Title: A Little Interference Goes a Long Way
Author: Kahlan the Dream Spirit
Summary: Milligan can't take his eyes off of Rhonda, and it goes the same vice-versa, yet neither knows one likes the other. So, Constance decides to take things into her own hands, and enlists Kate and Reynie's aid. Rhonigan, Kaynie. Rated for kissing.
Word Count: 6,541
A/N I've had the idea of Rhonigan (Rhonda x Milligan) for a while now, but could never figure out how to write it. Then I listened to the song Take Me Home Tonight by Eddie Money and saw all of the... extensive Kaynie fanfiction, and decided that The Mysterious Benedict Society needed another fandom. So I turned on the song and began writing. I surprised myself by putting in more Kaynie than I thought I would. Here's the result. Enjoy!
She is beautiful.
Her figure, her way of doing things, the way she worries and frets over Kate, Reynie, Constance and Sticky as if they are her own children, the way she is so carefree and light yet at the same time serious... Even the way she laughs is beautiful, and to his great delight she laughs often. She is small, petite, but one of the strongest people he has ever met. She is rivaled only by his daughter.
He often makes excuses to go with her on excursion days; either he says that he wants to observe suspicious activity, or that a certain material he needs is in the store she is going to, or other things like that. Once he said that he was going birdwatching. Kate laughed when she saw him blush, but she didn't question his tactics. She has a secret too, one that she believes only her father knows about. He wishes he could help her, but that's a mother's job.
She doesn't have a mother.
Milligan wants to change that. He has wanted to change it for years – but he can't find anyone. He is afraid of what Kate will think. He is afraid that he will be betraying Emily's memory by remarrying. Kate laughs, and insists that her mother wouldn't mind; after all, Emily is dead. Yet Milligan still feels loyal to her.
But even Milligan cannot deny that when Rhonda Kazembe smiles, she lights up his entire world. He cannot deny that she is the kindest woman he has ever met. She is ten years his younger, yet he knows that he cannot ignore her. He smiles at her, hoping that he isn't being sheepish, and she unsuspectingly smiles back.
She is kind, sweet, caring, and humorous, – all things that appeal to Milligan. Kate seems to like her, too. Of course he would never do anything without his daughter's permission, but he knows that if he could only tell Rhonda how he feels about her, everything would be fine.
And so he tries. He sneaks into the library, where she reads into the small hours of the morning, only to find her asleep in her chair, the lamp still on and the book over her knees. There is a slight smile on her face, and he hopes that she is dreaming pleasantly. Not daring to wake her, he switches off the light and carefully sneaks out again. He just about melts at the sight of her, so tiny in the huge chair.
He attempts to talk to her at the supermarket when she goes shopping – he insists on accompanying her, even though Curtain is long gone. He pushes the cart, runs to fetch things, anything to make her happy, for he loves and delights in her smile. It reminds him of stars in the night sky.
He goes into her office while she's working, asking if he can fetch her anything or service her in any way. He does so carefully, always hoping to talk to her yet never approaching the subject. She smiles, unaware, and tells him no, thank you, she can take care of herself. He nods, slightly disappointed, closes the door and goes to find his daughter.
He looks first in the library, where Sticky is reading. Constance is supposed to be napping in her bedroom, but Kate and Reynie are nowhere to be found. He walks over to the window. It's gray outside, unfortunately, but the scene that evolves in front of him makes him immediately ignore that fact.
He happens to glance down at the backyard, and his face breaks into a smile. His daughter is with Reynie on the far edge of the garden, despite the cold – she thinks that no one can see them wrapped in each others' arms. They are young, but for some reason Milligan doesn't mind as much as he would normally. He still feels overprotective of course, but confronting his daughter scares him slightly. He'll handle Reynie, of course – but Kate needs a mother. And he considers Rhonda again.
