Keeping Warm

By; Zero_Starlight

I shivered as I stepped out of the school into the cold, my heavy duster doing what little it could to keep me warm in the frigid winds, my white shirt and black pants doing even less. The weather had taken a turn for the cold recently, ice forming on the roads and bitter, chilling winds biting at unprotected faces.

I made my way down the steps to my car, a sleek, black Dodge Charger, with white racing stripes down the middle. It was an expensive piece of work, especially for a recent grad student, but worth it, even just for the pure eye candy. I unlocked the door and slipped in, starting the engine and sighing in relief as the AC came on, warming the interior.

I began backing out, when I noticed the form of a white cat, slowly making her way down the steps. She wore no cold weather clothes, her school bag and a large pink bow, the knot end facing behind her, being all that protected her from the cold.

I continued to reverse and turned towards the school steps, stopping before the girl. I rolled down the window and poked my head out. "Lucy, right?" She nodded, and I noted the hundred yard stare in her eyes. "Uh, how far is your house from here?" I asked, attempting to get the question across as concern for a fellow student. My black fur, punk earring, and purple eyes tended to project a bad image towards others.

She looked at me with a dazed look on her face and pointed to the south. "A couple or so hours from here..." She said.

"Would you like a lift?" I asked, "My house is that way anyway, so it's no trouble." She gave me that look again.

"Fine." Was all she said, and I opened the passenger door and she slipped in, her books in her arms.

As I drove, I tried to make light conversation. "So... how long you been at Roseville High for?" I asked.

"Few years, I graduate in two." She replied, "You?"

"I'm taking an extra year." I replied, "I've already graduated technically, but I'm just getting some extra experience under my belt, you know?"

She nodded silently.

"It's getting a tad on the cold side out there, isn't it?" I joked, "Let me just check the weather station..." I flipped on the radio, already set to the local weather during my drive in earlier that morning.

"-ajor storm is reported to be coming, and already the south bound fifty-nine highway has been blocked off for safety..." The weather announcer rattled on for a few more minutes, and I turned off the radio.

"Well... Not sure how I'm going to get you home now..." I said, sighing as I pulled the car over. "Sorry Lucy..."

She cocked her head to the side, surprised, "Wait, how do you know my name anyway?" She asked.

"Huh? Oh, yeah. Sorry if that surprised you. I heard you auditioning for the play that one time, and I asked around for your name." I scratched the back of my head.

"Well, whatever. What are we going to do?" She asked.

"Can't take you to your house... any friends nearby?" I asked, grasping at straws.

"Nope." Lucy replied. I sighed, rubbing the bridge of my nose with a paw. "Only option I can think of then is if you come stay at my place."

"What?" She said, recoiling from me in surprise, "No way creep!"

"And there's that infamous temper I keep hearing about..." I said, leaning back in my seat. "You can stay in the house, I'll sleep in the car, alright? That way you don't have any problem with me invading your privacy or anything."

"...What?" She mumbled, confused, "But you'll freeze!"

"Small price to pay if you want your privacy." I replied, "I've got a few heavy blankets at my place and the garage is fairly warm, so I can deal."

"If you're sure..." She said, hesitant.

"Of course. I'll even make dinner for you." I tapped a claw to my chin, "Hm... what do I have in the pantry..." I turned to look at her, "You a vegetarian or a vegan or anything?"

"Nope." She replied, turning away in her seat slightly, hiding her face.

"Alright then..." I said, and started driving again, heading for my place.

"Welcome to my kingdom." I said with a sweep of my arm. My house wasn't much, it was an art-deco place that I had talked the owners into selling for far below it's actual retail value. The place had new-age art, a spiral staircase to the second floor loft, and I had a kitchen built of to the side.

"Nice." Lucy replied, looking at one of the more bizarre pieces left over. "What's this one?"

I looked over, "Ah, good choice. It's a bit of a fusion between an ink blot and this new art technique called splattering. Basically the artist put their choice of paint in a high pressured tube, then use a knife to slice across the middle. The release of pressure sends the paint flying onto the canvas. Some of the more... violent artists call it slitting." I shrugged, "Seems like more effort than needed when you could just take paintbrush or even a can of paint and just splash it all over the canvas."

"It looks pretty cool." Lucy replied, flopping down on the couch. "Mind if I...?"

"Go ahead," I replied, "I have some video games in the side cabinet if you want. Pizza good with you?"

"That's fine." Lucy replied as she turned the TV on and switched on one of my consoles, an action tune quietly played out of hidden speakers as the game I had in booted up. "Fan of Splinter Cell I see."

The pizza in the oven, I cleaned up and eased into the plush seat of the couch, watched as Lucy played as Sam Fisher. She had made her way to the second interrogation scenes, quite an achievement seeing as I hadn't been busy making the pizza that long.

