Apologies for the delayed update! This one was really hard to write, for some reason. I like Gavin's POV so much better! Anyway, I'm majorly relieved this is completed, and I hope it turned out okay. I'm so sorry, but we're starting to get to the end of the Gavin/Katie adventures. :( I know, I'm sad too, but I'm not saying I'll stop writing them completely, they just won't be as close together. I still have a spin off or two (like Max's fate, and maybe something following up on Katie's roommate) but I'm hoping to start my series of fairy-tale rewrites soon, because I'm really excited about those. Still, it's been so much fun figuring all of this out with y'all. Thanks for following the story! A very special thanks to Noie, without whom this story would not have been. It never occured to me to write Gavin and Katie's first date, since they kind of evolved as holiday-inspired. If you really like how this turned out, go ahead and thank her!!! Oh, and just in case anyone is unclear, this is set after Not and Save the Cheerleader, but before SU. And yes, this is from Katie's perspevtive, not Gavin's. As always, I don't own Mother Nature, Three Doors Down, LaZBoy, Tom Clancy, Wal-Mart, the Olympics, Solitaire, The Thing, November, Tourette's syndrome, Goldilocks, Dell, Tinkerbell, the Civil War, Biology, and any other stuff I don't own. I'd go through the whole list, but this really is for my own personal amusement, anyway, and I'd rather just let you guys read. So, ON WITH THE SHOW!!!

Saturday mornings are reserved for pajamas and sugary breakfast cereals and cartoons. Girls should not have to worry about early morning rituals being disturbed by lurking hulks that make even the smallest amount of fun impossible. That should just be a law of nature!

Well, maybe Mother Nature's jealous of my attractive piece of man-flesh, because she is definitely sabotaging our relationship. For real.

I'm rocking out in the most incredible show of bad-assness ever displayed (and secretly imagining myself on stage with Three Doors Down) when someone behind me clears their throat.

With a startled screech I fly forward off my precarious perch atop my LaZBoy and onto the floor, breaking my air-guitar and possibly several bones in the process. The throat-clearer, Gavin, only smirks and leans down to tug me to my feet. I have a moment to enjoy the feel of his hand in mine before he retreats from my astonished figure. My huff of annoyance goes unnoticed, so I decide to try and gain his attention once more.

"Stupid boys showing up when they should be in their own rooms."

He raises his eyebrows at me and silently marches over to the unsteady bookcase that holds all my favorite novels. Without turning to look at me, he grabs his latest choice (some Tom Clancy murder mystery) and collapses onto the couch, undoubtably settling in for several hours lounge time.

"Well Gavin, it's nice to see you too. Yes, please do come in. Would you like something to eat or drink? No? Well that's all right then. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit? No reason? Just wanted to spend time basking in my glow? I'm sure that's it." My rant goes by unnoticed, so I decide to up the ante a little. Leaning forward and whispering in a conspiratorial tone, I bait him with a smirk.

"It really is a shame about that rash. We could have such a good time together if it weren't detrimental to my health and well-being."

The twat just turns a page. Why do I put up with this ass?

I growl in annoyance and turn off the cheap boom box I've obtained using my employee discount from Wal-Mart.

"YAY! WAL-MART!" I shout randomly. Nothing.

Fine. Two can play at this game.

Forcing myself to ignore the rather large distraction sprawled across my living room I open my laptop (fondly named Benjy) and begin typing away on one of the many essays I've put off until the last minute, yet again. Procrastinating should be an Olympic sport. I'd win for sure.

I briefly contemplate making rude gestures at the tall, dark, handsome, and unbearably silent menace infiltrating the defenses of my room. But that seems a little . . . third grade, so I restrain my base instincts.

I type away blithely for a few moments, before reading my carefully dictated thoughts and realizing it's utter drivelish. Yes. Not drivel, not gibberish, but a frightening combination of the two. I scream inwardly and go ahead and open up a Solitaire game. It's no use pretending to write up my essay when The Thing is over there distracting me with his unobtrusiveness. Yes it's possible.

I cannot believe he is doing this to me again.