Milligan sighs and turns around, his hands in his pockets as he leaves the library. He wants Rhonda so badly, but will she take him? He wants her to know, he wants her to see that he is in love with her. It seems easy when he watches Kate and Reynie, spending as much time as possible in each others' company. They seem to know what they're doing. Milligan knows from his romance with Emily that it isn't easy, not at all.
Constance toddles past him on her way down the hall. She catches him daydreaming, and while he scrambles to collect himself, she doesn't even bother to stop as she says, "Take a picture. It'll last longer."
She sees his advances. She knows why he accompanies her to the store, follows her to the library, pokes into her office at the most random times – it makes her blush, and she is glad no one will see. Otherwise her face would be red all of the time.
She wishes that he would simply get on with it and ask her to dinner – she thinks that that would be a good place to start. A simple dinner at a simple restaurant, nothing big. But Milligan, the secret agent who would never back down from anything, is shy. Shy of her! Rhonda laughs quietly, but not at him. She laughs at the fact that the bravest can be more timid than a mouse. It took Kate months to wise up to Reynie.
Rhonda stares off into space, daydreaming of what a date with Milligan would be like. She, of course, would want it to be perfect, but realistically Milligan isn't the most graceful ever; at least, not when he isn't fighting for his life. Kate is different. She has a woman's grace and a man's daring; a woman's charm and a man's gusto. Rhonda would be proud to have her for a daughter, even if she was only a step-daughter. She would still love Kate as much as possible.
Constance walks into the office, yawning as she pushes open the door. Rhonda, by force of habit, dons a pretense of being hard at work, not wanting to be caught daydreaming. Constance stares at her with large, icy blue eyes that are glossy and clouded from sleep. "Rhonda?" she says groggily.
Rhonda purses her lips before answering. "Yes Constance? Do you need something?"
The child yawns again. "Yeah. I need you to know that you should just take matters into your own hands."
Rhonda blinks, and drops all pretenses assumed. "I'm sorry, Constance," she says, "I don't quite catch your meaning."
"Really," says Constance, and plops down into a chair. She leans forward – the distance is almost too far for her to span – and rests her hands on the table in a very business-like manner. "I had to do this once with Kate, and now you, too? What is this world coming to?"
Rhonda smiles. Constance has heard Number Two say that one too many times. "Do what with Kate?"
Constance yawns yet again – either she is very tired, or feigning disinterest – and says, "Kate liked Reynie a lot. Reynie liked Kate a lot. But neither of them bothered to find out if the feeling was mutual. I had to go back and forth trying to get them together." She points this out as if it was the most tedious thing in her life. Then she cocks her head and acknowledges, "They paid me well."
Rhonda nods thoughtfully, wondering how in the world a five-year-old – even one as extraordinary as Constance – would know of these matters. Of course, everyone had known that Reynie liked Kate – his feelings tend to display themselves in his eyes, and when they are particularly strong, his countenance and emotions. Kate however... Kate is hard to read, like Milligan, except that she knows how not to make a fool of herself.
Constance leans backward in the chair and plays with a thread loose from the stuffing. "Look, I know that Milligan likes you. Everyone in the house does. But what you feel about him, only I know. So, I'm just gonna say this: take matters into your own hands and get him to take you out. Otherwise, it's never gonna happen." Constance hops down from the chair and toddles toward the desk, where a small bowl filled to the brim with M & Ns resides. She takes a few and shoves them into her mouth, then snatches the entire bowl and stalks away with it.
Rhonda laughs at this childish display, ironically situated after a somewhat serious moment. It's times like these that make putting up with Constance worthwhile.
But she sighs. Despite her strong character and willingness to do nearly anything, she knows that she will never work up the courage to talk to Milligan and ask him to take her "out." She wishes that there was just an easier way; that confiding to someone you like immensely wasn't so absurdly awkward.
Constance knows that Rhonda's not going to take matters into her own hands.
