So, I guess I had Naitlyn withdrawal. This is one of the longest one-shots ever, it took me forever to write and it's my 99th piece of work on this site – so I guess my Romeo and Juliet essay can take a break for now. This is a Writer's Choice for my 101 Prompts. It was originally mean to be the prompt for 'Spinning', but it didn't quite fit. I hope doesn't mind, seeing as she gave me that prompt... anyway, I hope you enjoy this (:
Nate Gray hated the word almost as much as he hated birdhouses (and, considering Jason's recent obsession, that was a lot of hate). Shane already had a date – he'd asked Mitchie and, considering they'd been dating for three months, she'd say yes. And Jason ... well, Nate didn't know what Jason was doing, but he'd probably ask Ella.
Nate, on the other hand, was certain that he was going without a date. In fact, up until yesterday, he wasn't going to go at all. Then his mom almost cried when he told her ("but this will be the only chance that all my boys will be able to go to the same dance!") and he'd decided that it wouldn't be that painful to go for an hour and then come home early. His brother's wouldn't notice anyway. Jason had the attention span of an overexcited puppy and Shane would be too busy trying to get the DJ to play a slow song so he could dance with Mitchie (Shane wasn't that good of a dancer, and slow songs were just about all he could cope with).
It was Wednesday, two days before the dance, and he was currently sitting on a table with Mitchie, Shane, Jason, Ella and Caitlyn, his best friend. They were discussing the dance, as they had been for the past week. Nate had slowly learnt to tune out when the topic came up, and was currently trying to guess what the mystery meat was while his friends talked about Homecoming. Again.
He blinked, realising that Caitlyn was waving a hand in front of his face.
"Oh, sorry." He apologized, sending her a questioning look.
"You aren't going with a date are you? To the dance?" She asked.
Confused, Nate shook his head. Caitlyn smiled triumphantly.
"See! I'm not the only one." Caitlyn directed this to the whole table.
"Nate's not going with a date because all the girls think he's too 'intense'. Last time he took a girl to a dance he wouldn't dance and didn't speak for most of it." Shane replied, laughing at the memory.
"Hey! I was fourteen!" Nate protested, remembering his first year at high school. The word awkward came to mind.
"Nate, it was two years ago. Hardly ages ago." Mitchie replied, giggling.
"How do you even know what I did at that dance? You were trying to get Gina Simmons to dance with you!" Nate said, glaring at his brother.
"Nate, I could hardly miss your sulking in the corner." Shane replied, crossing his arms and pouting in a way which obviously was meant to mirror Nate.
"I didn't look like that." Nate replied, before turning to Caitlyn."So Joey never asked you then?"
Caitlyn glared at him. "No. Joey did not ask me. Stupid jerk."
Nate shot her a sympathetic glance. Caitlyn had been crushing on the new guy, Joey, for a few weeks, and had been hoping he'd ask her to the dance. Nate had math with her and Joey and she'd been dropping serious hints. Did they have dances in England? Maybe he'd google it later.
"That sucks, Caity. He's stupid." Jason added, grinning supportively at his friend.
"Thanks Jase. I'm going dateless now, so I just wanted to prove I wasn't the only one. That's why I asked you if you had a date." Caitlyn explained.
"Hey, I have an idea! Why don't you and Nate go together?" Mitchie suggested, grinning like it was the best idea ever. Nate could assure her that it wasn't.
"I'm right here you know." He added, "I can hear what you're saying."
"Well then, you know it's a good plan! Ask Caity to the dance!" Mitchie cried, hi-fiving Shane across the table.
"Aw-kward." Ella sang, giggling at the glare both Caitlyn and Nate shot her.
"Aw, they're too chicken to admit their feelings." Shane cooed at Nate, ruffling his hair.
"I am not a chicken!" Nate grumbled. "My and Cait are just friends."
"They're both chickens!" Jason said.
"Jason! I thought you were meant to be defending us!" Nate cried, turning accusingly to his oldest brother.
Jason ignored Nate and started making chicken noises. Soon everyone on the table with the exception of Nate and Caitlyn was clucking along.
"Stop! I am not a chicken." Both Caitlyn and Nate cried at the same time, crossing their arms in sync.
"Prove it!" Shane said, that smirk on his face that screamed trickery.
"Caitlyn Geller, will you go to the dance with me?" Nate asked, locking eyes with Caitlyn.