The morning of November first, the day after what I've come to call our 'incident', these random visits started. He pops up out of the blue, ensconcing himself in the casual comfort of my shared rooms as if he's been there forever. Does he offer any explanation? No, of course not. Does he bother making himself scarce at convenient times, like when I decide I need to shower, and would rather not parade in front of him wearing nothing but a towel? Why should he? Apparently the conditions of our odd little relationship dictate that he is allowed to take full and total control of my life, privacy notwithstanding.

Wish somebody had warned me in advance. I even have to leave him unsupervised while I run errands or go to class sometimes. Not that I don't trust Gavin! It's just . . . what if he has some sort of strange fetish or something? I don't want him to stretch out my underwear!

Anyway, since any attempt at societal discourse is being entirely ignored, and I really am quite bad at Solitaire, I have plenty of time to wonder what the heck this means. Don't get me wrong, I love Gavin's company. But this really isn't company. We're nowhere near that cool 'the silence is just a sign we don't need to talk to enjoy ourselves, we simply revel in our shared love and understanding!'state. I still need the talking. And I can't stand silences, awkward or any other variety!

I get up and move around restlessly, hands an agitated blur. Gavin is a very intense person, and to be perfectly honest, he makes me a bit nervous. I mean, he made me nervous before I realized I kind of want to pounce on and do unspeakable things to his body. Which I don't want to do. Anyway . . .

But it's even worse now! Now I do weird things like adopt temporary Tourette's syndrome and talk to myself in the presence of other perfectly sane human beings! I can handle his odd vibe when he's being . . . I don't know, Gavin-ish. Doing Gavin things like trying to kill ducks and telling me what an idiot I am. But when he's being quiet and literary it unnerves me.

I take a moment to glare at the troublemaker feigning innocence across the room. Jerk.

I can't figure what he's thinking. Why does he keep coming here? Does he think I'm his property? Am I an investment that needs to be guarded? Or does he not trust me to associate with people or organizations that he has not approved of? Or am I being paranoid? None of that particularly sounds like Gavin, but in all the time we've been neighbors, I've never known him to have a girlfriend. I have no frame of reference!

I jump as I'm jolted out of my thoughts by a very male voice, which is also surprisingly close to my ear. This interruption also causes me to halt my Justin Timberlake impersonation.

"Damn, Katie. First things first, I've got to teach you how to relax."

My initial surprise is belied by a rush of relief. He's speaking to me! And then his words actually register in my head . . .

What on earth does that mean?

My eyes must get twice their normal size, because he gives me one of those I-would-smile-except-I'm-a-real-man-and-real-men-don't-admit-it-when-they-think-their-girlfriend-is-cute almost-smiles, where the corner of his mouth twitches just enough that I know he's having a hard time keeping a straight face.

"Shit, Goldilocks, not like that." The flash of red across his cheeks almost negates the sobriety of the following performance. "You . . . " here he pauses for dramatic effect, "are a hell of an overachiever." His tone is one of utter horror and disgust. I'm so surprised by this sudden burst of dialogue that it takes me a moment to respond.

"An overachiever?" I repeat blankly, raising a single eyebrow.

Gavin nods once, his face a mask of disapproval. "Yes. And it's starting to make me look bad. So I'm going to teach you how to relax, and maybe not be such crappy company."

I fight to hold off the grin that is struggling across my features and lean against the counter, patronizing tone firmly in place. What a goober. "Is that right?"

"Yes that's right, dammit." He growls, obviously not appreciating my lack of enthusiasm."You're going to have a heart attack before you're thirty. You don't ever sleep, you live off of energy drinks, hell, homeless people worry less than you do, Katie."

Is that what he's been doing? Taking an inventory of my virtues and vices? Is he evaluating my life? Because honestly, I don't see how Tom Clancy would help him there.

I shrug slowly, turning to stir the vat of soup-like substance I'm attempting to cook in the microwave. Note to self: find an apartment with an oven. "That just means I'll own Dell someday or something."

"No, you idiot," He mutters darkly, placing that stupid novel next to my hand on the counter top. When did he join me in the kitchen? I've got to stop zoning out . . . But hey! I hold his attention better than the book, now! "I'm pretty damn sure it means you'll be prescribed Valium or Prozac or become an alcoholic. You need to calm . . . the f–k . . . down."

