So 'discussionist' isn't a word. So sue me. You get the idea.
I don't own anyone you recognise. However, those you don't are mine. No infringement intended.
This story was never meant to have a chapter two, but someone, missIda I think (btw, thanks for the feedback) left me a msg saying she wanted something with Sandy and Kirsten. And I thought why not. Plus, I finished two assignments today, so this is my reward to myself! Please, please review. And let me know whether you want Kirsten to tell Sandy now, while they're still in college, pre-marriage, or if you want me to stick with the way it seems to be in the show and have her tell him later on (leading to a much, much longer fic if I don't skip ahead a bit from Berkley to present-day. Let me know what you want!)
This is a lot happier- much less angsty! Sandy POV.
"You left the party early last night, buddy. Come to think of it, so did the party girl. I wonder, just where did they go?" Sandy's flatmate, Gary leered at him, the lewd thoughts he was thinking animating his eyes. At 8am, the morning of a hangover, being leered at by an unfortunately less hungover, unshaven bachelor was not the best way to start the day. Sandy moaned, rubbed his hair, pushed it back. He needed a haircut, hadn't got around to getting one yet.
"I walked her home, we drank a bit more and then I walked back here. That's it." Sandy sat up in bed, grimaced as Gary opened the blind. The sudden shaft of sunlight reflected off a law textbook on the desk, right into his eyes.
"I'm sure. Anyway, we've gotta be down at the library in half an hour if we want to catch the Professor while she's there, ask her the criminal law questions so we can get the assignment done. Get up, get up! Daylight's burning!" Gary stumbled out of the room, returning a second later to get his towel. Sandy laid back down, mentally going over last night.
He'd seen her across the floor of the bar. She'd been surrounded, flocked upon, really, by people every time he'd wanted to go talk to her, say happy birthday at least. There seemed to be something different about her, something vulnerable, something wounded. Sandy had to admit it to himself; he was a nurturer at heart. But other than that, and other than her obvious beauty, she just looked… Well, indescribable, really. He had never really been attracted to blonde, California-looking girls before. Rebecca was dark-haired, Jewish, not as waif-like as Kirsten. He finally saw his chance to talk to her when Brad, a spoilt, rich water-polo type from the upper east side, was there. Sandy rounded up Gary to sidetrack Brad and made his move. He hadn't imagined she would look this vibrant up close. Even though they were in a bar, she smelt like fresh air and apples. She smiled when they shook hands, had him entranced right from the start when he looked into those deep blue eyes. He found himself tongue-tied, was coming out with stupid statements, more to make sounds and keep her there than to actually make sense. But she seemed to understand that- and she'd drank too much alcohol to be able to call him on it. When her phone rang, she jumped, nearly spilled her drink in his lap. They both shared a smile, and he took her glass as she pulled her phone out of her pocket.
"Excuse me." She said. He watched as she wove her way between people to get out of the bar. A heavy hand slapped his back.
"Sandman's making the move." Gary appeared at his side with a fresh beer for him, which Sandy gratefully took. He drained half of it thoughtfully.
"You could do worse." Gary shrugged. "Apparently, she comes from California. I'm guessing no tan line!"
"Do you know her?" Sandy asked, finishing his beer and slamming the bottle down on the table for effect.
"Nah, not really. Jude, Jake's girlfriend, is her flatmate." Sandy nodded again, started moving towards the exit, following the same path Kirsten had taken.
"Woot! Sandman's over and out!" Gary's voice floated across to him, drunk, loud and slurred. Sandy walked outside, looked around. She was standing against the wall, putting her phone away, crying. He wondered what could happen to make her cry. She looked like the sort of person who would have everything together, everything perfect. That's what she was, he realised, amazed it hadn't hit him before. She was perfect.
"So what made you cry on," he checked his watch, realised it was almost one, "your birthday?" She wiped her eyes, sniffed, looked up at him, vulnerable, wounded.
"It's my party, I'll cry if I want to." He allowed himself a smile, made some stupid reply before asking her if she wanted to go back in. She declined, and he felt like he'd been punched in the stomach. When she took his hand, and asked him to walk her home, he felt immediate relief. He'd known her for less than an hour, and she already had this much of an effect on him. He'd known- and thought he loved- Rebecca most of his life, and she'd never invoked such strong physical feelings in him. Kirsten asked him a question about his family, he made some reply, heard her laugh, felt her happiness leave an indelible mark on him. They'd walked slowly, her small hand linked in his, her slender fingers lazily interwoven with his larger ones. He'd never felt imposing, or terribly big before, but her small frame and delicate features made him feel like he was a protector of sorts, her guardian.
"So, you have family problems?" Sandy asked. Kirsten's eyes looked away, found something across the road to look at.