I chuckled as she smashed her victims face into the keys of the piano, sending blood and ebony shards everywhere.

"You wanna play Co-Op?" I asked, grabbing my controller from the charger table.

"Sure, I never got a chance to beat it." Lucy replied, smiling a little.

"That makes two of us," I replied, laughing, "No one ever wants to hang out with me." I gave a thoughtful look as the two player mode loaded. "Actually, I think you're the first one who's ever actually come to the new place."

Lucy remained quiet, and we played. We made quite a good team, managing to avoid most detection and having a near perfect shot to kill ratio.

"Not sure if he sees me..." I muttered, hanging from a pipe above a patrolling guard. "Well, no guts, no glory!" My character dropped on the enemy, killing him as I made a karate attack yell.

Lucy laughed at this, nearly getting caught herself, but I managed to get a shot off that prevented it.

The timer beeped and I paused the game, breathing raggedly, fits of laughter still occasionally racking my body.

"Oh man, that guy didn't even see you coming! You just came out of the cut and bang!" I said, pushing Lucy lightly.

"You weren't bad youself, Zero." She pushed back, her fur rubbing against mine comfortably. I felt a blush coloring my face.

I grabbed my oven mitts and pulled the pizza out of the oven, and sliced a piece for Lucy and myself. "Dig in!" I said, smiling.

As we ate, we chatted idly, speaking of school, old crushes, family, the usual fare.

"So are your parents OK with me staying here tonight?" She asked, taking another bite of her pizza.

I froze for a moment, but continued to eat, scratching the back of my head. "Oh, they..." I sighed, avoiding Lucy's gaze.

"What?" Lucy put down her piece of pizza, obviously detecting my change of tone.

"They're, uh... dead..." I replied. "I never really knew them, I was five when they passed away. All I've got left are a few scattered pictures here and there. Many of which were destroyed when my old house burnt to the ground..."

"Oh, sorry..." Lucy said, eyes widening. "I didn't mean to bring up bad memories."

I shrugged, continuing to eat my pizza. "Don't worry about it. I accepted it a long time ago. The insurance claims left me with enough money to get through school and stuff." I chuckled, "Stuff being my new place, my car, the bills, etcetera, etcetera." I noticed Lucy still looked a bit down. I smiled, "Hey, you wanna watch a movie after this?" She smiled weakly, nodded, and returning to her pizza.

"So... what do you want to watch?" I asked, turning to Lucy with a pile of DVD's in my arms. "I've got WALL-E, the Lethal Weapon series, The Dark Knight, a few of seasons of The Big Bang Theory... take your pick."

"Um... Do you have any of the Mission Impossible movies?" She asked, and I nodded, grinning. "One, Two or Three?"

"Can we start with one and work our way forwards?" She asked, and I nodded again, smiling. "Of course!"

It was now late into the night and the credits had just rolled on the last Mission Impossible I had in my collection. Lucy was leaning against me, eyes closed and breath shallow. She was asleep. I quietly shut off the TV and picked her up. She was quite light, thankfully, and I carried her to my room, tucking her under the cover of my bed. I grabbed one of my heavy blankets and a spare pillow from my closet, along with my warm pajamas, and went to the bathroom, changing into them. I put my jacket on and walked out to my car, sliding into the back. I shivered, the seats had become cold, so I put the blanket down on top, nestling into a wrap of semi-warmth, and fell into a restless sleep.

As I slept, I felt the warmth of the blankets fail me, and I shivered again. I was beginning to regret not sleeping on the couch, but I didn't want Lucy to think I was a pervert or something.

I shuddered again as the door to the car was opened and a white paw touched my shoulder. "Zero?" A sleepy tone called out, "Zero? What are you doing out here?"

I rolled over and saw Lucy, eyelids drooping slightly and a small smile on her face.

"What do you mean? I said I'd sleep out here so I wouldn't invade your privacy or anything." I shivered again and sniffled quietly. I would probably have a cold after this.

"That was before I got to know you properly Zero... Come on in, you'll freeze to death in there." Lucy smiled and helped me up, holding my cold hand as she led me back inside. I stopped at the couch.

"Alright, thanks for letting me come in Lucy, I'll just set up he-" Lucy continued pulling me along, and into my bedroom, pulling me under the covers.

"L-lucy? What are you doing?" I stuttered, suprised as she nuzzled into the crook of my neck.

"Just trying to keep you warm..." She murmured, before leaning up and touching her lips to mine. My eyes widened for a moment, before relaxing.

I pulled back gently, and gazed at her, "Lucy?" I asked.

"Yes?" She replied, somewhat sleepily.

"Do... do you love me?" I asked, blushing again.

"Yeah Zero... I think I do."

END

Author's note; And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed, review if you've got time, and I'll see you in the future! Zero out! BOOP!