Calm down? I'm not hyped up. As if he's reading my mind and refuting it, Gavin waves toward my hands as they flutter from job to job. "Tinkerbell, you've been washing the dishes, typing up a report, singing" here he chokes as if the very act of describing that as singing was painful "with the radio and making tea for the past hour and a half and all it's gotten you is a sore throat, a burnt kettle of . . . some sort of shit" here he pauses to glance dubiously at my soup, "not one, not two, but three broken plates, and an essay about the Civil War for your Biology class. You're keeping me from enjoying my book, dammit."

I ignore that totally inappropriate comment about my book stare at my very good essay, which I don't quite remember starting, which is now totally useless, and scowl at him. "Gavin. If you knew I was writing the wrong essay, why didn't you stop me?"

Instead of looking properly guilty, my semi-boyfriend only rolls his eyes. "I didn't know a damn thing until I read that 'General Lee relied upon the consistency of the cytoplasm to preserve the health and prosperity of the organelles, thereby making the system of energy production possible.' And even then, I was more than a little confused."


"Well . . . That's just . . . Shut up, your face is stupid." I finish in an incredibly lame, hurried rush, feeling my cheeks turn pink as I quickly delete that bit about General Lee from my report on Microorganisms and Life Systems.

"And your brain is dumb. Now hit the save button and come with me, you can finish this crap later."

"No, Gavin, I really can't, it's due Monday-"

"Aw, hell, Princess Peach. Turn the damn thing in late for once in your life. Trust me, with your grades, you can afford it." Gavin has shut off all the lights and is moving toward the door, giving me the distinct feeling that he's serious. This is a bit surreal. Gavin is never serious.

Or . . . maybe I never take him seriously. Either/or.

As the door shuts behind my room and Gavin steps forward to lock it with the key he's snatched from my purse, I thoughtfully reflect on our semi-relationship for the past week or so.

It's hard to figure out exactly what we're doing. I mean, I know I like Gavin. I've had a crush on him for quite a while, if I'm being honest. But he's not much of a talking kind of guy, and I'd feel stupid broaching that particular subject on my own. So I don't know what he's doing. Or, you know, what we're doing collectively. I don't think that makes any sense.

ANYWAY. The confusion is, are we friends who kissed? Or dating, without any kissing? We've never been on a date, except hanging out in my room, which I don't think counts, because usually I'm cleaning and he's trying to ignore me (or, more accurately, ignoring me rather effectively). There's no interpersonal thing happening at all.

I'm thinking this as Gavin pulls me out to his ridiculous excuse for a car. He wanted to get a motorcycle, but refused to pay for the extra insurance. Poser

It's perfectly comfortable for me, of course, but then again, I'm half his size. Watching Gavin try to squeeze into the passenger seat is like that scene of The Incredibles where big daddy is stuck in that clown mobile. It's like a magic trick.

"So where are we going?" I ask finally, after the engine turns and we cruise out of the parking lot. Gavin's only response is to turn his head and give me this really scary grin.

Oh, dear.

A half hour later I'm teetering on the edge of what looks like a very vertical incline telling Gavin for the umpteenth time exactly what I'm going to do to him once I get down from here.

I stare down the steep ramp with wide eyes. What idiot decided that this pseudo-suicide was a fun hobby? Despite the elbow pads, knee pads, and helmet, not to mention Gavin's tight grip on my arm, I'm fairly sure I'm going to die today. My expression must have betrayed my feelings, because the sicko next to me takes a look at my face and grins.

"It's not as bad as you're making it out to be, Hansel. Just take a deep breath and go for it. You'll knock the shit out of it." Is that a good thing??? All this is coming from the masochistic freak who's broken two thirds of all the bones in his body, so it's not exactly comforting.

"Trust me, you can do this."

I stare at him in complete and total disbelief. "Did I do something wrong? Are you a serial killer or something? Because not gonna' lie, I'm pretty sure this is a form of ancient Mesopotamian torture."

Gavin blinks at me in vague amusement. "Mesopotamian torture? It's just skateboarding, Katie, damn."

"Just skateboarding? You're asking me to willingly throw my body down a steep precipice with nothing protecting me from gravity except a board with tiny wheels on it. You want me to commit suicide, just admit it. You want me to die."