As the young girl leaves Rhonda's office, candy bowl in hand, she looks carefully down both halls and listens. She hears nothing and shoves another handful of chocolate sweets into her mouth, then turns to her right and toddles down the hall, looking for all the world like she is in charge of everything she can see. When she wants to, Constance can see so much it is uncanny.
She gets to the end of the hall and precariously navigates the stairs, trying to get down reasonably quickly without knocking down any of the various stacks of books or dropping the M & Ns. This proves a much more difficult task for the young girl than it would at first seem, and halfway down she is stopping for a rest, sitting on a stair and eating more of the candy. She vaguely notices that it looks less full that it had seemed when she grabbed it, and resolves to tell Rhonda that she needs to refill her candies more often. "It's flabbergasting to leave it there empty," she says, and congratulates herself. She learned that word from Miss Perumal.
After her "short" rest, Constance stands, dusts off her red dress, and resumes her long trek downstairs. After clearing that flight and the next one, the bowl is nearly depleted, and she begins to search for Kate and Reynie. They are nowhere to be found on the first floor, however, and she knows that they aren't on the second floor, as nothing terribly important is there: just Rhonda's, Number Two's, and Mr. Benedict's bedrooms.
A sudden thought crosses Constance's mind, and she smiles like the Cheshire Cat in a strange mixture of delight and disgust at what she is about to do. Still grinning, she heads to the back door, not bothering to stop to put her jacket on. She reaches up to try and open the door only to find it locked. Constance glares at the locking mechanism. Of course Kate would know that only Constance would dare bother her, and she knows how to make the lock stick so that the small girl can't get through. Constance eats a few more candies, considering how to work around this, when her eyes land on a potentially helpful source:
Sticky Washington is sitting in a chair in the next room, reading an exceptionally long and obviously boring book. He's trying to look absorbed in the volume, but Constance can see his eyes peering at her from over the edge, the book obscuring a smile that was probably laughter directed at her efforts. She is immediately mad at him.
"Get up off your rump, George Washington, and wipe that smile off your face. Come help me with this lock," Constance says in a superior tone, looking down her nose at him though he is taller than her, even sitting. How Constance manages this is a secret known only to her. She is talented in more ways than one.
Sticky rolls his eyes. "Tell Reynie that I'm challenging him to a game of chess. Stakes are dishwashing duty for the next week," he demands of her, refusing to move until she promises to. Grudgingly, she does. He puts his book down and stands up. He unlocks the door and slides it open for her, closing it back when she is through.
Constance shivers in the chilly October air, wishing she'd remembered her jacket. Hoping that more sugar will make her warmer, she takes a few candies and heads for the back left corner of the garden.
She manages to sneak up on the two teenagers as she comes from the side and through the bushes. Constance resists the urge to feign throwing up at the sight of them kissing. Instead she grins, and says, "You might want to watch the action, there's children watching." Kate lets out a little squeal and falls onto the bench situated against the fence. Reynie is not so fortunate, for when Kate lets go of him he falls onto the ground, landing on his rump in the mud. Constance laughs. Kate glares daggers at her, her eyes swearing murder.
"You'll pay for this, Connie-girl," Kate says, deliberately using Constance's most loathed name. Constance stops laughing immediately.
"Don't call me Connie-girl, or I'll tell Milligan about what you two were doing." Allowing this threat to sink in, Constance reaches for more candies only to feel the glass of the bowl, warm from her hand clutching it. She feels around a little more, searching for rogue M & Ns, but finds none. She looks down at it and sees her pudgy red hand underneath the glass, smeared with chocolate. "Drat," she whispers. Slightly disappointed, she looks back at Reynie and then Kate, seeing how they processed the threat. Reynie is concentrating on getting dirt off of the seat of his pants. Kate is still glaring, though there is a trace of fear behind her fierce, cerulean eyes.
"You wouldn't dare," she whispers menacingly.
Constance shrugs indifferently. "Do you want to find out?"