"Yes." She replied seriously, nodding.
"Fine." He added.
"Fine!" She repeated.
"Good!" They both finished.
"Do I have to wear a dress?" Caitlyn asked, looking at Mitchie.
"Yes!" Everyone (minus Nate) cried out.
And that was that.
"We're going as friends." Nate said for the third time, pacing the room in his tuxedo. Although he was directing this statement at Shane, he might as well have been saying it to himself. Shane was too busy practising what he was going to say to Mitchie's mother, Connie.
"Hey Co- Mrs Torres. I'm here to pick Mitchie up for Homecoming." Shane was muttering under his breath as he put Nate's pacing to shame. This was the seventh time he'd passed the wardrobe in two minutes.
"Shane, haven't you eaten dinner with the Torres' for two years?" Nate questioned as he sat on the bottom bunk, his eyes following Shane.
"Yes, but this is Homecoming. It's a little different than 'please can you pass the spaghetti, Connie'!"
Nate stared at his brother for a second before bursting into laughter.
"Nate! You are not playing the role of the supportive brother well here! I'm worried that Mitchie will ... will ...." Shane stumbled over the words, waving his hands about for either dramatic effect (it wasn't working) or to look like a complete idiot (which Nate thought was working rather well).
"She's thinking nothing other than her usual thoughts. Which, by the way, consist of 'Shane is so wonderful, I love him!'" Nate put on a high girly voice as he imitated his brother's girlfriend, and let out a high pitched giggle at the end.
"I don't know if I should be flattered or scared that you think my girlfriend sounds like that." Shane mumbled. "Besides, shouldn't you be freaking out? This is your first date with Caitlyn."
"It is not my first date with her because it is not a date." Nate protested, crossing his arms and glaring at his (idiotic, completely ridiculous, spending too long in the bathroom) brother.
"But you're best friends!" Shane said, rolling his eyes as he straightened his tux for the fifteenth time. Nate, on the other hand, was left staring at his brother with a very confused expression on his face.
"Shane, being best friends has nothing to do with a first date. You can have a best friend that's a girl and not want to date her!" Nate really did not like to publically admit he was related to Shane at the best of times, let alone when he said things as ridiculous as this.
"Name three different-gender best friends who haven't dated or don't have feelings for each other." Shane said, smirking and watching Nate closely.
"Will and Grace."
"Will's gay. Doesn't count. Plus, they were engaged for thirty minutes. Everyone knows that."
"Everyone meaning you and other Will and Grace fans." Nate grumbled, hating to be proved wrong. He didn't even watch the show, but Shane was a huge fan.
"Will and Grace are awesome. Whatever, point is you can't think of anyone. Best friend's of different genders date at least once in their lives. And if not, one has feelings for the other at some point. Sometimes even both but they're afraid to admit it." Shane nudged Nate at this point, much to his younger brother's annoyance.
"We're going to be late. And I do not and never have had feelings for Caitlyn. I guess we're the 'exception' of your rule. Which isn't true, by the way." And with that Nate left the room, glad that he was meeting Caitlyn at the dance. If he picked her up then Shane would probably make up some other rule about best friends on doorsteps before going to homecoming.
Nate heard the music before Jason had even parked. It was a loud hit that had recently made the charts, and not one that Nate particularly liked.
"Thanks for driving me again, Jase. You still okay for taking me back or do you want Shane to?" Nate knew that being polite to Jason wasn't something he normally did, but considering it was either Jason or Shane being his ride home (Nate shuddered at the thought of being in a car with Shane for ten minutes while Shane went on about either Mitchie or Nate's secret love for Caitlyn) it was only fair.
"I don't mind. But I'll be staying the whole time, so if you want to go home earlier you might have to walk. Shane won't want to take you home when he can be with Mitch." Jason said happily, opening the car door and stepping out.
"Fine. Small price to pay, I guess." Nate grumbled, figuring that staying an extra three hours wouldn't be so bad. He'd be hanging out with Caitlyn anyway, and regardless of what Shane seemed to think, slow dancing was not on the agenda.
He followed Jason into the building and winced slightly as the music got louder with every step. He opened his mouth to make an excuse but Jason, without so much as turning, grabbed his arm and (practically) dragged him forward.
"You are not abandoning Caitlyn." Was the only explanation he got.
