Long-Term Fondness. (Not Love)"This isn't a love story you're writing, Katherine." Zachary said frowning as Katherine swooned around his room choosing his outfit. "You know." she said not listening to him. "I'm so proud of myself for getting you two together."
"We have a bet going, it is not like we are eloping-" Katherine gasped at the thought. "That'd be so cute!" she exclaimed. Zachary rubbed his hands over his face exasperatedly. He hadn't gotten much sleep last night, so he called on Katherine to assist him today. After all, he'd need all the help he could get to leave the house.
"Do you think Nate likes blue or green better?" Katherine asked holding up the colored cardigans she spoke of. Zachary snatched the green one from her throwing it on over his black t-shirt. "Does it even matter?" he asked beyond annoyed with his long-term friend, whom merely giggled in his expense. "Don't you want to make a good impression with his parents?"
"No. I won't know them for the rest of my life, will I? What they think of me impacts nothing." he said grouchily. Katherine rolled her eyes at him as if he were being childish. "Doesn't it affect your relationship with Nate though?" she asked.
"What relationship?" Zachary countered.
"He likes you." she responded with a shrug, "Don't you want him to /keep/ liking you?"
"I'd rather not discuss the matter, actually. Do you have a mint?" he asked. Katherine smirked at him. "For what? Does your breath happen to impact anything involving your future?" Zachary glared at her as she pulled a pack of gum from her pocket.
"By the way. Polly wants to see a movie Sunday." Katherine said slowly, as if she were walking on egg shells. "Is this my invitation?" Zachary asked taking the stick of chewing gum from Katherine's soft fingers.
"Well, yeah, if you're up to it." she responded. "Why would I not?" Zachary asked stitching his eyebrows together. "Well, I thought you two were mad at each other?" she asked. Zachary scoffed. "When have I ever been on bad terms with /Polly Macbeth/?"
Katherine smiled warmly at her friend moving to hug him. Zachary, not expecting the hug, hadn't moved. "Just...give yourself a chance to be happy, okay? I'll call you later to ask how it went." she whispered before pulling away. Zachary felt a little guilty having not held her back, but she was smiling so brightly you'd think she'd gotten the best hug in her lifetime.
"See you later Zach." she sang leaving his room. Zachary, moments later having heard interaction downstairs, followed suit. Katherine was at the door letting Nathaniel Greeley inside and waving Zachary goodbye.
"Am I too early?" Nathaniel asked looking at Zachary's nude feet. Zachary only shuffled away, not responding. Once he had his shoes he went back to the foyer only to find Nathaniel gone. "Making yourself at home?" he asked entering the living area.
Nathaniel looked up from the picture he was holding in his hands with a smile on his face.
"You were so cute, what happened?" Nathaniel asked holding up the picture of Zachary as a boy, long blonde hair and glasses missing, he had gap-tooth, but still smiled widely at the camera. "This was before I started school. Need I say more?" Zachary asked taking the photo and putting it back in it's place. "Oh... Are those your parents?" Nathaniel asked another question, quick to recover from the last.
"My mother, Martha, and my father Zachary senior." Zachary said smiling back at their own smiling faces. It was their first trip to San Harbor, when Zachary's mother was still pregnant with him.
"You look like your mom...blonde hair, button nose-" Zachary cleared his throat. "Are you ready to leave?" Nathaniel looked at his emotionally detached expression in concern. "You okay?" he asked moving closer. Zachary made a bee line towards the front entrance. "My father will be home after ten, so I will need to be back before then." Zachary said looking at Nathaniel with a slight smirk. "This should give me enough time to prove myself correct and you completely wrong." Nathaniel simply laughed, shrugging his remark off. "We'll just have to see about that."
"Zachary Barren? As in /the/ Zachary Barren?" Nathaniel's mother, Patricia Greeley, asked. Zachary smiled politely. "Yes, ma'am. But you must be familiar with my father, and his work." She grinned at him. "Why, of course. Well, you know...you have his eyes." Zachary smiled. "Actually both of my parents have blue eyes." Henry Greeley, Nathaniel's father, placed a firm hand on his shoulder. "Well, it's nice to finally meet you Zach, can I call you Zach? Nate hasn't seemed to shut up about you since God only knows when-"
"/Dad/, can you not?" Nathaniel said almost harshly. His parents both laughed glancing at each other in such a fond way Zachary was blind-sighted. He was right about the fact that they would be fond after so many years together, but what really caught Zachary off guard was the gleam in both partners eyes. When he looked at Nathaniel he was grinning.