Kate backs off, though she clearly still plans revenge. Constance resolves to watch herself from then on. "Anyway, I have a plan -"
"What kind of plan?" Reynie asks warily. "The last time we got involved in one of your plans, I almost burned to death."
Constance remembers the scene fondly. Truth be told, Kate had tackled Reynie in order to put the fire out "properly" and ended up on top of him, both giggling like mad. "That went exactly as I had planned it," she says, not bothering to add that the whole burning to death part hadn't been considered during her plotting. "And anyway, you were supposed to kiss him after that, Kate."
Kate arches one of her eyebrows, giving a perfect rendition of Milligan when he is confused yet acting indifferent at the same time. "How do you know that I didn't?"
Constance doesn't mention that she'd been watching the whole time.
"Anyway," the young girl says, changing the subject, "this time, nothing should go wrong. I want your help in getting Milligan and Rhonda together. Now, Reynie is really good at forging handwriting, right?"
Reynie shrugs. "I guess."
"And Kate is good with sneaking."
Kate grins. "That I am, Connie-girl. That I am."
Constance glares at her. "Don't call me Connie-girl. – So, what I want you two to do is this -" she proceeds to relate her plan in whispers to them.
Kate whistles when she's done. "Gosh, Constance. How do you know that'll even work?"
Constance gives her the signature Cheshire Cat smile again. "Trust me. I know patterns."
"What does any of this have to do with patterns?" Reynie asks.
Constance gives him an Oh-My-Gosh-I-Can't-Believe-You're-Missing-This look. "I'll explain when we pull it off. Now, get the stuff we need and report back here." As they dash off, she adds, "And no detours to a deserted room! I don't want any delays here."
Kate turns, glaring and trotting backwards at the same time, but she flips around and slows down until she's in pace with Reynie, giving him a swift peck on the cheek. Then she runs off into the house.
Constance sits down on the bench that Kate had occupied a minute ago, not quite believing what she had seen. Kate wasn't the type of girl to go crazy over boys, she knew, but she hadn't known that secret agent-in-training was capable of being so... so feminine.
At the moment, the psychic really wishes that she had a jacket and a bowl of candy with her.
There are precisely seven rooms in the Wetherall apartment, not including closets. When you go in through their front door, you come into the sitting room, which is occupied by one bookshelf, a chair and a sofa, and a coffee table (all of which are mismatched). There are also various safes and secret compartments containing more safes and secret compartments, books listing the combinations for all of those safes and secret compartments (all written in various codes, of course), a book on decoding the codes (also written in code), another book for deciphering those codes (written in plain English), and a vase containing a dying sunflower. The walls have been painted green, and the wall hangings and furniture all have some sort of green theme to them.
On the immediate right you go to the kitchen, painted yellow. The kitchen leads to Moocho's room, who insists on sleeping near there. No one knows what this room looks like, though rumor decrees it is filled with cooking manuals (written in code), a chemistry book (written in hieroglyphs), a book for decoding hieroglyphs (written in code), and a laptop computer with which he is writing a cookbook, protected under various passwords and locks.
On the left is the bathroom, which hasn't got anything special about it (except a shower head that detaches from the wall), and Kate's bedroom, which resembles Kate in every way: it is very simply organized, and extremely clean. Its walls are painted red, the coverlet is red, the bed's wood is white, and the carpet is a sort of beige. The curtains on the wall are white, and the dresser is painted a dark chocolaty brown. She has a bookshelf containing all of her books, including her oldest one: an abridged copy of Robinson Crusoe, which Kate claims dates back to before her circus days. Underneath her bed (contained safely in a cardboard box that is falling apart at the corners) is a notebook from L.I.V.E. that she almost never uses, a ballpoint pen that she found in Spain, and a bit of wiring from the Salamander, along with several other souvenirs from her various adventures. She has her own bathroom, too – so that she doesn't have to share with two men.
