Letting the Other Shoe Drop

“I see it percolatin’ in yer eyes, every time you look at me,” Hal says lightly, “so maybe ya better just come out with it.” He leans one hip against Pen’s kitchen counter.

Claudia nearly drops the pitcher that she’s drying. Hal is scarily perceptive, even when he looks like he’s not paying attention. She sighs, and watches him wring out the dishrag with a little too much force, then set it aside– casually. A little too casually. His shoulders are stiff. He’s expecting something bad, and that’s not what’s on her mind at all. She remembered Hal saying that nobody who has seen all his shapes ever stayed. Now he’s looking at her like she’s changed her mind about wanting to be his. Looking at her like he was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

She puts the pitcher away, hangs up the towel, and tries to order her thoughts. He follows when she goes out the back door and onto Pen’s back porch. “Out with it, woman,” he orders, slumping down on Pen’s back steps, “you’re killin’ me here.”

She folds her legs under her and kneels at his feet. When she meets his eyes, they’re not impatient, they’re uncertain, resigned. She hopes that this goes a lot better than he seems to think it will.

“You know, we haven’t known each other very long at all–”

“When I told ya that I loved ya, I meant it.” Hal says with finality. Despite his firm tone, he says it like it won’t matter to her. But it does. Of course it does.

“I want to stay with you, Ogimaa.” It comes out in a rush. “I mean, I want to come and live with you. I drive Estelle nuts, you know I do, and Steve’s helped us put Pen’s house back together again. The Aunties seem to think that it’s a good idea, they need help over there with the tiggers–” She stops, breathes.

“I’m in love with you, Hal.” The words sound surreal to her. She’s never said them to anyone before. Now that she thinks about it, no one’s ever said it to her, either. No one except Hal.

The uncertainty on his face dissolves, just like that, right in front of her eyes. He grins. “Then come home with me tonight. To stay.”

===

I know, this is kind of fluffy, but I just can’t resist. Can’t have too much pr0n without the romance, can we??

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