Gavin, pad-less and helmet-less, rolls his eyes and wraps his arms around my waist. "Would I do anything to hurt you?"

"Yes," I respond immediately. Gavin pulls me backward so I'm staring at an upside-down view of his face. He regards me silently for a moment before I relent, squinching my eyes shut and sighing. "FINE. You wouldn't do anything to hurt me. There. Are you happy now? I have no excuse at all."

"You didn't have any excuse to begin with, Snow White. And even if you had, that one was shitty."

"My name is Katie, you loser." I'm going to start calling him Sugarmuffin or something equally disturbing, then maybe he'll quit doing that. Because I blush whenever he calls me those things, and then he smirks, and then everyone around us makes little cooing noises, and it's annoying as all get out.

"And at least then I had my delusions!" I shout indignantly, trying to push away from him only to realize that the farther away from him I am, the closer I am toward the edge of the ramp.

"Eeeeek!" I squeak and propel my arms backwards violently, accidently spinning around so that my back is to the incline. This is not much better.

I grab his shoulders tightly and bury my face in his chest, hands shaking. "I don't want to do this, Gavin!"

My muffled protest makes him laugh quietly, and he wraps his arms around me again. "Katie."

"What?" I mumble reluctantly, after a moment of silence.

"I'm not going to let anything happen to you."The sudden earnestness in his voice causes me to look up, only to see the same sincerity reflected in his expression. "Right?"

I sigh. This isn't fair. "Right, yeah, sure. I'm supposed to be relaxing, you freak. You said so yourself. This really has to be some sort of punishment for the DDR episode."

The serious expression slowly fading, Gavin smirks and calmly turns me around to face my doom."Hey, I would have won the whole damn thing if it wasn't for that f–king cramp in my leg."

I roll my eyes incredulously. "Some cramp. You just didn't want to admit defeat- oh my goodness Gavin don't you dare let go!"

My homicidal beau has pushed me, atop my newly-rented skateboard, to the very edge of the highly unsafe-looking ramp. In response, I've reached backward to clutch his waist in a death grip, my fingernails digging in hard enough to cut off blood circulation.

Gavin's voice holds an unsteady note that reveals he's trying not to laugh at me as he says "Just hang on and don't fall off, got it? You'll slow down once you reach the other end" and points to the termination of the ramp.

"Shouldn't I start with something more basic, like sitting on it and pushing it with my feet?"

Gavin doesn't respond except to gently pry my fingers loose from his midriff. Great. Now some guy across the way starts hollering and cheering. This causes more people to pay attention to this pitiful excuse for a first date and then there's a crowd of admirers all cheering for me and staring at me and waiting for me to fall off and die.

It's like a public execution.

I inhale deeply and hold it, thinking that maybe if I pass out, this whole thing will be forgotten. Maybe. Some lunatic in the crowd shouts out "SHE'S TURNING PURPLE!" and the last thing that registers before I hurdle over the cliff is Gavin's uncertain concern.

"Katie. . ?"

But even that is drowned out by the wind whistling past my ears.

Surprisingly, I do survive the ride, although I was too terrified for the stop maneuver to really register, so I topple off the moment I hit level footing. Oh, the irony. Anyway, my almost-murderer doesn't take his turn, because he's too busy trying to make sure I don't go into conniptions. At least that's what he says. I think he chickened out.

So, perched on a greasy bench home to many hundreds of ABC gum colonies, I flinch away from his careful hands and scowl at my associate, the devious Mr. Gavin. "OW."

Gavin only rolls his eyes and leans forward again, only to have me duck away, again. This has been going on for several minutes, now.

"Stop being such a damn baby. It's only a bump." How dare he call me a baby?! I am so not a baby! I'm not!

"A bump? I'm suffering from the early symptoms of a concussion!" My incensed shout draws not-so-stifled laughter to erupt from the passerby. I have had no less than fifty skaters come up and congratulate me on my skills. Jerks. I'd just like to see them on my turf, like a book drive. Guess who'd be laughing then?

Well . . . probably still them. You don't have to have massive pwning skills the help out at a book drive. You just have to have . . . um . . . books.