"I wasn't planning to." Sort of a lie. But Nate wasn't going to abandon her – instead he'd find her and politely ask (beg) to go anywhere but a hall of sweaty teenagers.
"Lighten up, Nate. For once." Jason mumbled, but Nate knew it was only because Jason hated being rude or mean, and in Jason's word, anything that wasn't a compliment or a nice exchange was rude.
"I do not need to lighten up. I'm a legend at parties!" Okay, now that was a lie.
"Oh, was it a party for the most serious person in America? Or the world? Or a book club meeting?"
Nate blinked, not sure when or where Jason developed the ability to joke around without mention birds and/or birdhouses.
"No! It was ... a party." Nate entered the hall quickly, making his escape from Jason by heading straight to the edge of the dance floor to scan for his best friend. He searched the hall for a minute without hope and was about to give up when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
"Nathaniel, why is Jason talking to Ella about you being at a book club party?"
He turned, coming face to face with Caitlyn.
"It was not a book club-" The words stopped in his throat because it's Caitlyn (that's not the shocking part) and she's wearing a dress. A white dress, with black satin ribbon around the middle and high heels. Nate is frozen for a few seconds, because this is different to anything Caitlyn has ever worn before and he needs time to adjust to the fact that he could be looking at his best friend as beautiful as a pose to ... well, just his best friend.
"Nate? Do I look bad? I told Mitchie this dress-"
"No! I mean," he swallowed, because shouting out his approval probably wouldn't help either of them "you look different."
Caitlyn's face falls at this statement. Nate isn't as good at this as he'd like to admit.
"No, not bad different! I mean ... you look pretty."
"Oh. Well ... thanks. Don't look so bad yourself."
There was small silence, and Nate debated between asking her if she wanted a drink or asking if she wanted to dance. Caitlyn saved him deciding. "You want to dance?"
Nate nodded, following as she took his hand and lead him to the dance floor. Unlike the movies, a slow song did not suddenly play through the speakers so that he would look at Caitlyn awkwardly before they danced and kissed and ran off into the sunset with happily ever after music.
Besides, that would prove Shane's point, and no matter how good Caitlyn looked in a dress, proving Shane wrong came first.
Oh, and Caitlyn's feelings.
Even if, really, Shane had already won. Because Nate was starting to think of Caitlyn as more than his best friend. Or maybe it was just the dress.
As they started dancing (well, Caitlyn danced, Nate shuffled) Shane and Mitchie approached the two. Nate groaned, knowing that if Shane had one thing in mind it was his stupid best friend theory.
"Hey, you guys." Shane greeted. "You look really nice, Caity."
Mitchie nodded her approval. "If I do say so myself, seeing as I suggested the dress!" She added.
"Forced," Caitlyn mumbled, but smiled nevertheless.
The four of them moved to the edge of the dance floor away from the swaying couples.
"Anyway, we found the perfect song for you guys to dance too," Shane said, ignoring Nate's pleading glances and 'if you wanted to keep your head on your shoulders you would shut the hell up' mutters.
"Oh yeah, shall we show them?" Mitchie asked, winking at both of them while Nate silently died and Caitlyn looked thoroughly confused.
"I think they've finally cracked," Caitlyn said, raising an eyebrow as Mitchie shuffled forward to be right beside Shane.
Before Nate could even realise what was happening, Mitchie started singing exceptionally loudly for someone so shy.
"Uh-oh, there you go again talking cineamatic,
Yeah you, you're charming, got everybody star struck,"
Nate was so shocked at this that he couldn't move. What the hell had Shane put Mitchie up to? He barely even glanced at Caitlyn, hoping that maybe she would tell Mitchie to shut up before the chorus, which unfortunately Nate knew from Shane's obsessive 'Hannah Montana' days three years ago. Which Nate had been blackmailed to shut up about.
"I know how you always seem to go,
For the obvious instead of her but get a ticket and you'll see,"
"Okay Mitchie, you can stop now people are star-"
"If we were a movie, you'd be the right guy,
And she'd be the best friend that you fall in love with in the end,"
Shane had joined in. His brother was singing a Hannah Montana song with his girlfriend that was aimed at Nate and Caitlyn. And they were pointing at Caitlyn too. As if the lyrics weren't obviously aimed at him and his best friend.
Nate had never wanted to be swallowed up by the ground so much in his life. Especially when, to his horror, Jason appeared with Ella and started laughing.