At the back is Milligan's room, which is like Kate's in organization and styling except that the main color is blue. Inside contains everything an ex-secret agent could possibly own: all sorts of codebooks and regular books written in code and guides to spying without being caught (written, of course, in code).
Call the Wetheralls paranoid, but Milligan's motto is "You can never be too careful," to which Kate retorts her own motto "What could possibly go wrong?"
Lots of things tend to go wrong.
When Milligan walks into the apartment (situated in what used to be Mr. Benedict's maze) that evening, his daughter Kate is lounging on the sofa – her legs up on the back of the couch and her head on the floor – attempting to read upside-down. This sight would be strange to some people, but when one has lived with Kate for as long as Milligan and the rest of the Society have, it's abnormal any other way. When she hears him come in, she puts her book down and greets him cheerfully, her smile very dazzling. Milligan has to smile back when he realizes that she doesn't know he saw her with Reynie earlier. He decides to talk about it later.
Milligan walks into his bedroom and tosses his jacket onto the foot of his bed. As he collapses back onto it, debating how to talk to Rhonda without making a complete fool of himself (something that all secret agents must swear against doing), he finds his answer in a crackle as he settles back. Frowning, he listens, but can't hear it at all now. Experimenting with what might have caused the sound, and moving his hand automatically to the tranquilizer gun that he always carries with him, he shifts on the bed and sits up. There it is! he thinks. The mysterious crackling noise. He whirls around, pointing the gun towards the far wall where he thinks he heard it. But nothing's there.
That's when he notices a small white square, crumpled from his weight, sitting on the bed with his name written on it. He picks it up and analyzes the handwriting: it appears to be Rhonda's. Milligan gets rather excited now, but doesn't show any physical change. He slowly, carefully tears the seal on the envelope and pulls the message out. Dear Milligan, it reads.
I was wondering if you'd like to meet me at 3507 Stonetown Parkway tomorrow night at eight o'clock. I'm sure you're familiar with the place; we've passed it on the way to the supermarket several times now. It's not formal, I suppose – formal doesn't seem quite right when going on a first excursion.
No reply necessary. If you don't want to, I'll understand.
With all due respect and formalities,
P.S. Please don't mention this. You can tell Kate, if necessary, but tell no one else.
Has she just asked what Milligan thinks she's asked? His heart soars for a moment before he remembers to check for forgery. He examines the handwriting carefully and compares it to a sample of Rhonda's handwriting (a grocery list). He can't find a single flaw with it, and decides that she must really want to meet with him.
His next thought is what will I wear? He opens his closet and gazes through; nothing particularly striking stands out. He supposes that he'll have to settle for one of his disguises...
Or he can ask Kate.
On hearing her name called, Kate lifts herself off of the couch and onto her hands in an amazing feat of strength and walks quickly into Milligan's room. Once there, she flips rightside-up again. "Yeah, Milligan?"
Suddenly Milligan's tongue is tied. He doesn't know what to say, and tries to feign deafness until he can think of something. Kate simply smiles knowingly and grabs the note. Color rises into Milligan's face, but he manages to dispel it before his daughter notices.
Kate isn't laughing. Instead, she seems to understand his predicament perfectly; how he has no idea. She simply puts the letter down on the nightstand and steps lightly over to the closet, examining its contents with a scrutinizing eye. Milligan stands there for what seems the longest time, waiting for her to make up her mind. He doesn't quite understand what she's doing, but he processes that Kate is a girl, and girls are good at this sort of thing, so he trusts her entirely. The only thing that worries him – and this doesn't strike him until just before she shows him her selection – is that Kate dresses and accessorizes for comfort and efficiency, not so much for looks.
But his fears are quickly dispelled. Kate selects a suit stolen from a Ten Man, a pair of shoes from a dancer's outfit, a tie that he can't remember getting (and that is hopefully not a whip in disguise), and a regular white button-up shirt. Laid out on the bed, it all looks excellent together. Hopefully it will do the same on him. Kate looks at him expectantly.
