Last Train Home
"Well, that's that."
Matt pushed the paper across the desk to the stuffy looking official who sat across from him. The man peered at the paper for a long time, so long that Matt heard Kate shift uncomfortably in the chair next to him.
"Everything seems to be in order. Your report will be submitted to the Sky Guard, and if your claim is found to be valid, it will be investigated as quickly as possible."
"Valid?" said Kate with great indignation. "It's not as if we don't have experience with pirates!" Matt didn't look at her but he would bet everything he owned that her nostrils were flared in anger. He tried not to smile.
The official peered over his glasses at Kate, eyebrows raised as if astonished that a woman would be speaking like that to him. Matt just watched in amusement. "Very well," the clerk said. "If your business is done, I would have to ask that you leave. I have matters to attend to." Kate looked as though she were about to retaliate and say something back to him, but Matt stood and pulled her with him.
"Looks like that's our subtle cue to go," he said. "Come on, Miss de Vries." Muttering under her breath, Kate stalked out of the room.
"I can't believe the nerve of that man! We're not just random people reporting that there are pirates on a small island in the Pacificus!" Kate was gesticulating angrily as they walked. Matt bit back his amusement. "I mean, how many people go out there in the first place?! And he should know who you are. Honestly, I – "
"Kate, love, calm down." Grinning and barely refraining from laughing, Matt took her hand. "We handed in the paperwork, it's all fine." Kate paused and looked down at their joined hands.
"You're holding my hand. In public." Her eyes were wide when she looked back up, the beginning of a smile hiding in the corners of her mouth. "You could get in a very large amount of trouble for that."
He smiled. "Well, I've decided I don't really care."
Matt jumped at both the slam of the door and at someone yelling his name. "Matt! Come here!!" He all but ran from the room, down the short hall and into the tiny foyer.
"What? What is it?" He had expected to find Kate covered in blood, or robbed, or something horrible. Instead, she was dressed in an impeccable grey suit, an unbelievably wide smile on her face. She threw herself at him when he appeared, hugging him tightly.
"We did it!!" He wrapped his arms around her, still confused.
"Did what? Why are you in my apartment? Aren't you supposed to be at the – oh." Realization hit him. "We did it? They recognized the cloud cats?"
Kate nodded, pulling back and nearly bouncing up and down. "They accepted the photographs – they were blurry but what can you do when you're trying not to be eaten? – as factual evidence, though it still took a lot of convincing. But the cloud cats are going to be recognized as a new mammalian species!" Her hands flew to her face. "My cheeks hurt from smiling."
Matt, who had remained frozen all through her outburst, now laughed. "I can't believe it. You did it, Kate."
"We did it," she replied, her eyes warm and locked with his. He put his hands on either side of her face and pulled her into a kiss. She grinned against his lips. When he pulled away, she grabbed his hand and laced her fingers through his.
"No," he started. "You did it, Kate. You're amazing."
"No," she said, even more firmly. "We did this. Together, remember?" Her head was tilted to the side, her lips curving up in a smile, her brown eyes playful. How could he ever disagree with her?
"Daddy – "
"Don't you dare 'daddy' me about this, Kate."
"Father, you are being completely unreasonable." Kate was gripping her own hands with white knuckles, her jaw clenched and her eyes fiery. "I'm a grown woman, a scientist, and I can make decisions for myself."
"Then why did you come here to ask my permission to marry this…boy." Matt hovered in the background, unsure whether he was brave enough to speak to Kate's father just yet. But Kate was squaring off with him over a small table in the study, seemingly fearless. Matt felt a bubble of adoration well in him. Did it never cease?
"I came here out of consideration. I don't need your permission to marry."
"Well that's good, because you certainly don't have it." Mr. De Vries shot a look at Matt before moving closer to Kate and speaking in an urgent, hushed tone that Matt assumed he wasn't supposed to hear. Or maybe he was. "He's no one, Kate. You had such a future ahead of you, even with the odd science. Breaking off your engagement to Landon was unbelievably unintelligent, but nothing can't be fixed." He put his hands on her upper arms and smiled. "Darling, let me talk to Mr. Fitzwalter. Everything could be right as rain by the morning if you would just forget this nonsense." Again, his eyes flickered to Matt.
"Sir, I may not have as much money as Landon Fitzwalter," Matt finally stepped forward. "But I have a ship and a business and I love your daughter more than anything. I will do everything in my power to keep her happy and safe."