"Um, Mitchie, please –"
"In the end they'll be laughing, watching the sunset,
Fade to black, show the names, play the happy song, yeah."
Shane and Mitchie abruptly stopped, and to Nate's disgust the whole hall started to applaud (to embarrass him further, Nate guessed). Apparently they'd been listening to Shane and Mitchie's 'most embarrassing duet of the year'.
"You two might want to go." Nate growled, taking a threatening step towards Shane, who grabbed Mitchie's hand and ran as if his life depended on it (which it did).
Nate blinked, staring after the retreating figures. Ella and Jason headed to the punch table and soon enough the crowd was starting to dance again, diverting their attention away from Nate and Caitlyn.
The youngest member of Connect Three avoided Caitlyn's eyes as he turned to her, pretty sure his face was bright red.
"I am so sorry. I didn't know ... and that was ... I ..." He stopped mumbling, realising he sounded like a twelve year old.
"Nate ... what the hell was that?" Caitlyn asked.
Apparently the girly dress hadn't changed her personality much.
"I ... don't know." Nate lied, scratching the back of his neck as he watched his best friend give him the most confused look of her life.
"Wasn't that a Hannah Montana song?" Caitlyn said, scrunching up her nose in further confusion.
"I ... um, maybe? I don't really listen to Hannah Montana. Not my kind of thing."
Lying never has been his strong point, unfortunately. It wasn't his fault Party in the USA was so catchy.
"Nathaniel, I think you owe me an explanation. Otherwise I can just get it out of Shane, who, unlike his younger brother, will tell me what the hell is going on." Caitlyn's voice was getting louder, and she knew Nate hated attention - which was pretty ironic, considering his (okay, their) band was starting to get big.
"Fine! Shane has this ... theory." Nate, rather stupidly, thought that this would satisfy Caitlyn. It didn't. She looked at him expectantly, mimicking with her hand for him to carry on.
"He thinks" pause "that when you're best friends with someone of an opposite gender" pause "." He said the last part so fast that it was closer to throwing up the words rather than speaking them.
"I think maybe you should speak a tad slower," Caitlyn said, enjoying the discomfort Nate was in.
Nate glared at her, shuffling for a few seconds in a vain attempt to agitate her back. "I said that Shane's theory is that one best friend must have feelings for the other." There. He'd said it. Now Caitlyn could laugh at him and they'd forget all about Shane and his stupid theories and enjoy Homecoming.
Except Caitlyn didn't laugh. And, on closer inspection, she seemed to be blushing.
"Caitlyn, you're blushing." Thank you, Captain Obvious.
"No I'm not!" Caitlyn protested, her face going even redder at Nate's declaration.
"You are." Nate shot back.
"I am not blushing; it's just hot in here."
"That is a stupid comeback and you know it." Nate replied, grinning at the thought of Caitlyn blushing. First the dress, then the high heels, and now she was embarrassed?
"Unless," Nate said slowly, before it suddenly clicked, "you're blushing because you like me."
"I do not like you, Nathaniel."
Nate had known her long enough to know that when she used his full name she was trying to get him to go off track.
"You ... do like me!" Nate repeated, getting excited at the prospect that maybe he wouldn't have to admit his maybe-feelings without knowing anything about hers.
"What are you, twelve?" Caitlyn grumbled, crossing her arms.
"Would you like me to start chanting? 'Cause I will." Nate grinned, feeling pleased with himself. He was the smart one of the family, after all.
"You like me, you like me, you like me!" Nate chanted, as promised, his smile getting wider.
"Nate! You're embarrassing me! What happened to Mr. Serious and Moody?" Caitlyn's voice was dangerously close to whining.
"Sorry." Nate said, coming to a halt and ceasing his chanting. Maybe someone had spiked the punch. Then again, he hadn't drunk any punch ... so he'd have to blame something else for his sudden happy mood.
"Why don't we dance? Isn't that what we're meant to do?" Caitlyn offered, and without Nate so much as agreeing she walked onto the dance floor. Nate followed, in the clear because it wasn't a slow song, and instead a catchy dance number (that, thankfully, was not Hannah Montana).
A few hours passed and, before Nate knew quite how time had passed so quickly, the DJ made an announcement: "And this is the last song of the night for all you couple's out there!" The voice of the DJ echoed around the hall and both Nate and Caitlyn cringed.