Loverboy doesn't appear to hear them, instead continuing with his own brand of ridicule. "What the hell kind of symptoms are you talking about? You mean being obnoxious and lame?" Gavin grumbles under his breath. He thinks I don't hear him, but I do.

"You're obnoxious and lame!" I protest, trying to dive out of the way again as Gavin approaches me with the ice pack.

Unfortunately, my diving capabilities are a little too effective, and I end up sprawled out on the grimy, gum-covered floor. There are unhealthily copious amounts of chewing gum in this place.

A warm pair of arms wraps around me and I'm gently pulled to my feet, wincing. "Are you always this brain-dead? Shit!" Gavin grumbles in annoyance.

I scowl and push away from him, thankful my feet are no longer dependent on wheels. "It's your fault, you loser!"

"My fault?" Gavin exclaims. "How the hell is it my fault that you're an idiot?"

"Because I can't think around you! Okay?" I stop for a moment, not wanting to look at him, and knowing I'm blushing like crazy anyway. "My common sense all dies and goes to the knowledge afterlife, or something."

There's silence in the peanut gallery, and I wonder for a moment if he's going to yell at me some more. Then the arms wrap around me again, and they tug me over to the concession stand area, where we wait in line with a bunch of other tattooed, pierced people that would probably eat me if Gavin wasn't there to protect me. We don't talk for the few moments it takes for us to be called to order. Then the guy behind the counter asks, and Gavin says "Order of nachos."

The kid in the bright nylon uniform nods quickly, and we go wait in a different line. It's like Disneyland. I hesitate, wondering if it's okay for me to talk again, and then decide to test the waters with something everyone can relate to: "Nachos?"

Gavin looks at me a second and then faces the front again, unperturbed."I like nachos."

"You do realize the cheese is like milk byproduct with orange food coloring, right?" My nose wrinkles unconsciously and I roll back and forth on the balls of my feet.

"Aw, hell, Katie, stop talking." But he's almost-smiling again and I know he's not mad anymore. Maybe he wasn't mad in the first place. I can't ever tell with this boy.

Gavin grabs the food and pays, ignoring my squeaky objections. Then I follow him obediently to a table in view of the courses where the more experienced skaters are doing complicated tricks. He sits down on the edge of the table, resting his feet on the seat, and I follow his lead. Why shouldn't I?

We sit watching the experts in peace, until I steal one of his chips. Gavin only casts a sideways glance in my direction and hands me the tray. He waits for me to chomp contentedly into a stacked nacho before saying "I sneezed on those, you know."

I choke briefly before hitting him and shoving the meal back into his arms. I can't speak around the mouthful of food, so I settle for crossing my arms and staring resolutely away from him.

"You're such a girl." He teases, and I swallow painfully before turning to hit him again.

"And what did you expect me to be, you freak?" I roll my eyes before flinching as one of the skaters takes a nasty fall. "That's so unbelievable."

"What is?" He asks calmly, reaching around me for another nacho.

"Why would you get back up and try it again after a slip like that?" I turn to him, honestly dumbfounded. "If you've been hurt that bad. Why do you keep trying?"

Gavin doesn't answer a moment, staring at the skater, who dusts himself off and makes his way back to the beginning of the trick range.

"I guess some things are just worth all the shit it takes to enjoy them."

He continues, moving to stare at his hands as he crumples the now-empty nacho holder and continues to fidget with it. He pointedly refuses to return my gaze, and it takes me a moment to realize he's blushing.

"I mean . . . I guess if you care about something enough, you're willing to risk it." I try not to grin but it breaks out anyway. Somehow I don't think he's talking about skateboarding anymore.

I don't want to say anything, because I don't know what to say. But he's the one who grabs my hand, even though he still won't meet my eyes.

"I'm sorry you got hurt." The apology takes me by surprise. I've never known Gavin to apologize to anyone. His voice is really low and guarded, like he's afraid. Afraid of me? What a loser. I bet he thinks I'm going to guilt-trip him. Well, I won't. Although mainly because the 0.5 seconds when I didn't want to wet myself was really fun. Almost.

"Just a bump." I respond breezily, enjoying the shocked jerk of his head as his eyes lock with mine. "Really. Only a complete failure would complain about a scratch like that." He gapes, nonplused, at my nodding figure. Then he rolls his eyes.

"Damn moron."

