blond hair spins around, eyes wide.

They only get wider when she sees him.

It happens in slow motion; he steps towards her at the same time as she breaks into a run towards him, completely ignoring any propriety one is supposed to have in a church. But he doesn't care; he picks her up in his arms and holds her tight anyway, wondering to himself how on earth this is possible. When they pull away, Maria smiles at him, radiant, "hey there, soldier," she says, and he sees something different in her. Something new. That hollowness that used to occupy her is gone. And he is glad.

"How goes it, angel?" His retort is gentle, but the beam she gives him brings a blush to his cheeks.

"If I could tell you over dinner, that'd be great."

He looks at his watch. He's got time. "Sounds good."

She hooks their arms together, already telling him about this amazing Thai place not far from here, and Georg can't help but grin. "A million to one, right?" Maria says when she sees the look on his face.

"More like a billion to one."

She snorts, but her demeanour gets quieter when she says, "hey, von Trapp?"

"Mm?"

"Thank you," Maria murmurs. "For making me promise you, all those years ago."

His breath catches in his throat. "Thank you, Maria, for exactly the same."

And, well.

Georg doesn't think Maria is deceiving. Not anymore.

Now, he thinks she's exactly who she's supposed to be.

Chapter Text

The sun was shining brightly when Georg got up; a rare occurrence for his household. Usually he got up no later than seven-thirty on a weekend, his children awaking at eight, but today he'd slept in; a telling reminder of the fact that he and the kids were still getting over a bad fit of the flu.

Swinging his feet off the bed, he slipped them into his slippers and padded to the bathroom, beginning his morning routine. Once finished and dressed, he walked back out, purposefully striding towards the boys' room. Fred and Kurt were snoring loudly when he opened the door, heavy curtains blocking out the sun. How they'd slept with birds chirping loudly outside, Georg didn't know. But, as he opened the window, he had to hold back the laughter that threatened to spill as his sons groaned.

Ah, yes. Parenthood. It was in the little things.

"Dad," Kurt said, still young and naïve enough to believe his father would somehow show pity on him, "please."

Fred hit him with a pillow. "Kurt, shut up."

Georg snorted; Fred never was a morning person. Lucky for him, his sons were still too tired to notice their father's amusement, giving Georg time to school his expression into the stern and stoic face to which they were accustomed. "Fred!" He hollered, "apologize to your brother. We do not tolerate roughhousing inside."

Fred mumbled something Georg didn't catch, and then, getting up, said, "sorry, Kurt."

Kurt whispered what sounded suspiciously like "sit on it you toad," but nodded quietly before heading towards the closet while Fred headed towards the bathroom.

"Thirty minutes, children!" He said, and strode out of the room, to the other end of the hall to were the girls' rooms were. Deciding it would be easier to wake Gretl and Marta first, Georg opened the door to their room to find it... empty.

Huh.

Peculiar.

Making a face, Georg walked quietly to the door opposite him, and leaned his ear against the wood. Sure enough, Gretl's voice could be heard inside: "she's very pretty!"

Various question marks arose in Georg's mind.

Louisa said, "and she's musically inclined -even better!"

Louisa was up? Surely something important was at foot in the bedroom. Louisa debated her father every weekend about the waking-up-at-eight routine. She hated that rule.

The girls all started giggling, and then Liesl said, "and he has to go, you know -I asked if I could make him this dating account and he said yes, said 'if anyone wants to go out with my old face, I'll even let you pick out the outfit!'" Giggles erupted again, and a dawning realization hit Georg.

The dating app.

Had come back to bite him.

"I can't believe she swiped right, she's like a dream come true!" Brigitta's voice rang through the room, and Georg guessed this was as good a time as any to burst through the doors.

He knocked, "girls?" He asked, before peaking his head inside. He found them all dressed, Marta sleeping in Louisa's empty bed. "What's going on in here?"

The girls all glanced at each other, looking to Liesl for the lead. She said, "Papa, remember the dating app?"

He sighed. Liesl took this as a yes.

"Well," she began, "you've got a date tonight."

He chose his next words very carefully. "Do I?" He asked. "Whoever thought that would be a good idea?"

Brigitta laughed, "oh, plenty of people, Papa!"

"Really, Bri?" Georg stepped further into the room, throwing the window curtains open. "Is that so?"

Louisa piped up: "yeah, you even got a duchess to swipe right."

"A duchess?" Georg's interest is peaked.

Gretle hurriedly added, "but we didn't choose her."

"And why ever not?"

Bri got a dark look on her face: "she wasn't smiling in any of her photos."

Marta piped up, surprising Georg; he'd thought she was asleep. "And she smoked."

"I smoke," Georg pointed out.

"Yes, but you smoke only once and a while, and only cigars," Liesl said wisely, "she was smoking cigarettes in three photos!"

"Well, that's atrocious," Georg agreed, biting back a smile. "Tell me though, who did you pick for me?"

"Her name is Maria Abess," Liesl said, and shoved the phone into her father's hands, waiting for his reaction.

He masked it carefully; he didn't want them to see how very surprised he was. He was impressed they'd found him a match at all. He was even more impressed that he thought her quite pretty. She was holding a guitar in one photo, sitting on a tree, smiling. He wondered how she'd managed to get up there with a guitar. Looking at the next photo, he found her standing on a hill, midway through a spin, face alight with a grin.

She was pretty. And she looked to be full of joy, too. He hoped she was nice. "And Ms Abess is interested in me?" He asked. The girls nodded happily.

"She's brave, too!" Liesl did something to the screen, and up popped a chat between him and Ms Abess.

Maria Abess [Fri, 11:20pm]
Well, would you look at that; it seems we find each other attractive

"Text her back, Papa!" Louisa smiled sweetly at him. "I'll bet she'll want to go out with you!"

"Do you think so?" Georg asked, watching as Liesl downloaded the app onto his phone and logged into the account, logging out it on her phone as she did so.

"Of course!" Marta shot up, hair frazzled. "Who wouldn't?" She squinted at the bright room, and then, with an air of finality, said, "now, where's my book?"

Everybody laughed, and as the girls skipped out of the room, Georg followed slowly behind them.

Georg von Trapp [Sat, 9:00am]
It does indeed. I hope you don't mind me asking, but I'm curious: do you really play guitar?


Georg was... nervous.

He didn't get nervous very often, and so, as he sat in his booth and waited for Ms Abess to arrive, he found the feeling to be alien. He didn't much care for it, at all.

Before he could process the emotion further, a voice startled him from his thoughts. "Georg?" A woman's voice hesitantly called, and his eyes snapped up to find a beautiful lady smiling at him. The smile was one that took his breath away; not because she had nice teeth (though her teeth were, indeed, very nice) or anything of the sort, but because it was a real smile, one that met her eyes. "Georg von Trapp?"

He found himself unable to speak.

Well.

This was certainly odd.

He opened his mouth and then closed it again,very much insecure. The woman -Ms Abess- looked down, even more insecure. "I-I'm sorry, I must've got the wrong table... Alright, I'll leave you alone." She moved to walk off, and it was only then that Georg's mind snapped into action.

"Ms Abess?" He asked, hoping she'd forgive him for his nervousness.

She turned around, beaming.

"I'm sorry," Georg said, standing to pull out her chair. "I was, quite literally, breathtaken."

Ms Abess giggled, and as she sat, she said, "please, call me Maria."

Georg tilted his head. "Hello, Maria."


Later -much later; on their honeymoon, in fact- Georg decided that the dating app hadn't been such a bad idea after all.