Zachary's face burned red. "Er...well we've been in the same year since grade school." he excused. Henry chuckled. "I'd hardly say the topic of you relates to school-" Nathaniel cleared his throat. "/Dad/!" he warned. "Come on Zachary, I'll show you around the house." Zachary noticed the face Nathaniel made towards his parents even if it were behind his back.
Zachary looked around once inside. The walls were the same green as his cardigan and littered in posters torn from magazines or bought online. Nathaniel's sheets were the same neutral green as the walls, but his comforter and the cotton pillow cases were black.
Zachary suddenly wished he'd worn the blue. "You fit right in." Nathaniel laughed aloud picking a camera up from the desk pushed against the far wall. "Do you mind?" Nathaniel asked. Zachary adjusted his glasses shaking his head. He watched as Nathaniel took the picture.
"Nathaniel...might I ask when your parents met?" he said, voice low. "They grew up together." Nathaniel answered simply. Zachary hummed studying a 'Blackbear' poster. "Though, it was during their senior year that my mom asked my dad out."
"Your mother?" Zachary looked up. Nathaniel nodded. "Yeah...I guess the men in our family never were too courageous when it comes to romance." Nathaniel said scuffing his sneaker at the carpet with a red tinge in his cheeks.
Zachary found it hard to look away. "Well...I suppose such a level of fondness can be an affect of the long-term relationship, but..." he trailed off not wanting to admit it himself. Not knowing how to. "But...?" Nathaniel encouraged. Zachary cleared his throat. "I can't believe I am about to say this." he muttered. "Your parents seem to have.../something/."
Nathaniel grinned. "Love." he said. Zachary shook his head. "They have very strong emotions towards the other." he said. Nathaniel laughed. "Yeah.../love/." he said. Zachary frowned, but it was hard to argue with Nathaniel's wistful grin.
Zachary told Katherine of dinner. Went over the details of how Mr. and Mrs. Greeley shared passionate glances across the table and had even held hands. Told her of the time Nathaniel's knee knocked with his, and the goofy smile on Nathaniel's face afterwards.
Katherine and sang of true love, and Zachary nearly cut the line. "So, who won the bet?" she asked. "No one...well...Nathaniel won for the most part." Zachary admitted. "I've never seen two people look at each other in that way. It wasn't even like a sappy romance movie. It was so pure." Katherine cooed and Zachary scoffed. "Well, goodnight then my dearest Katherine!"
"No, wait! What happened with he dropped you off?" she asked. Zachary really wanted to keep it to himself, but decided to tell her anyway. "He said he was excited for our arrangement, and that...that he really liked me."
Katherine was quiet for a while, and Zachary was grateful. "Katherine...is it true that you hardly know me?"
"Did Polly say that?" she asked, probably already knowing the answer.
"That is not the point, just answer." he urged.
Katherine sighed. "Zach, that's not true and you know it. I know you better than anyone."
"Than...tell me about myself." he commanded.
"Just...do it. Prove it to me." he said.
Katherine sighed again. "Okay, what do you want to know?" she asked. Zachary shrugged although she couldn't see him. "Everything." Katherine laughed. "Okay," she said, "uh... Well, for one thing you hate almost every food from public kitchens. You hate peas no matter how they are made. You don't like crude words like 'hate', 'retarded', or any word referring to homosexuality as an insult."
Zachary's smile grew as she went on. "You make fun of my writing although, I know you have a stash of romance novels under your bed-" Zachary frowned-"I know that you want to believe in love, but you've never really seen it in real life. You hate being told you're afraid. And in third grade you punched Patrick Eland in the face because, he said 'your mom'-and I know why-"
"Okay, okay. So, you know me. I get the picture." Zachary interrupted her, almost regretting ever asking in the first place, but than she said something that struck a chord in him. "I know love is real, Zach. Because, I love you. And your father loves you... Love isn't a lie."
Zachary tried to say something, anything, but he wouldn't hurt Katherine, and he wouldn't argue with her.
"Goodnight, Kitty." he traded for saying, and he took the silence from the other line as a good sign. Zachary never was one for nicknames, and Katherine knew that, so it coming from him meant so much more than a cheesy little nickname. It meant there was a feeling there and maybe Zachary wasn't ready to accept it as love, but Katherine knew it was a big step for him to take.
"Love you too." she whispered so softly she hoped Zachary hadn't hear, but he did. And when the line ended Zachary found himself without a single though in his mind, his eyelids heavy and drooping as he fell asleep.