"Well?" she asks.
"Thank you, you've done quite satisfactorily," he says automatically, thinking that this is what she's asking.
But he's wrong. Kate laughs and says, "No, I want you to try it on, for crying out loud. I can't know that I'm a genius if I can't see that genius on display. Reynie and Sticky might, but I can't."
She's not meaning to be arrogant, only playful. He tugs on her ear ("Ow!") and ushers her out of the room so that he can change.
When he emerges again, Kate looks him over critically, a strict poker face on her countenance. She puts her hand to her chin and observes every aspect of her father. She nods slowly. "M-hm, I'm a genius. You look great, Milligan," she says, and winks, smiling again.
Milligan breathes a sigh of relief, then asks if he can take it off.
Kate laughs and almost says, "Knock yourself out," when she remembers that when Milligan has the best of intentions he always ends up in the hospital for months at a time. So she nods, and instead says, "'Course you can. Just remember: if I see any blood on that suit and if you end up in anywhere resembling a doctor's office in the slightest, I'm not speaking to you for a week."
"What if I'm not the victim?"
"Then I'll give Constance my dessert," she replies. Milligan laughs.
"Can I hold you to that?"
She shoves him back into his room. "Of course," she says. "I've never been in a hospital without you being the reason I'm there."
"Surely you haven't forgotten the day you were born?"
"That doesn't count since it wasn't my fault."
"What about when Mr. Benedict insisted on the H1N1 vaccine?"
"Still doesn't count."
"Or when you fell out of the tree in the backyard and fractured your -"
"Okay! I get your point. Just don't end up in a cast," she says in a motherly tone, but she's grinning widely. Kate knows that she's been in the hospital an equal amount of time as Milligan.
Milligan smiles as he thinks of the countless other times they've been in the hospital together. "Ending up with a doctor at least once a month is the family business. You can't deny your ancestry, Kate."
"Not with you for a dad. Get going already, dinner's done in five minutes, and I have to go get ready," Kate says, giving him one final shove and dashing off to her room.
"... Reynie's coming, isn't he?"
"Of course! He only lives across the hall."
The next day, Milligan arrives at La Dellatona at precisely eleven minutes to eight, waiting outside for Rhonda, and frantically alternates between checking his watch and looking for her. At the moment, it appears that his worst fears are coming true: she didn't care enough to show up. He thinks that he looks like an idiot, standing there waiting for someone who isn't going to appear. So he does his best to look as if he belongs there; he keeps his sunglasses on (though the sun is going down) and keeps a poker face.
As he's looking for the twentieth time in half as many minutes, he finally sees Rhonda coming in his direction, looking very nervous. She looks lovely wearing jeans, high-heeled boots, a beige scarf and a white turtleneck sweater. Her hair isn't in the traditional braids; instead she's taken it down and it flows beautifully down her back. She walks with her arms tucked into her elbows, obviously trying to keep the cold at bay. She looks nervous, but brightens considerably when she sees Milligan. He stands up straight and takes off his jacket, desperately trying to remember Kate's last-minute coaching, not the least of which is to keep his wits about him and breathe normally, something he's having a problem with.
"Hi," she breathes as she looks up at him. He vaguely notices that standing in front of her should be odd as Rhonda is shorter than Kate (who will be as tall as Milligan, but isn't), but he doesn't mind. All he can think about is that she has come. She's actually met him at a restaurant.
"Hello," he replies.
"I got your note," they both say at the same time. Then confused, they say, "My note? What do you mean?"
Milligan could kick himself as he realizes what's happened. "It was Kate, I'm sure of it," he says, mad because he really doesn't mind.
Rhonda shakes her head. "No, I think it was Constance."
"Well, neither of them can imitate handwriting so perfectly. I checked and re-checked, and compared it to your grocery list."