"Only for you, lover." He makes a gagging noise and pulls away from me until he's as far down the table as he can get.

"Dammit, you may be a fairy princess, but I am not. You can't say that shit to me!" If he were anyone else I'd say he was pouting. It's adorable.

"Hey, I was following the rules of a goopless relationship. You're the one who got all mushy." Gavin shoots me a very angry look. Eep.

"I was being a good person, dammit." The pouting is growing more pronounced. What a baby!

"You were being a chick."I correct him calmly. If he didn't want to kill me before, he definitely does now . . .

He looks as though he might stab me to death with his skateboard (owwww . . . ) so I quickly distract him. Claps for evasive action!

"Can you do any of those really complicated tricks like those guys over there?"

Gavin narrows his eyes at me evilly, like he knows exactly what I'm trying to do (which he probably does) and then turns reluctantly to face the practicing artists.

"Not all of those, but I can do some pretty tight shit."

"Really?" I practically scream. My appendage visibly flinches away from the sound.

"Yeah, and if you promise to never make that hellish sound again, I'll show you a few." This is so cool. He is so hawt. I am so lucky . . .

"You just want to show off for your lady friend." I tell him tauntingly.

I think I see his right eye twitch once before he snatches his skateboard off the ground and practically runs to the entrance. He kicks a poor defenseless trash can violently out of the way as he travels.


I run right up to the fence blocking off the edge of the practice arena and lean as far over as I can. How badly can I embarrass that poor, sweet man today? As he jogs out to the start of the course, I yell, "Go get 'em baby!!!" as loudly as possible. The result is priceless.

Gavin freezes mid-stride and gets so tense I can see the rigid line of his shoulders from here. Then, walking with his knees flexed so tight that he looks like some sort of robot, he continues to the ladder. I, of course, am howling with laughter. Oh, that was mean. But it was so much fun!!!

My laughter cuts off abruptly as he sails into the air. Now holding the top of the chain link fence so tightly the spires cut into my palms, I hold my breath and watch as he executes twirls and spins effortlessly.

"You dumb, dumb, stupid-" I manage tightly to myself. He is suicidal. And homicidal. He just has issues.

Another complicated turn has me slapping my hands over my eyes and groaning quietly. "Okay, you can stop now, you've made your point, I'll behave from now on, just please-"

I let out a shaky breath and peek quickly through a crack in my hands. Why is he so insane?! I really want to yell at him to stop it, but I'm terrified if I distract him he'll fall to the pavement and die. I whimper quietly and turn so my back is to the action, slowly sliding to the ground.

I pray frantically as the minutes tick by and the sounds of wood clacking echos from the range.

'Please don't let him break every bone in his body. Please don't let him break a single bone in his body. Please let him get back down here alive so I can kill him . . . "

In the strange, detached way of thinking that seems to haunt most of my transactions with a certain tattooed boy, my brain totally disconnects from my body. 'You know,' my now-floating brain comments nonchalantly. 'It really is a nuisance of a name.'

'Really.' My brain continues, 'You don't get more common than Katie. But Gavin fits him perfect- just a little different, just a little insane. It fits him like a glove.'

I like his name.

'Well, of course you like his name. It's a nice name. But it is strange. It's what makes him crazy. You have a normal name, so you're perfectly sane.'

Leave him alone. He may die today. How would you feel then?

My brain doesn't have time for a rebuttal, and in fact has to reconnect rather quickly, because at that moment the cause of all this trouble arrives.

I have to be talking out loud to myself, because as Gavin's voice floats down to my waiting ears, it sounds a little concerned.

"Um, Katie?"

"Are you alive?" I ask quickly, raising my head to look at him but keeping my hands clapped firmly over my eye sockets.

"Um, yeah. I think so." Relief washes over me and I launch myself at his knees, wrapping my arms around them rather tightly.

"Remind me to kill you later, when I'm not so thankful you're not dead!" I exclaim, voice muffled against his pant leg.

I can't see his face, but I can picture the pained expression from his tone of voice perfectly in my mind. "What the hell? Have you been drinking since I left?"

"No I haven't been drinking!" I glare up at him from my position still wound about his lower limbs. "I've been enlisting the powers that be into saving your sorry behind!"

