EDIT: Edited the title and summary. That's it.
A/N: I know, I know. I'm publishing something when I should be working on "Black Balloons" or "Clash of the Demigods." Sorry, but this idea just wouldn't leave me alone. Once I figured out how Kacky would work, I had to try and write it. It didn't turn out the way I thought it would, but that's fine with me. It would take a while for Kate/Sticky to evolve into a relationship.
How I figure it would work: By the time Sticky reaches mid-teens or so, I don't think he'd be quite so awkward anymore. More of a Longshot type, if you've seen Avatar: The Last Airbender. And, of course, every Longshot needs a Smellerbee, a role that Kate fits quite nicely. They're both fifteen in this, by the way.
However, I hope this proves that there's stuff besides Kaynie out there to all of you rabid fans. Not to mention that this is the first fic of its genre. I am now the author of two genre debuts. (Rhonigan, Kacky) Or is it three, considering the first non-cheesy Kaynie?
Kacky, If You Squint
Kate sat perched on her bed, glaring up at the moon and the stars outside the window. It was mocking her. The moon represented romance, right? The full moon especially so. So why was it that the first and most perfect relationship of her life had ended on an auspicious night?
She rubbed at her eyes. They'd told her not to. Milligan had said expressly that she was only in for heartbreak. Rhonda had said that she loved Reynie, but Kate was her first concern and she had to advise against it.
'Reynie's not ready for a relationship, Kate,' Rhonda'd said. 'He's not experienced enough. He knows many things, but how to treat a girlfriend is not one of them.'
'Well, I don't know how to treat a guy,' Kate had replied. 'I guess we'll just learn on the go.'
Learning on the go hadn't really worked out for either of them. Reynie was sweet, and he cared for Kate, but Kate could tell from early on that he really wasn't ready for the responsibility. She wasn't ready either, but in her own honest opinion she thought she was ready for it. She thought she was ready for love.
"How wrong I was," she said to herself, laughing without humor. Of course she was wrong. It was a characteristic of hers to go with the flow and her gut instinct. This had worked to perfection on the battle field, but on the home front it had proven extremely untrustworthy.
They'd had good times, she and Reynie. But recently they had started fighting more and more, and they'd started arguing over tiny things that turned into innuendos. Kate hated innuendos; they were often so unclear and, while not exactly cliché, they were still old things that she didn't exactly like. Kate had been able to tell it was going to end.
She'd ignored that instinct, of course, hoping desperately that it was wrong. She'd really loved Reynie. He'd been a perfect first boyfriend, like Romeo and Juliet – but without all the dying. The dying was rather unnecessary and quite drastic, she thought.
She laughed again, still without humor. Here she was, criticizing the most romantic couple ever known, in order to make herself feel better. Was this what all girls did after a breakup? She wouldn't know. Maybe she could ask Rhonda... but would Rhonda know?
Kate had been looking up the the African a lot more lately. She was Milligan's girlfriend only, but she was like a mother to Kate. Kate didn't remember Emily. When she thought the word "mother" she saw Rhonda's face. Miss Perumal's and Mrs. Washington's were there occasionally (mainly when she remembered them) but usually it was only Rhonda.
Kate found herself suddenly wishing for Rhonda as much as was possible to wish for someone. She needed a mother at this time in her life. But Rhonda didn't know about the breakup yet, and it was getting close to midnight. She might not even be up. Kate was certain that Moocho wasn't.
Fresh tears sprang into Kate's eyes. Damn it, she thought. I thought I'd finished the last time. She considered waking Rhonda – it was, after all, an emergency (of sorts), but Kate thought that this sort of thing didn't merit waking her. The woman was only a few years older than Kate herself, after all. She might not know anything more about it than the girl.
But Kate had been alone for the past two hours. She'd been without anyone to come to, to cry to – Milligan was out on a mission. And she didn't know how Milligan would be able to factor into this any more than she herself could. She wanted company right now. She wanted to vent, to complain, to damn Reynie with every word in every language she knew. Normally when something that called for multilingual cursing Reynie was her audience, agreeing with her when necessary and somehow managing to calm her down.
But Reynie was the one she was mad at now. She hated him, completely and utterly hated him. She wanted anything that had something to do with him gone.
Okay. Calm down. So it didn't work, Kate, she tried to tell herself. It's fine. Relationships don't work all the time. It happens to everyone.
But she had believed that they were perfect for each other. It was like all of the fairy-tale romances where the guy and girl were practically made for each other. They were compatible, they had chemistry.
(Not that she exactly knew what that meant. After all, she'd only read so many romance novels.)
She stood up and paced around her room a few times, hoping that movement would distract her from her thoughts. But unfortunately, walking is movement that doesn't require concentration and was one of the only actions you could perform in the Wetherall apartment, and therefore didn't help her at all. She collapsed back onto the bed, facing away from the moon this time. It wasn't helping her, after all.