Rhonda chuckles. "You saved my grocery list?"
Unsure of what to say, Milligan changes the subject. Evasive maneuver: generally a good idea. "It must have been Reynie. Have you seen him write?"
"Of course!" Rhonda exclaims, smiling broadly. "Perhaps it was a combination of all three. Constance came up with the notes, Reynie wrote them, and Kate delivered." Milligan can see that she's trying to frown, but doesn't succeed. "They shouldn't have tricked us like that."
He shrugs. "It did get us here, however. I highly doubt that nothing short of a life-or-death situation would have given me the courage to ask you myself."
Rhonda grins, despite the many ways his remark can be taken, and her black eyes twinkle with delight. "That means you would have asked me very soon, right?"
"If you consider my past missions, then yes." He smiles back at her, and offers his arm. "Shall we take advantage of this anyway? Now that we're here, and everything. I have money," he adds, hoping that she'll say yes.
She puts her arm through his. "I'd love that," she says. After all, the awkward bit of asking is over, and now all they have to do is the thing itself.
Soon they're chatting and laughing like they never have before. Milligan realizes that there's a lot about Rhonda that he didn't know, and welcomes the information greatly. Rhonda listens with fascination and interest as Milligan recounts Kate's stunts at the farm they had lived at for a year. She is an excellent audience – she laughs with delight and gasps in horror in all the right places, and Milligan finds his cool, self-contained exterior slip away. He is feeling naturally comfortable around Rhonda Kazembe. Who knew, and much more importantly, who cares? He is having the time of his life, and he delights in knowing that Rhonda is, too.
They reach a silence, eventually: one of those dreaded awkward silences that couples everywhere are doomed to. Rhonda picks at her food, already full but unsure of what else to do, and Milligan takes a sip of water. They both rack their brains for a subject to suggest. Unable to think of anything, Rhonda goes with the old cliché. "Dreadful weather," she says.
"Oh yes, terrible."
"I quite agree."
Then they are silent again. Wouldn't it be something, Rhonda thinks, if someone had a list of topics that you could suggest whenever you hit an awkward silence? But then, she continues, wouldn't it be something if french fries were good for you?
Something strikes Rhonda, so she decides to go for it and says, "Mr. Benedict is thinking about holding more tests."
Milligan nearly spits his water out, he's so surprised. After almost choking, he manages a hoarse "What?"
Rhonda shrugs. "I don't really know. I heard him talking about it with Number Two, and they said that maybe we should hold more tests. They want Kate, Reynie, Sticky and Constance to have more children of their own... em," she stumbles, trying to find the right word to describe exactly what they might need more of, "status, shall we say?"
Milligan stares down at his plate, wondering if Rhonda is serious. "Kate says that she and the others are fine by themselves."
Rhonda nods vigorously. "Yes, I know, and I believe her. Yet I can't help but wonder if they ever get lonely. I know that Kate and Reynie... well, keep each other company now, but what about Sticky? Since Reynie began to spend more time with Kate, Sticky's been spending more and more time in the library on his own. And Constance? She's discovered a matchmaking trait. She got Reynie and Kate together, and -" Rhonda stops there, unsure of whether or not to go on. Milligan doesn't force her, because he doesn't know if it's true either, but both would love to hear her say those words. "And Constance is only five. She needs a child her age. She's had to grow up far too quickly."
Milligan nods. "I see what you mean," he says. Then he looks up at her. "If Mr. Benedict decides that it's significant, he'll tell us. But tonight," he adds, smiling mischievously – Rhonda can clearly see where Kate gets it from, "is about us."
She laughs as Milligan leans forward, and leans in to meet him. This is by far the best night of my life, she thinks.
Kate looks at the clock on her bedside table. It reads ten minutes to eleven, and Milligan isn't back yet. She smiles, and knows that he's likely to be on time if it's taken this long. He promised her that he'll be back around eleven, and Kate does not intend to miss anything.
