His phone rings, a loud poppy song that he has no recollection of programming onto his phone. He grabs the phone, not bothering to look at the clock, before answering.
“Katy?” Andy answers, his voice gravely from sleep.
“Hi.” She breathes out, almost in relief.
He pauses, waiting for the long explanation that usually comes with her calling him at such a late hour, but all he can hear is her breathing.
“Any particular reason you’re calling me in the middle of the night?”
“I..” She falters, before sighing. He hears her rustling about, before her voice is loud in his ear, and he can picture her, curled up in her bed, the phone sandwiched between her head and the pillow.
“I just needed to be reminded that someone still cares about me.”
“Katy,” he replies in what he hopes isn’t a patronizing tone, “Lots of people care about you.”
“I mean care about me, as in no matter what I do or what happens.”
He tries to ignore the hitch in her voice, that she’s not falling apart miles away from where he is.
“You’re always going to have me. And you’ve got Lori and Marie and Rei…”
“I know,” her voice cracks, and he hears her struggle to keep her emotions calm, “I just forget sometimes.”
He swallows, trying to put his thoughts together before responding. He inwardly curses their distance, wishing that she was here with him, where he can tell her that he does care in person, because this phone call can’t replicate the way he’d look at her when he said it, or the way when he hugs her her head would fit perfectly beneath his own.
They sit with a comfortable silence between them, listening to hustle and bustle of the coffee shop. Katy stares down at her coffee, wondering why she feels so shaken by his lack of surprise. She knows he’s one of very few people who know her like this, the type of person who bolts the moment there’s a problem with people. She proved that when they first tried to be friends again, when she walked out of that library, infuriated by his indifference. If he hadn’t followed her out, if he hadn’t kissed-
“Does this have anything to do with us?” His voice snaps her out of thoughts, her eyes meeting his when he mentions us. She’s again shaken by him, the way he looks at her, something she’s only seen once, outside of his dorm building as the rain came down around them.
It has everything to do with him. When he kissed her twice in her car that one summer’s day in front of the library. When she showed up at his dorm after a four hour ride, just to see him, under the disguise of studying. When they kissed in the rain that night. When he found her completely in pieces after James broke up with her. Wave upon wave of memories of them flood her brain.
She knows the honest answer is yes, but she can’t bear to hurt him like that. But she’s not running from him, she’s running for him. She needs to clear her head, get some time away from him, to make sure this is what she wants.
Instead, she lies. Her running has everything to do with James and her broken heart, and when she comes back, everything will be back to normal, and maybe they can discuss this “us” rationally.
He’s still looking at her, his eyes dark, focused solely on her. She wants to reach out to him, figure out what exactly “us” means right now and what it could mean when she gets back.
Katy sat up, her book falling carelessly into her lap. She sniffed the air, a look of disgust appearing on her face.
“Lori?” She called out, before setting her book on the coffee table in front of her, “What the hell is that smell?”
Lori appeared in the doorway in front of her, looking as frazzled as ever, “Um well…”
Katy attempted to peer around her into the kitchen, “Did you burn something? You’ve only been cooking for like five minutes…”
“You burned what?”
“How did you burn water?! You’ve cooked a thousand times! You’ve made Thanksgiving dinner here twice and you burn water!”
“Well, your sink is below a window and I got distracted by a squirrel…”
Lori was cut off by the sound of Katy texting someone.
“Oh come on! You better not be telling this to Andy!”
Katy held up her phone, with a wicked smile on her face, “He says “Dear god is the kitchen okay? You better hunt that squirrel down.”
Her bags were already packed when she told him. They were sitting at a table in their favourite coffee shop and all she could think of was the perfectly matching set of five bags sitting by her door, waiting patiently to be taken to the airport.
Her fingers twitched nervously around her coffee cup. “I’m leaving for London in three days.” She finally spat out, quickly. He tried to hide his surprise by taking a long sip from his cup.
“How long are you staying there?”
She gazed down at her cup, the steam rising from it the only thing she could focus on, “Indefinitely.” Finally, she looked up and met his gaze, “My stint at the dig is only supposed to last six weeks, but if they need me, I’m planning to stay.”
Now he looked down at his cup, “Is it because of James?”
“Yes and no.”
They sat there in silence, each in their own thoughts.
“I can’t say I’m too surprised. People were always the ones leaving you, I was starting to wonder when you would start to do the leaving.”
“You don’t have to be here you know. You’ve got that big exhibit coming up and I don’t want you getting sick.” Andy said, his voice sounding congested as he propped himself up on his pillows.
Katy set the bowl of soup down on the bedside table and held out two pills in her hand. “I can’t make sure you take these and get enough fluid in your system by phone. So shut up and eat your soup.”
“Is this alphabet soup?” He questioned, as he lifted a spoonful to his mouth.
“Of course! What other type of soup would I give you?”
He shrugged, before loudly slurping the broth from the spoon. “Is there something written with the letters of the soup?”
She stared at him incredulously, “That only happens in corny movies.”
“But you didn’t answer my question. Is there something written?”
She got up from the bed, “I am walking away now.”
He peered into his soup. “Its ‘I love you’ isn’t it? Awwww you love me?” He called out at her retreating form.
“Shut up and eat your damn soup!”