Catch Me If You Can
Shay Reynolds was a runner. She liked the feeling of chasing someone or being chased. But not only was she a runner, she was a fast runner. Faster than a very good majority of the boy's varsity track team. The only person she wasn't faster than was him.
Austin Drew didn't particularly like running, but he was good at it. Chasing Shay since elementary school did that to you. She would take something of his and run off with it, and they'd end up running neck and neck, running for a majority of their fifteen minute recess. She always seemed to be just out of his reach.
But as they got older, and as she kept taking his things, he soon was catching up to her in no time, spending less time running around the playground. Soon enough, he was the one taking her things and she was the one chasing him.
As they got to high school and everyone was figuring out what the hell they wanted to do, Shay wanted to do one thing – run. So she signed up for cross-country, and it wasn't surprising that he signed up, too. He didn't have many other interests outside of school and academics, so running was his extra-curricular activity.
He had to admit, at the beginning, he half-assed the running and still managed to get more-than-decent mile times. But when the boys and girls ran together, he definitely put his all into the running, if only to best Shay. When they ran together, Shay and Austin were definitely the leaders of the pack. The rest of the team would struggle to catch up with these two, but Shay and Austin paid them no attention.
Austin would taunt her, and Shay would speed up. Shay would taunt, and then Austin would speed up. It stayed that way throughout their races and Coach Miller and Coach Watson would always shake their heads ruefully as they looked at their stop watches as the two would cross the finish line.
Shay and Austin would walk a lap to finish their assignments for the day and they would talk and they would joke. No one would guess that they just ran some insane mile times by the way they acted. They sweated, and they breathed heavily, but their smiles and their laughs said otherwise.
They always ran together, no matter where they were. At school, when they ran in partners, they were the ones always paired together – by choice. By the end of the first couple of weeks, everyone knew that Austin and Shay were definitely not open for a partner change. They ran together outside of school. They lived on the same block, so it wasn't horrible, and they ran together for miles and miles. They talked about school, life, boys, girls, and everything else that could possibly come to mind.
The rumors started to spread once they hit their senior year. Why it took so long, they would never know. "Did you know Austin has been in love with Shay since they were six?" "Did you know Shay likes him back?" "Have you heard about Austin and Shay?" Those types of rumors were all they heard for weeks when the rumor mill was in a lull. Apparently, Shay was the only that heard those rumors because one day during lunchtime she walked by him and their normal lunch table, tears running down her face, headed towards the exit. He stood up and caught her wrist, forcing her back to him.
"Shay, what's wrong?" She just shook her head and untangled herself from his grip and walked towards the exit. Naturally, Shay was upset that anyone would pay such attention to her personal life when there were other scandals going on. So what did she do? She ran. But this time, without Austin. He glanced out his window on a whim that day and was surprised to see a familiar dark-eyed, dark-haired figure run by his house – without stopping to pick him up.
Upset and confused as he was, he shook it off and tried to not let it affect their friendship. After that day, they still ran together, but their conversations had soon dwindled to the "safe" subjects – school, work, family. There was definitely no talk of relationships or more importantly, Maya Abbott, the new girl in town who had apparently shown some interest in Austin.
He brought up the subject of Maya casually, and she had smiled – not a real smile, he knew – and said she liked her and they were good together. He took it as her blessing. The day they made it official in mid-December – they had kissed in the lunchroom – he was sitting on his porch and was surprised to see Shay run by his house. As much as Shay loved to run, she abhorred running in the wintertime. She instead preferred to stay in by the fire and watch old movies. He knew he had been a victim of that many times during their friendship. Later he would realize that Shay ran when she was upset. And not just her normal pace – she ran hard.
On Christmas morning, Austin sat on his porch, a neatly wrapped present sitting next to him. A pair of sweats and a sweater was donned on his body as he waited for Shay to run by. As he saw her round the corner he yelled out her name. She looked up at him and smiled a small smile. She stopped and glanced at him.
"Hey Austin." She said, brown eyes shining. "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, Shay." He procured the present from his side and handed it to her.
"Austin…" She said softly, her eyes glancing at the brightly wrapped paper. "You shouldn't have."
He shrugged. "I know. I wanted to." She smiled at him – a real Reynolds smile – and she stepped forward and gave him a hug.
"Thanks, Austin." He happily returned it, wrapping his arms around her waist with ease. He let go and gestured towards the present.
"Open it." She took the bow off and as she did, he quickly grabbed the present out of her hands and took off sprinting.
