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First Date

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“You don’t need to give me your coat, I’m perfectly fine,” Beatrice protested

“Nonsense. You’re cold and I’m incredibly hot,” Benedick countered with a wink. “I would just end up carrying it anyway.”

“So I’m your coatrack now, am I?”

“I’m just…trying to be nice,” he sighed. “You don’t have to take it.”

“No, it’s fine. I am a bit chilly. Thanks,” Beatrice mumbled as she slipped her arms into Benedick’s coat. Then there was a silence. She wasn’t used to things being this quiet, especially around Ben. Nor was she the type of girl to accept a jacket from a chivalrous young gentleman. But it was cold and he offered, so she accepted. That’s all.

It was also really sweet of him to walk her all the way home. It’s not like he lived all that far. She was just on the way from the movie theatre. Well, a little out of the way, but only a block or so. And his car was broken at the moment so he would have had to walk anyway.

It wasn’t the best date she had ever been on, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. It had been a little awkward to say the least. The two had never actually been on a real date before. With each other, that is. With the giant fiasco of their lives going on, they had never really had time. Even now, after the dust had settled, it was still hard to make sense of all the details.

Sure they hung out a bit, well, a lot during all the drama. They even confessed their love like for each other. They shared a lot during the weeks that Hero was suffering, but their real relationship of doing relationshippy things started tonight. Bea still wasn’t quite sure how she felt about it. And, if he was honest, Ben wasn’t all that sure either.

He didn’t bring her flowers or anything, but he did pay for dinner (“It’s only pizza,” he justified). And Bea paid for the movie, but they shared a bag of popcorn. They didn’t hold hands, but he was still walking her home with his coat slung over her shoulders.

Bea knew she should’ve worn something more practical than one of Hero’s dresses. But her cousin insisted that she looked stunning in black. She couldn’t believe she’d even forgotten a coat. She remembered mentioning the weather and telling Hero to remind her to grab one, but then Ben was there and they were practically shoved out the door. She never would’ve done that before. Then again, they never really went out, just the two of them, until now. And now they had to live their relationship by an entirely new set of terms.

Were they the type of couple that would kiss goodnight at the door?  Sure they’d smushed faces a bit already, but it wasn’t really the same. It had just been something to do while they were sorting out their feelings and everything seemed unsure. Now it would mean something. Now it mattered. Should she invite him in? Should she push him over and race him to her place?

She needed time to plan. Scenario after unrealistic scenario ran over her mind. She could kiss him on the cheek. Or bring him up to her room. Or awkwardly fist bump him. Or faint. Or a UFO could swoop down and abduct her. Or a man in a blue box could appear and ask her to be his companion. Or she could look into his eyes and—

Ben cleared his throat, snapping her back into reality. They were standing on her porch. She couldn’t believe she had spent all that time daydreaming, she hadn’t even noticed the hill. And yet, she needed more time. She was just getting something resembling a good plan. She was then hit with the realization that she hadn’t said anything for most of the walk. Was the silence as awkward for him as it was for her?

She finally looked into his eyes and the worry melted away. This was Benedick, of all people. He was the epitome of awkward. Well, awkward in a good way. His smile reassured her in a way only he could. It said, ‘All I want is to be next to you. Nothing else matters.’ And funnily enough, she hoped her smile spoke the same truth.

“Well,” Ben stammered, “this was, um, really fun. I had a pretty okay time. More than okay. It was great. You were great. You look great. Did I say that yet? But, um…yeah.”

Bea giggled timidly. He was such a goof. But his exterior mirrored her interior. The nervousness bubbled within her but she refused to let it out. It also had the side effect of making her uncharacteristically quiet.

“Um, yeah,” she replied, “great movie.” What was she saying? The movie sucked. They should’ve been discussing how much the script writers fucked up and how Team Blessed could have fixed it.

“It was,” he paused, choosing his words, “something.”

So he did hate the movie. Why did he agree with her? Couldn’t things just go back to normal?

“And how about the food,” he continued, “What did I tell you, best pizza in Auckland or what?”

“Definitely.” At least they could honestly agree on something.

And then there was that reliable awkward pause. Where was the banter to fill the emptiness?

“Anyway,” Bea said, breaking the silence, “thanks again for walking me home. And for lending me your jacket.”

“Honestly, it was no problem.”

She shrugged off the coat and handed it back to Ben. Headlights brightened the scene as a car drove down the street, the subtle engine sound filling the void of silence. But the car passed, the silence returned, and a single porch lamp became their only source of light again.

“Well, bye,” Benedick said with a little wave. Bea lifted her hand slightly to mimic the gesture. Ben slowly making his way down the path towards the sidewalk. Bea still didn’t know how she wanted the night to end, but it sure as hell wasn’t like this. She stared longingly at the back of his head until he reached the sidewalk.

She was about to turn and go back inside when vibrant blue eyes met hers. Ben saw that she was still looking back and with silent communication, he started moving towards her.  Right then, everything clicked into place and suddenly Bea knew exactly what she wanted.

She ran to him with all the energy that had bottled up inside her the entire night. They met halfway, almost knocking each other off their feet. Their lips crashed into each other with a new found passion. In that moment, everything became very clear. This was one thing they were good at.

It didn’t matter that there had been so many silences and stumbles. They were still working out there relationship. It would take a while to get a rhythm, and that was okay. It didn’t matter that it was their first date or that past-Bea would never do this or that Hero was probably peeking out the curtains, watching them right now. It didn’t matter what Leo, or Pedro, or Meg, or anyone would say. Let them warn, let them gloat, let them gossip. It truly did not matter at all. All that mattered was how Beatrice felt, and how she knew Benedick felt too.

They slowly broke apart, neither of them really wanting the kiss to end.

“Bea, I…” he started, not quite sure where to finish.

“I know,” she filled in, “Me too”

“See you tomorrow, love,” he charmed.

“Ew, do not call me that,” she countered.

“Why not, I think it’s nice. And British”

“It’s so old fashioned. And British”

“Oh come on, love, it’s not that bad.”

“You’re insufferable”

“That’s why you like me”

“Oh my god, get over yourself”

“Never”

She sighed.

“Well I can’t keep arguing with you outside my house all night—”

“So you’re inviting me in? We can argue inside. We can do other things too.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

“No, I’m sending you home”

“Alas, the time has come to part.” He grabbed her and with an overdramatic flourish, he bowed and brought it to his lips. “Goodnight fair Beatrice”

She smiled and grabbed his collar, pulling his face up to meet hers. She kissed him quickly and passionately, short and sweet. It was over too soon, but it was perfect.

“See you later, dickface.”

She rushed up the porch steps, swung the door open, and ran inside. As she closed the door she heard Benedick say one last thing. However, she pretended not to hear. He was not allowed to have the last word on this one. He was not allowed to make her heart thump and cheeks flush like this. At least, he couldn’t think he had. But as she leaned against the door, her heart skipped a beat and she grinned from ear to ear. She ran to find Hero and tell her about the night. Oh god, when did she become such a girl?

Well, maybe being a girl wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Maybe there were an infinite number of ways to be a girl and she just had to find her specific, Beatrice way to do things. Maybe it was okay to change. Maybe it was okay to have your heart beat faster when hearing a certain boy say four certain words.

“See you later, love.”