"Mainly my dad. He can be a pompous ass some of the time." She shrugged, corrected herself. "Most of the time." There was amicable silence again, until they reached a small, dark alleyway.
"This is me." Kirsten said. Sandy looked up the alleyway, saw a door tucked away to the side. He let go of her hand, shuffled his feet, unsure of the etiquette someone like her required after being walked to the door.
"Listen…" She started hesitantly, catching his eyes with hers. "Would you mind coming up? Not to do anything," she rushed the last few words, "but I could just do with some company. If that's okay." She looked down. Sandy didn't know if she expected him to say no, turn down spending more time with her. Was she didn't realise was that there was no way in hell he was going to do that.
"Sure." He couldn't keep the stupid grin off his face, and she smiled back at him, before rummaging through her bag for some keys.
Upstairs, he was amazed at the space.
"Great place." He commented. Kirsten nodded.
"Yeah, Jude found it, needed someone to move in. It was better than where I was before, and now I've got space for my art so…" She went into the kitchen, and he heard her rummaging in the cupboards. He moved over to where there was an easel set up.
"Oh my god," he muttered under his breath. There was the most beautiful sunset he'd seen painted there. Blues blended into darker charcoal, brilliant crimsons and vermilions dominated. It was a sad painting though, something about the way that the blacks invaded the frame, crowding the beautiful colours, threatening to turn them gray.
"Do you… do you like it?" Kirsten asked him. He jumped, unaware she had come to stand beside him.
"It's beautiful." Sandy said, turning to give her a smile. She was still staring at it, head tilted, mouth thoughtfully pursed. He wanted to kiss her then. Wanted to never stop kissing her, running his hands through her blonde hair. As if reading his thoughts, she reached a hand up to untie her hair, shook her head.
"I've poured some wine." She said, looking at him innocently. And that was just it- she didn't know the effect she had on men. She didn't realise her hair was wavy from being tied up, and now slid around her shoulders as if she was a roman goddess. She didn't realise that in the filtered light from the kitchen, all the hollows and planes on her face was accented, didn't realise her cheekbones stood out, highlighting those impossibly blue eyes. Just didn't realise she was the most beautiful woman he'd seen. He saw her flush as she noticed him studying him, tucked a strand of hair self-consciously behind her ear.
"Wine, you said." Sandy managed to saw, and she smiled at him, glad he hadn't prolonged the moment that was, for her, awkward and for him, life-affirming. He had to have this girl.
They talked about music- she was a sucker for Solomon Bourke, while he preferred what she called 'surfie music'. They talked about the trials of university life, the lecturers they didn't like, why it was better to shop at the markets on Saturday, rather than Sunday, because everyone knew that's when the real bargains were made.
"So, who was on the phone?" Sandy asked, knowing it was a risky question, knowing he might upset her, but needing to ask. Kirsten looked down at her glass, realised it was nearly empty, drained it too quickly.
"I'm sorry, you don't have to answer…" Sandy trailed off, wondering if she'd shut down on him. She seemed the type to do that, to just stop, distance herself. It was a coping mechanism his sister had. He never understood it, had always preferred things out in the open, where everyone knew, willing to talk about it, sort it out. That's probably why he was going to be a lawyer, and Kirsten was an arts student. The best artists always had retained angst.
"It was my boyfriend." Kirsten shook her head, corrected herself. "My ex-boyfriend. I haven't seen him for a few years, actually. We were together through high school… Broke up when we both moved… He just wanted to tell me he was going to marry a girl he got pregnant." Kirsten looked down at her hands, curled in her lap. Sandy hesitantly reached over, encased them with his own.
"I'm good at hugs, y'know." He said, gently pulling her over. She smiled at him, her eyes glistening, before moving over to let him hug her. She felt so feather light in his arms, as if he could squeeze too hard and she'd break. Her hair, he realised, was the source of the scent he'd come across in the bar. Her skin was warm and smooth, and he forced himself to think less amorous thoughts. His Aunt showing him her false teeth. His father, leaving the family. Kirsten was in a vulnerable state, not really ready for him to show her how turned on her was by her. Hopefully, that would come later.
She drew back, wiping her eyes. "Thanks," she said, trailing a small hand along his jaw. The light was behind her, haloing her hair, illuminating bare shoulders he would give his right arm to be able to trail hot kisses along. Cold shower thoughts, he reminded him. Cold shower thoughts. But her hand was resting on the back of his neck, her other hand pushing his hair back, her eyes searching his looking for… Whatever it was, apparently she found it, because within moments she was on him, kissing the breath out of him, applying her full weight to him which, he had to admit, wasn't very much. As abruptly, she pulled back.