"Austin!" Shay cried out, her voice filled with laughter. She chased after him, running full speed. They ran around the block many times, and soon they were transported back to elementary school. As she closed the gap, he ran just a little bit harder. At the few times when they were running the same speed, he kept her present out of her reach.
As the winter air became just a little bit chillier, he slowed down as he reached his household. He leaned against the wall as they both began to catch their breath. Shay snatched the present out of his hands and began to tear into it.
In it was a beautiful jewelry box and as she opened it, she laughed as she saw the girl in a jogging suit twirling around and around.
"I love it." She paused and placed the jewelry box on the porch. She stood up, reaching for his hand. "Let's go." Austin frowned.
"Just follow me." And so he did. She had started to run, and he ran at her pace. At first he thought they were going to her house, but as they passed her street, he realized that was not the case. He was confused for a few more blocks before she opened her mouth.
"Mr. Tompkins won't raise my grade from an 89.8 to a 90." Austin slowed down his pace, wondering what the hell she just said. The realization dawned on him and he grinned.
And so they started to rebuild the foundation of their running game. They began to talk more about school and life, but boys and Maya were brought about once again. Jerry Thomas wouldn't stop asking her out and Maya was showing interest in a different guy. The day they broke up, Shay showed up at his house without a word and they ran and she had no problems filling in all the conversation herself.
On Valentine's Day, they got each other stupid gifts: she had gotten him pink and red silly string, while he had gotten her a gift card to Target, decked in red and pink hearts. The Saturday following Valentine's Day, they met at her house for their usual jog. She had a piece of paper in her hand and she told him to close his eyes. Once he obliged, she put the paper in his hand and told him not to open his eyes for ten seconds – no cheating. Once he got to ten in his head, he opened his eyes and laughed at the message on the piece of paper.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.
He shoved the paper in his pocket and took off running in the usual direction. Shay was definitely within his sights, but as he pounded the pavement harder, she seemed to sense it, too, and she would sprint faster. He shook his head. Since when did Shay become faster than him? Since elementary school, a voice that sounded a lot like Shay responded in his head. As Shay rounded the corner, he took the opportunity to cut across Mr. Bender's lawn to be within closing distance of Shay. He heard her laugh and he had to grin.
The park was in their sights and Shay's sprint didn't falter. Shay sprinted faster, if freaking possible and Austin was definitely having a hard time keeping up. With another burst of speed, he sprinted after Shay, who was running towards the swing set. She was thisclose to sitting on her swing, when Austin grabbed her by the waist and tackled her down onto the grass. She laughed loudly.
"What the hell Austin?"
"I caught you, didn't I?" he laughed from beside her. He got up first and offered his hands to Shay. "Come on, walk it off." She grabbed a hold of his hands as he pulled her up without much effort. She didn't bother to let go, and neither did he.
"So what's my prize?"
"Your prize for what?" Shay turned towards him, a little confused.
"I caught you. Therefore I think I should get a prize." Shay scoffed.
"Dream on, Drew."
"I could have caught you earlier if you didn't have a ten second head start." Shay stuck her tongue out at him. "Mature, Shay. Prize, please." Shay stopped and tugged at Austin's hand when he didn't stop with her. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him on the cheek.
"There. Happy?" Austin looked at her in a little mixture of shock and awe. She started walking but once he regained his composure, he shook his head and tugged her hand and she turned back towards him. He dipped his head to meet her lips. He felt Shay turn a little rigid but soon loosened up as she kissed him back. Once they parted, he whispered.
"There. Now I'm happy."
"I'm not." Austin, in shock, pulled away from her abruptly. "What? Shay…"
"I was supposed to win!" Shay cried, a grin forming on her lips. Austin shook his head, a small smile forming.
"God, Shay. Don't scare me like that." He looked at her, and she grinned. He rolled his eyes. "I'll tell you what. I'll let you win every single time in the future."
"Are we going to shake on it?" Austin shook his head and lowered his head once again.
"I've got a better idea." He captured her lips in his and felt her smile. She wrapped her arms around him, deepening the kiss before pulling away. She grinned at him before taking off running towards the swing set. Austin rolled his eyes and jogged towards the swing set. He took a place on the swing next to her. She smirked at him and walked over and stood in front of him.
"I was just checking to see if you would keep up that promise."
"And how'd I do, Shay?" She grinned.
"I can handle winning for the rest of my life." She leaned down to kiss him, and Austin happily obliged.
Author's Note: Just something I had to write once I witnessed this too-cute-for-words moment by two seven year olds. Reviews are appreciated. :)