She climbs out of her bed, the cold air hitting her bare arms and startling her. She walks over to her closet and pulls out her bathrobe, shoving in first one arm, and then the other. She ties the belt in a knot around her waist. Then, satisfied that the cold cannot get to her, she slips the hairtie off of her wrist and pulls her hair up. She is going to be waiting for longer than sixty seconds, meaning that she needs her ponytail.
Being careful not to make a sound – she doesn't want to wake Moocho – she creeps across her bedroom and into the sitting room, and crouches in the armchair. A heater is just above it, and it feels pleasant in that spot. Kate begins to feel drowsy, and almost falls asleep again, but she shakes herself awake. In need of something to really wake her up (and not having the faintest idea how to make coffee), she walks over to the refrigerator and pulls out a bottle of gingerale. She pours some into a glass, puts the bottle back, and takes a drink.
No carbonated drink is made without sugar, and gingerale is no exception. After a few sips, she is feeling much more awake. Kate glances at the clock above the stove. It is now two minutes to eleven. She is about to head back to her chair when she hears keys in the door down the hall.
Jumping slightly, she eagerly (yet quietly) rushes over to the door into the hall and pulls it open ever so little. She sees a sliver of white light on the floor – that would be moonlight – and a dark shadow. She opens the door a little bit wider, just so that she can see with one eye. She cracks a smile when she sees.
Milligan's arms are around Rhonda's waist, and hers around his neck. She has to stand on her toes to reach him, and he has to incline his head a bit, but they still manage a kiss in the moonlight. Kate wishes that she had a camera. Not for spiteful purposes, no – simply because it is the most romantic thing she has ever seen.
Rhonda breaks the kiss, but leans her head against Milligan's chest, and they simply stand there for a few minutes. Then, Rhonda whispers:
"Thanks, I had a really great time. And thank Kate for me."
Kate almost gasps. Does Rhonda know what Kate, Reynie and Constance have done? Ah, well. Seeing Milligan happy and in love again is worth anything that might happen to her.
Kate makes to close the door, but a slight movement across the hall catches her eye. She looks closely, and sees Reynie peeking, too. She smiles, and he puts his finger across his lips, signally silence. They both close their doors, and Kate heads back to her chair, taking another sip of gingerale.
A few seconds later, Milligan opens the door. He doesn't see Kate until he flips on the light and turns around, and then he jumps ever so slightly. If Kate was any less observant, she would have missed it altogether.
"Kate! What are you doing out of bed this late?" he asks her, instantly becoming the overprotective father she knows and loves.
"Waiting for you. Don't worry," she adds quickly, seeing the expression on his face, "I've done my homework, and I actually wrote the essays twice, too."
He sighs. "Well, if your schoolwork is done..."
Kate gives him a look. "I'm not going to bed until you tell me how it went," she says firmly. Milligan knows that when Kate makes up her mind, she isn't going to change it easily.
"Alright," he says, and sits down. Then he begins to tell her everything that happened from the moment he left the house. Believing in the trust that he has in her, Kate conveniently "forgets" to tell him that she saw him and Rhonda come home.
"Sounds like you had a good time," she says to her father, unable to keep the mischievous tone out.
"'A good time' is an understatement," he replies. "It's likely it wouldn't have happened without Constance's interference."
Kate blushes and groans mentally. He knows, she thinks. "Just a little interference," she says sheepishly.
"Well," says Milligan, pulling her up and ushering her off to bed, "it's certainly clear that a little interference goes a long way."
A/N: Ah, so sweet!
If you liked it, push that little magical button that tells me what you thought. If you hated it, tell me nicely. Nobody likes flames. I highly doubt I've done anything to deserve them, anyway. If you didn't think that Milligan and Rhonda are at least compatible, then you probably wouldn't have clicked this fic. I love reviews!
Ciao from Kahlan the Dream Spirit... for now... (laughs maniacally)