Gavin's cluelessness begins to dissipate, and a smug grin settles onto his features.

"You were worried about me," He says slowly, smile growing wider with every word.

"NO!" I jump back as though I've been burned, scrambling to my feet so that I can argue more effectively. "I was not."

"Liar, liar," His sing-song voice would be comically out of place if I had time to notice. Right now, though, there's a slaying that needs to commence.

"Your confidence is disturbing. Why would I worry about you?" I set my hands on my hips and strike a stubborn pose, my stance hopefully strengthening my contestation, since it needs all the help it can get.

Gavin only crosses his arms and regards me with a fine-I'll-humor-you smirk. "My confidence?"

"Yeah." I stick out my chin defiantly, and really hope that he knows where this train of thought is going, because I have no idea.

"Well . . . you're just disturbing all over. Dammit." My obstinate features go slack as I regard him disbelievingly.

"Epic failure." I shake my head in disappointment at his lack of creativity, but before I can really berate him about it, he continues.

"Cut the crap, Katie, we both know you were worried about me because you like me." His tone is so triumphant it's almost entertaining. And really, the conversation is getting a bit absurd by this point . . .

Still, I should at least put up a fight. "No, I don't."

He remains silent, eyebrows stretched so high they disappear behind his bangs. Which really need a trim, but that can be dealt with later.

Oh, the ADD-ness of it all. I focus my thoughts and state, with a control I'm very proud of "I don't like your company. I just want your body."

I don't know which of us is laughing first, maybe it's kind of a duel explosion. I wrap my arms around him again and try to squelch my laughter into his chest, while Gavin tries to muffle himself in my hair. The result is we both look a little demented.

When the giggling subsides to a controllable volume (and after another barely-coherent argument regarding whether or not Gavin giggles- he so does) I manage to choke out an intelligible admission. "I wasn't completely lying, though."

Gavin's ears practically perk with interest, and he pulls back just enough to be able to see my red face.

"I . . . um . . . I have mildly inappropriate thoughts about you!" My blurted confession doesn't appear to faze him, and Gavin's tone is surprisingly bland for the innuendo in his statement.

"Really. Because I have incredibly inappropriate thoughts about you." The only sign that he acknowledges the subject we're discussing is the suggestive motion of his eyebrows, and the rather attractive leer on his face. Oh, dear.

Far from being disturbed, I breathe a huge sigh of relief. "Oh, good. I thought it was just me."

Shaking his head and casually grabbing my hand, Gavin starts leading me toward the exit. "You are so damn weird," he murmurs, and I think he might be laughing at me again. But that's okay. He has a beautiful smile.

We keep walking in uninterrupted silence as we make our way to the kiosk at the front and check in my Board of Death, and it's not until we exit the park that Gavin clears his throat and starts making clumsy conversation.

"Um . . . so, what you said before, about hating my company being a lie . . . " He's staring at the ground, and goes quiet when I don't respond.

"Yeah . . . " I prod him gently, wondering what on earth the crazy kid is twisting his head about.

"Does that mean you don't mind my hanging out in your room once in a while?" He rubs the back of his neck awkwardly and hastens to add "I'm not trying to be weird or any shit like that, I just . . . you know . . . I've had to wait a f–king long time to spend time with you, and . . . well. You know."

I can already feel myself melting into a puddle of goo, but he keeps going.

He's bright red, and I must be grinning at him all sappy, because he suddenly removes his hands from mine and sticks them in his pockets, scowling at the ground and muttering, "I mean I'm coming to visit you, you damn retard, and I don't give a shit whether you like it or not. Um, yeah . . . crap."

I laugh and I think I embarrass him, because he won't look at me the whole drive home. After giving him a quick kiss goodnight I solemnly apologize and tell him that I have wear the pants in the relationship, because he obviously has girl parts. I think he repeated some really bad words at the back of my head as I shut the door.

So. The mystery of the squatter is solved. And our first date didn't result in any deaths! I grin into my empty bedroom and roll my eyes at my giddy reflection in the mirror.

Just as I'm about to collapse into bed there's a muffled thump against my door. As I tug it open Gavin leans through and kisses me, only coming up for air long enough to say . . .

"I am not a woman, damn you!"