"I'm so sorry," she started apologising, moving further down the couch from him, deciding that wasn't enough, standing up. "God, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it, I mean I did but…" She decided to cut herself off, and Sandy saw the raw embarrassment in her eyes. She was feeling bad about her ex-boyfriend knocking up his new girlfriend, and she needed something to make herself feel better. He understood this, realised he had just happened to be there. He ran a hand over his face, tried to regain some of his dignity, lose some of his passion before he stood up. Cold shower thoughts.
"It's okay, I understand," he said gently. Kirsten was looking everywhere but at him. He wanted to catch her eye, reassure her that everything was fine. She looked at him, managed a half-hearted smile in return of his.
"I'm going to go." Sandy said, knowing that now was the time to make his exit. As a child, he had mastered the trick of knowing exactly when to leave. When his father was breaking bottles in the kitchen, threatening to break them on anyone that came into view. When his mother got home, raging at the 'system', demanding someone to listen to her anger at a World that wouldn't change. When his sister had a fight with one or other boyfriend, and wanted to let him know that all men were arseholes. And now, after Kirsten had kissed him, then decided she didn't mean it. Now was definitely a good time to leave.
"I'm so sorry, Sandy. I really… I don't know." She shook her head. He walked over, carefully turned her face away from her and kissed her cheek. If it was the last time he was going to kiss her, he wanted her to remember him as a gentleman.
"Goodnight. Happy birthday," he said as he left. When he got to the street, he started walking towards his apartment in a daze, occasionally touching his lips to find them still tingling from her fierce kiss.
Sandy finally got out of bed, realising he didn't feel as bad as he'd first thought. It was probably just having to see Gary first thing, he reflected. He shook his head, wandered to the cupboard-sized kitchen and poured himself a strong coffee. Twenty minutes, two coffees, a shower and a bagel later, Sandy was back to feeling normal. Except that he couldn't get Kirsten out of his head.
"C'mon man, if we're late Joe and Kratz'll have her all asked out. She'll be over answering questions. C'mon!" As usual, Gary was overly enthusiastic while at the same time managing to project a sense of doom through his words. Sandy grabbed his bag and followed him out the door.
He was sitting outside the library a few days later the next time he saw her. She looked about the same as the million times he'd seen her in his head. He'd walked past the alley to her flat so many times he thought he'd wear the footpath down, but he never saw her.
She was about to walk past, listening to a guy who was obviously an intense discussionist. He was about to yell, stopped himself. Hell, what did he have to lose? Well, if she gave him a dirty look and walked away, he knew he'd be crushed. But then again, if she smiled…
"Hey, Kirsten?" He saw her look over, say something to the guy beside her, watched him walk off shaking his head.
"Hey." She walked over, dropped her bag and sat beside him.
"Sandy." Sandy reminded her of his name, knowing he'd be mortified if she didn't remember it, not wanting to give her the chance.
"I know." She said, smiled at him. If this was a cheesy movie, the angels would have just started singing, Sandy thought. He almost waited to see if they would.
"So, how have you been?" Sandy asked, knew he was asking a question that would scratch the surface.
"Yeah." Kirsten nodded, laughed as she realised that didn't answer it. "I've been okay, actually. To tell you the truth, just telling you helped."
"Well, I'm a good listener. Actually, I'm a better talker. You know, the whole law thing kind of demands a keen sense of rhetoric, but you caught me on a good day." Kirsten narrowed her eyes at him, before laughing again. The sight of her smile… Again, he waited for angels to start the hallelujah chorus. Again, nothing but the sounds of chattering students, birds, traffic.
They sat quietly for a moments, happy in the silence, before both tried to speak at the same time.
"Did you…" Kirsten motioned for him to go first, and he shook his head.
"Well." She said, and slid him a sideways glance that was pure honey. "Since this may be one of the only times I get to talk, you being a wannabe lawyer and all, I was going to ask if you wanted to get something to eat. I skipped breakfast. Need sustenance." Sandy felt the corners of his mouth lift, knew he was grinning stupidly, couldn't help himself. He'd been about to ask her to lunch, but had been sure when she started talking she was going to extricate herself from him and run off to some prior engagement.
"We all know uni students need sustenance. I know a great little pizza place. Looks like they hire people off the street. But they make great pizza."
"I'm guessing you've eaten there before and haven't died, so I'll take your word for it." He laughed at her words, stood up, offered his hand to her. She pulled herself up from the bench, and he let go of her fingers, but she held on more firmly, smiling up at him.
"Lead the way." She said, bag in one hand, Sandy in the other. Sandy reclasped his fingers, marvelled again at how small and delicate her hands were. Plenty of time for that, he told himself. It didn't look like she was going anywhere.