Mr. De Vries went from fatherly to vicious in a split second. "You will not do anything, because you are not marrying my daughter." Kate suddenly tore free from his grip, which had grown quite a bit tighter on her arms.
"If I walk out of here right now with Matt, what would you do?" Her voice wavered, and Matt heard the questions she wasn't quite willing to ask. Would you let me leave like that? How much do you actually love your only daughter? He swallowed.
Stony silence fell over the large room. Kate's eyes were locked with her fathers', his gaze iron, hers willing him to accept. Finally, her father opened his mouth.
"I suppose you will have to find out."
Kate flinched as if he had struck her, and Matt personally felt like striking the other man at that moment. Anger flared in his chest, white hot, and he was about to say something when Kate whirled around, grabbed his arm, and lead him from the room.
He let her pull him outside of the house, but then stopped her. "Kate, Kate, hold on a second." She stopped, breathing hard and trembling, her eyes wide and glistening. Matt opened and closed his mouth. He couldn't think of a single thing to say to her.
"I can't stay here. We need to leave." She started to walk away, but turned back, and Matt saw a few tears slip involuntarily down her cheek. "May I stay with you? In your apartment?"
He sighed. "Kate, you can't live with me before we're married."
"Then let's get married."
"We will, I promise – "
"No," she interrupted. "I mean right now."
Matt stared at her and then stuck his hands in his pockets. "Kate, are you sure you're not just doing this because you're upset? Earlier you said you wanted to – "
"I was wrong." She grabbed his hands and stared up at him. "I was second guessing myself, but my first instinct was right. I can't be apart from you, Matt. I don't care what anyone else says, I'll do anything for you. To be with you."
Warm sunlight streaming into the small room woke Matt, and he blinked sleepily against the glare. Midsummer in Paris was unbelievably hot, and the tiny room was fast turning into a sauna.
Matt was about to stretch when he realized that his arm was pinned underneath something large and very warm. Looking over, he smiled. Kate was curled up next to him, her head pillowed on his arm, hair spilling across the white sheets. Her face was soft in sleep, mouth slightly open.
The early morning took on a very dreamlike quality for Matt. He leaned over and pressed his lips to her bare shoulder, his fingers gently running over her arm. She shifted in her sleep slightly, making a low noise in the back of her throat. Matt smiled and kissed her shoulder again, this time a little harder. Then he moved up her neck and to her cheek, the arm that wasn't pinned under her wrapping around her body and pulling her to him.
She woke then, making a small noise of surprised before smiling. "What are you doing, Matt? It's too early." Her hands went to his chest to push him away but he heard the smile in her voice and just pulled her tighter.
"Nope. Not too early. You're just delusional."
"Oh, delusional? Right. Well, you're done now," she said loftily, trying to roll away from him. He pulled her back again and she yelped and started laughing. "Matt, co – "
He kissed her then, and she went silent. Her body was soft and warm from sleep, her lips slightly chapped against his. He savored it, running his hand down her back. Her own arm went over his waist and she moved closer to him, and they were pressed fully against each other in the bed. Matt's hands roamed down her arm to her left hand. He pulled away despite Kate's noise of protest and kissed the gold band on her finger.
Her voice was fond. "Matt, you're doing it again." He pressed his lips to the metal again.
She freed her hand from his and tilted his head so he was looking at her. "Acting surprised that we're married." Quickly, she pressed a kiss to his lips. "We are. If we weren't, I very much doubt that we would be here right now." He snorted lightly and she grinned. The heady kiss she placed on his mouth made Matt's blood run hot, and he rolled so she was under him. She pulled back for an instant, but kept her face close to his, so they were breathing the same air. "But we are married."
"And you're mine," Matt whispered, staring into her warm brown eyes.
"And you're mine," Kate shot back, wrapping her arms around him.
He grinned. "Of course."
AN: Sorry, everyone, for taking so long! I was at a family reunion and my inspiration simultaneously dried up, so...yeah.
THANK YOU SO MUCH to every single person that wrote a review. I never expected this story to be this huge, or to garner so much attention, and I LOVE YOU ALL!! You made this story worth writing.
Oh, and the title of the epilogue comes from the song 'Last Train Home' by Ryan Star. This song is the inspiration for this entire story, so feel free to check it out! And thanks again, you all are the absolute best.