"Cheesy DJ." Nate said, and Caitlyn nodded in agreement.
A slow song filled the hall and Nate looked away. He could hear Shane's voice in his ear: 'awk-ward'.
"Well, this could only be more awkward if Shane and Mitchie came back for another round of Hannah Montana." Caitlyn spoke up.
They both laughed and slowly the tension eased away. They were best friends after all – and after a while the 'are you two dating?' comments they were asked in the hallways got less embarrassing.
"You want to dance?" They both asked at the same time, and caused Caitlyn to blush (again). It must be a record, Nate thought, because she hardly ever blushed.
He took her hand and lead her to the dance floor, ignoring the over obvious wink Shane shot in his direction.
"I can't dance." Was the first thing he said when they found a spot.
"I know, Nate. I saw you try and do the Macarena at Mitchie's party last year," Caitlyn replied, grinning at the memory.
"Hey! Not fair! Besides, how hard can slow dancing be? It's just swaying..."
Apparently, for Nate, it was pretty hard as he gave up and let Caitlyn lead. She took his hands and placed them around her waist, rolling her eyes and pulling a face at how useless Nate seemed to be. Nate didn't retaliate, however, because the feeling he got with Caitlyn resting her head on his chest was pretty new to anything he'd felt before. Shane had often tried to describe how he felt with Mitchie, but after the first few seconds Nate had learnt to zone out. Now he knew exactly what Shane meant.
"This is nice," he said, making sure not to step on Caitlyn's toes.
"Yeah, it is. Never thought I'd say this, but you are a good date."
The word 'date' made Nate tense a little, but he relaxed when he realised that maybe the transition from friendship to dating would be one he wouldn't mind making.
The song ended and Caitlyn pulled away, smiling at him as they walked towards the edge of the floor. They were silent for a few moments as they watched the retreating couples.
"You need a ride home?" Nate asked, knowing that Caitlyn's brother, Jake, had dropped her off. "I'm sure Jason wouldn't mind." He added.
"You sure? I can get Jake to get me, it's no problem."
"I'm sure, come on." Nate took her hand and lead her out of the hall, hardly realising his hand-holding gesture until a few seconds later as the cold air hit them. He went to pull his hand away but Caitlyn tightened her grip, almost as if she was reassuring him that it was okay to hold her hand.
They reached Jason's car and Nate laughed to see Jason dancing to the radio.
"Sorry to interrupt, Jase, but is it okay if we take Cait home?" Nate asked.
Jason looked up, hardly fazed by being caught rocking out to the radio. "Sure, come on in lovebirds!" Jason shot a glance at their entwined hands, but Nate made no move to unlace their fingers.
"You can sit next to Jason if you want?" Caitlyn offered, knowing how Nate liked to ride shotgun. Nate agreed and removed his hand from hers, climbing into the car beside Jason, who, like Shane, winked in a very over the top fashion.
The car journey to Caitlyn's was quiet, other than Jason's pop radio, which Nate realised has way too many songs by Miley Cyrus and that chick who wanted a Love Story. By the time they reached Caitlyn's house Nate was about to bash the radio, but before he had a chance Jason nudged him, indicating they had arrived.
Nate got out the car, opening Caitlyn's door for her (his mother would be proud), and smiling.
Caitlyn thanked him and the two walked up to her doorstep. They stood in silence for a few seconds before Jason's shout interrupted them:
"I think this is the part where you kiss her!" He yelled from the car.
"Wow, way to ruin the moment." Nate grumbled, to which Caitlyn simply laughed.
"He's right, you know." She whispered, smiling softly, and if it wasn't for the slight twitch of her hand Nate would have said she was completely calm.
As he closed the gap between them, and Nate found himself closing his eyes, he realised that, for once in his life, maybe Shane was right.
But those thoughts were forgotten as soon as Caitlyn wrapped her arms round his neck and pulled him closer, and Jason shouted out a yell of congratulations from his car.
Other than Jason and his pop songs, Nate could get used to this.
And there you have it. My first Naitlyn in a while. Just to inform you guys – my next piece will probably be a chapter fic. I want my 100th fic to be something a little special, seeing as I hardly ever write more than a one-shot. The poll on my profile decides which one- and I'm probably going to leave it up for another week or so before I start writing the winning vote. So please go over there and vote! Thanks for reading!