Kate had to admit that she missed Reynie. She missed his presence, his manner – and even though she would definitely see him tomorrow, that thought was so depressing she could barely stand it. She would see him and have to avoid him.
All of those times... fighting Curtain, almost dying, saving the world – that sort of thing really bonds two people, she concluded. It wasn't like she and Reynie would always be cold towards each other...
Who was she kidding, really? They'd supported each other throughout the years. She had always had a welcome place in Reynie's heart. She could take confidence in the fact that he was ready to do just about anything for her, and would listen to whatever she had to say.
Kate tried to wipe the tears from her eyes, but it didn't work. They kept coming down, and she knew that she had to talk to someone about this. The thought of having to go through this alone left a weight on her heart that threatened to break it into pieces – more than it was in already.
Rhonda... but Rhonda was asleep. And though Kate knew it wasn't true, she was afraid of Rhonda saying "I told you so."
Constance was out. No question. So were Number Two and Mr. Benedict. The Perumals would take Reynie's side in the matter; it was family loyalty. So...
Kate slid her feet into her shoes and grabbed her jacket. It was May, but it would be cold at night outside. And she was indeed going outside.
Someone was knocking at the door.
Sticky groaned and turned over. Who would be trying to get into his house at this ungodly hour? Constance might do something like that just to be annoying; that is, if she bothered getting up to do it. Reynie? Too polite. Kate might, but only if something was really...
Sticky sat up. She and Reynie had had a date tonight, he knew – had something gone wrong? He'd known it was going to happen at some point. But now? Who cares, Sticky? he asked himself. Kate's obviously got a problem and she needs someone right now. He scrabbled for the glasses on his bedside table and pulled them on awkwardly.
It wasn't until he was in a bathrobe and halfway to the door that he realized it might not be Kate, but he brushed that thought away as nonsense. It was likely her, because after all, who else would bother?
The rapping continued, sounding a bit desperate now. "Sticky?" Someone called through the door. Even in his groggy state, Sticky could tell that it was Kate and that she had been crying. Something needed to be done.
He pulled open the door and stared blearily at Kate, who was standing there and shaking slightly. Her eyes and nose were red; she was obviously very upset about something. She rubbed at one of her eyes. "Kate!" Sticky exclaimed. He hastily stepped aside. "Come in, please."
She obliged and walked in, taking a left to the sitting room. Sticky closed the door and followed her. "What's wrong?" he demanded, sitting next to her on the couch. He wasn't the best at listening to problems and comforting; it wasn't one of his strengths, but for his best friend he was willing to do anything.
Kate took a deep breath and looked into his eyes. Sticky blinked. "We... he and I... it's..." she tried, not quite able to get the phrase out.
"You split up?" Sticky prompted. She nodded, and started crying again. Sticky awkwardly put his arm around her, not quite sure what he was supposed to do when a fifteen-year-old girl was crying on your couch having just gone through a breakup. What was right? Comforting words? Cursing the name of the culprit? He'd heard that ice cream worked occasionally. But he'd never had the girl's side of a breakup, though in his time he'd definitely had his share of them. For some reason he could never keep a steady relationship.
"I'm really sorry, Sticky," she said in a cracking voice. "I just... I needed someone to talk to, and no one was really available..."
"I get it," Sticky assured her, trying to keep her from feeling unwelcome. "It's fine, you're my best friend. You don't need permission to come over here."
She nodded. "I know, it's just... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come." She stood up and began to slide off of the couch. Sticky caught her arm and pulled her back down.
"No, I said that I get it." He tapped his foot and gazed around the room. Kate just leaned her head back against the couch. "Um... do you want some ice cream?" He offered, blushing slightly and smiling awkwardly.
She smiled awkwardly back at him. "Ice cream's fine," she said. "You don't have to, though."
"I want to," he replied genuinely. He stood up. "Chocolate or vanilla?"
He nodded and walked back to the kitchen. Pulling open a drawer and digging for the ice cream scoop, he wondered if everything was really all right with Kate. She'd been with Reynie for about two years... you didn't just get over something like that, he suspected. In all of the relationships he'd been involved in, they were never really so... serious as Reynie and Kate's. But why was he somewhat glad that it had happened? Why was he happy that his best friends had split up? Why wasn't he feeling sorry for them?
He went over all the reasons in his mind. He'd always found it annoying when they expressed their liking in front of him, and he'd attributed it to the fact that he wanted more time with Reynie. Jealousy? In a way. Of Kate? Yes. Of Reynie? The thought had never crossed his mind before. Jealous of Reynie... for Kate?
No, that wasn't possible. He and Kate simply weren't made for each other, though a few months ago Rhonda had commented that Sticky had definitely grown up; he wasn't the awkward boy who was painfully shy of everything anymore. Instead, she'd said, his silence was more thoughtful. It seemed more mature, like he was thinking philosophical thoughts. Sticky had laughed at the time. But when he thought about it now, him being a match for Kate seemed more likely than it had back then.
