Dinner and a movie.
That was the promise Daniel had made me earlier this week. Friday night, we would have a night in: I would cook, and Daniel would bring a copy of his favorite film.
Just the two of us. Together.
I'm not quite quite sure how this had come about, or how I had gotten Daniel to agree. But, he seemed eager enough, and I was too, of course.
Also, nervous. I was unbelievably nervous. What if he cancelled? What if he actually came? What if he hated the food? What if we couldn't find a thing to talk about? What if I made an absolute, complete fool out of myself?
On some level, I knew my worries were absurd. Daniel and I interacted on nearly a daily basis, whether it was a case, or coffee (tea for him) in his office, or a simple phone call. But, this was different. This was a... date. Wasn't it?
Friday afternoon was here. I was a wreck, running around the kitchen, cleaning the living room, making sure everything was in its place. Twice, I had been forced to run to the store for a missing ingredient. It was no small feat that I looked calm and (relatively) presentable when Daniel rang the bell at 5:30 that evening.
I pasted on a casual, relaxed smile and opened the door to reveal an equally nervous Daniel- it was all over his face.
"Good evening," he said formally, a testament to his apprehension.
"Daniel," I said, suddenly breathless. God, why did I say his name so often? "Come on in." I stepped back, nearly tripping over my own feet.
Shrugging off his coat, Daniel held up the DVD in his hand. "Forrest Gump," he said simply.
"Hmm, I don't believe I've ever seen that," I mused.
I had never seen him give me a look like that. "How have you never seen Forrest Gump? It's a classic. I'm disappointed, Ms. Moretti," he added.
I laughed. "I just never got around to it, I suppose."
He shook is head in mock shame. "It's a good thing you've got me around, then."
I grinned up at him. "What would I do without you?" I agreed with another laugh. Geez, I was just the little giggler tonight, wasn't I?
There were a few moments of silence, when the two of us smiled at each other with such a warm tenderness that I felt my face burn red. Characteristically, Daniel was the first to shatter the peace.
"Well," he began, glancing around.
I jolted myself out of my stupor. "Ah, right. Here, dinner is almost ready; follow me." I awkwardly showed Daniel to the kitchen.
The next hour or so passed quickly, a blur of laughter and of wine; I was surprised at how comfortable I felt, how right this felt.
And, call me crazy (though that's not the clinical term), but it seemed he felt the same way. The way he complimented me ("You look nice" "Where did you learn to cook like this?"), the way he looked at me with a small smile over the brim of his glass, the way he contributed so easily to the conversation. He was comfortable, too. This was unusual for him, I knew, being so intimate with another human being. It gave me a small thrill to know that he was sharing it with me, that I was the one person he let in.
After dinner, we moved to the living room so that I could be "educated." I found it adorable that he wasn't letting this go.
Did I just describe Daniel as "adorable?" He'd kill me if he heard me say that.
After I put the disc in and turned on the television, we settled into the couch- notably, on the two opposite sides. I felt, and could tell from his posture that he did as well, a little awkward now that there wasn't a table laden with food between us, that we were sitting side by side on a big, cozy couch, with nothing between us but air and our own insecurities.
I'm so poetic today. He has that effect on me...
As I watched the trials and tribulations of Forrest Gump, I couldn't help but connect him a bit to Daniel. No, Daniel wasn't mentally retarded, just unstable, but still, he was a man with a few screws loose in a world full of people that didn't understand him. I wanted so badly to make him believe that I, at least,could understand him.
About halfway through the film, I noticed that we were slowly and subconsciously (at first) moving towards one another. What started out as a good two feet of distance slowly ebbed to the width of two cushions, then one, until finally, we weren't even separated at all. I could feel his heart pounding in time with my own as we both tried to pretend we didn't notice the proximity. I groaned inwardly when I felt him shift beside me, bracing myself for him to pull away, like he always did, like I had come to expect. Instead, he surprised me: I was rewarded with the feeling of his arm wrapping around my shoulders and of him gently pulling me closer to his chest. He continued to stare at the screen, like he was unaware of what he was doing. I was shocked- happy, elated, ecstatic- but shocked.
I gave him a moment to change his mind, move away if he wanted, but when he didn't- when, instead, he began to run his fingers lightly over my arm- I nestled in closer to him, resting my head on his shoulder and my hand on his chest.
We stayed like this for a while, intertwined, my legs tucked underneath me, my hand riding the rise and fall of his breathing, his hand brushing over me, before, again, I felt him move a bit.
I let out a small sigh of content when he leaned down and lightly planted a kiss in my hair, drawing me even further into his arms. He didn't want to let go, and I didn't want him to.
I wasn't nervous anymore, and he was no longer so reserved. This is where we were supposed to be.