But never mind that, he told himself. He returned to the living room to find Kate sitting cross-legged on the sofa caressing a book. A quick glance around the room revealed that every picture containing Reynie had been placed face-down. He didn't mention it though, or acknowledge that it had occurred. Kate had always been impulsive. Likely this was one of those moments.
"Here," he said, handing her one of the bowls and sitting next to her. She smiled at him and took it. He, in exchange, took the book from her.
"Robinson Crusoe," he said, reading the title. "Unabridged."
She nodded, and took a spoonful of the frozen concoction. "You gave me the same version," she said, "for my thirteenth birthday. I remember being excited; it was the first time I could read it." She smiled fondly at the thought. "It was harder to read than I'd figured."
"Adaptions are generally easier," Sticky agreed, taking a bite from his own bowl.
"I always liked the story," Kate continued. "About a man who'd lost everything and was completely alone in the world, but managed to make something of himself."
"Like you?" Sticky suggested.
She shrugged. "I guess I kind of looked up to him as a kid. I was in a bit of the same situation. Then I met Coriander and Jacinda, and even Sam turned out not to be so bad."
Sticky nodded. "I remember. You told us a year or so back."
"I didn't have any parents, any real possessions, any friends or prospects, but I made something of myself." She took another contemplative bite. "Answering that ad was the best thing I ever did."
"I agree. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have my parents, or Mr. Benedict, or ..." Sticky stopped himself before he could say Reynie's name. Something told him that wouldn't be a good idea.
Kate was silent. She stabbed the spoon into the ice cream a bit harder, as if it would do any damage. "You can say his name, you know," she said bitterly. "I'm not that much of a baby."
Sticky put his bowl down on the sidetable. "I know," he assured her. "But I'm not that insensitive or immature. You don't like him too much right now, and I respect that." She continued to eat her ice cream ferociously. "And you don't have to make the dessert feel bad. It's only trying to help."
Kate slid her eyes in his direction, but kept her face down. "Is that an innuendo?" she asked. "Because innuendos and I aren't exactly buddies right now."
Sticky opened his mouth to speak, then thought better of it. It was kind of an innuendo, but clearly admitting to it wouldn't be a good thing to say, while saying it wasn't would be such an obvious lie that Kate wouldn't take it well either. Gosh, girls were tricky. No wonder he didn't get on with them very well.
Kate grinned, and spooned another bite. "Yeah, I thought so."
Sticky sighed. "Well..." he began, then realized he didn't have anything to say. "I felt so confident going into that..."
"That's what I said about two years ago," Kate told him. "I felt so confident going into it, I didn't think. Rhonda was right; neither of us was ready for a relationship."
"You've got to learn at some point," Sticky contradicted. "And you kept it up for two years. That's got to mean something."
"That means nothing," she said. "What's important now is that it's over. It's over and done with and will never happen again."
Sticky wasn't dumb enough to ask what she was specifically talking about: The relationship or the breakup. He figured it wasn't in his best interest.
"So... you're sure you're all right?" he asked as she spooned the last bit into her mouth.
She nodded. "I'm fine, Sticky. I'm not one of those girls who breaks up with her boyfriend and then spends the next month wallowing."
"I know, trust me. Someone would have to blind to think that. But sometimes wallowing can help." At her suspicious look, he hastily continued: "With anything, really. You could be getting over the death of your grandmother or your bad grade on a test. Either way, wallowing helps. I guess that humans are just made to complain."
Kate chuckled. "Yeah, I guess." She glanced at the clock above the mantle. "Gosh, look at the time. I've got to go." She stood up and put the bowl on the table. "Thanks, Sticky. I appreciate it."
Sticky stood as well. "You know, you can stay here tonight if you need to. We've got a closet full of blankets, I can set up the couch for you."
"I don't want to intrude -"
Sticky put his hand on her shoulder. "It's no intrusion, really. You shouldn't go back to that house for a while, at least one night. I'll call Number Two and let her know."
Kate thought about it for a few minutes, then said, "Thanks, Sticky. Just please don't tell her about anything yet. She probably heard the yelling, but still."
Sticky nodded. "I won't, I promise."
Kate walked over to the closet in the back of the room. She'd been over to Sticky's house often enough that she knew where to look for things. Pulling out a blanket and tossing it over the couch, she said, "I really appreciate this, Sticky. You're being really nice."
He smiled. "Don't mention it," he said, reaching for the phone and dialing Number Two's number.
Well, if you liked it, tell me. If you didn't like it, tell me. If you hated it, tell me with proper grammar. Actually, go ahead and use proper grammar no matter what. Then I'll believe what you say.
And don't be afraid of rambling reviews. I like reviews of the rambling variety. They please me, and then I write more. Unless they're bad reviews. But then, bad reviews don't need to be long, do they? (Don't listen to me on the subject of long bad reviews. I'm a hypocrite in that area as I preach against them then leave them. Just ask ohmaygosh. They'd know.) Don't read ohmaygosh's stories, by the way.