3.

Kay.

"Must you keep pinching me?" Kay grinned at the question and administered another pinch, this time to Christopher's cheek. "Apparently not."

"I just can't believe you're here!"

An rather less amused voice chimed in with, "Neither can I." Kaysee smiled apologetically at Ange, Chris was yet to apologise for his earlier behavior, but Kay was working on it.

"Well I am, and I'm really here to catch up with my friend- but someone is inconveniently in the way." Chris, whose voice was devoid of any sense of lightheartedness, replied. "Ow." Kay had wasted no time in pinching him for his comment, only not as playfully as before. Glancing at Ange, Kay noticed a slight blush crawling up her neck, and Kay wasn't at all impressed. She'd forgotten how blunt Chris could be.

Kaysee felt the need to pinch him again, harder, adding. "That was rude, Christopher."

"I should probably get going anyhow." Angela started to get up from the table,

"No, I was supposed to help you with algebra." Kaysee wasn't going to just drop everything because of Chris, especially if he was going to be an ass to her friend.

"How about I drop by tomorrow or…"

"Or not." Kay elbowed Chris in the ribs this time, had he gotten meaner while away?

"I know he's your friend, but he's a dick." Angela's glared at Christopher, who's light hazel stare gave nothing away, save for a slight superciliousness, which he seemed to radiate almost all the time anyhow.

"I know. I'm sorry on his behalf." She saw his eyes flick over to her for a brief second, but they returned to stare back at Angela again, the stillness seeming to state a simple 'leave now.'

She didn't know what to do, she knew Chris was immovable, but she didn't want Angela to feel like she had to leave. Kay hated the feeling that she had to choose.

However while she was trying to find a way to compromise, it seemed Angela was making the decision for her, "No, I've gotta help mom with the cooking." Pushing a few curls back from her face Ange stood up and walked out of the kitchen, "Just going to grab my bag from your room!"

With a look of keen disapproval at Chris who raised a blond eyebrow in response, Kaysee followed Angela upstairs. Stopping at her door while Angela grabbed her bag.

"You don't have to go Ange." She leaned against her door frame, arms folded to stop from tugging on her ponytail.

Angela grabbed her backpack, slinging it over her shoulder as she smiled at her friend. "Yes, I do. Told ya already, I've gotta help my mom out. Also," she lowered her voice, even though Kaysee saw no reason behind it, "if I stay any longer, I'll wind up killing someone." Kay laughed, but her laughter was intermingled with an uneasy feeling, confused as to whether or not Angela was actually joking.

They walked through the hallway to the stairs in silence, before Kaysee broke it.

"Look I'll call you when he leaves, okay?" Blocking Ange's way to the stairs, she really didn't want Ange to leave upset.

Angela inclined her head sideways, "Kay, you know I'm not mad at you, right? I just don't like that asshat downstairs, I'm not one of those clingy friends who get mad because you have a boyfriend." Ange grinned at her suggestively and Kaysee smiled at the preposterous idea.

"He's not my boyfriend." She responded, returning the grin. "I'll still call you after, you really need help with algebra." Ange snorted and pushed at Kay's shoulder,

"Algebra's stupid."

"No, but you flunking it will be." They walked back down; Kaysee's nagging conscience not allowing her to let Ange leave without trying to smooth things over. She glanced sideways at her friend, "I can get rid of him now, you know." She wanted to help Angela out with her algebra; the girl really did need the help.

"As much as I want to multiply x over y, or something, with you, I really do have to help my mom with dinner. Besides, seems like you and…" Ange trailed off as they reached the bottom steps, where they could see Bookie seated at the dining room table from across the room, his shoulders a little taut as if he knew he was being stared at.

"Hotter-with-the-glasses asshole guy?" Kay supplied, her lips quirked up into a joking grin.

"Ugh, shut up. What are the odds that not only is he the asshole that could've gotten me fired, but he's also your friend? Ridiculous. And I take it all back. He's not hot. He's so far from hot. He- he's cold. Reptilian." Kaysee couldn't stop help but roll her eyes, because the whole time Ange was talking she was primping her hair.

"Sure sure, Ange. What say I try to fix you guys up on a da-OW!" Christopher turned around as they passed by, cocking an eyebrow as Kaysee frowned, rubbing her right side. Kay wasn't exactly sure whether the physical abuse was a yay to a date with Chris, or a nay.

"Is your…friend, leaving?" There was no lift in the intonation of his voice to indicate that he was even asking, and the monotonic way with which he followed it up with "No, please stay. Bye," was just borderline robotic. Chris turned around before either of them could respond. His manners had certainly taken a dive since she last saw him.

As Kaysee opened the door and Ange stepped out she poked her tongue out in the direction of the dining room. "Real mature, Ange." Kay laughed.

"Sorry, I know he's your friend, or whatever, but my god is he unbearable. Is there anyone you won't befriend?" Ange hitched her backpack higher on her shoulder.

"He's one of my oldest friends, he's just- he's not great with first impressions, or second and third impressions." Her voice seemed to always be veering into the apologetic when trying to explain Chris, "Or even- okay he's pretty difficult, but he's- he's- " She exhaled quickly, expelling the air from her lungs in an attempt to buy time whilst she try to think of a way to describe Chris favourably.

"-still waiting for you to say bye to your friend." Chris stated, right behind her. Kaysee ignored him, "One gets used to him."

Angela scrunched her nose a little, shaking her head before turning around and starting towards her car. "Catch you later Grey!"

"I'll call you about algebra!" Kaysee closed the door, and leaned her forehead against the cool wood.

"Thought she'd never leave."

She rounded on him, "Seriously? You couldn't be civil for an hour?" A slight widening of his eyes behind his glasses was the only indication of surprise.

"I thought I did pretty well under the circumstances." He responded, a slight smile starting to peek through.

"I don't see you for, well for years, and haven't spoken to you for just as long and the day you get back you insult my friend." She tilted her head up, trying to see some part of him that felt a little bad about being so unpleasant. All she got was a smile, the dimple on his right cheek and a little shrug. Her lips pursed together slightly, unbelievable. About to push past him she noticed that beneath his glasses he had dark circles under his eyes, which, now that she was really looking at him, were slightly red. Kaysee took a deep breath, she rarely lost her cool and she especially didn't want to lose her cool with Chris. He'd only just got back, and to be honest what she really wanted was to sit down with him and talk for hours.

Shaking her head slight she reached up and took his glasses off. He frowned slightly, "I was right. You do look like an alien without your glasses on." She said mock-seriously. Enjoying the way his eyebrows furrowed slightly in a quizzical stare. Without his glasses on, his tiredness was more obvious. She frowned. Had he even been home?


Bookie.

He could admit that he had been a little harsh on her friend, but he really did want some time to catch up Kaysee. Her brown eyes had taken on a disappointed look, or was it concern? Her lips parted slightly as if she was about to say something but they pressed together again, having thought better of it. He figured it would be more admonishment about the way he behaved. His jetlag had really begun to catch up with him, but now that he was alone with Kay he felt a bit more awake and more agreeable. As agreeable as someone like him could be, anyway.

"An alien?" Was that a new kind of slang being used in the tri-state area he wasn't aware of?

Kaysee grinned broadly, something he never understood about her, the ease with which she could smile. Sure the physical movement was easy enough, however with Kay's smiles there was a genuine quality to it that he could only really replicate in her presence. Although he wasn't completely aware of that fact until today, when he saw her again.

She'd gotten taller since he last saw her, however the changes didn't stop there. Despite his shortcomings in normal human behaviour, or rather what was considered 'normal' he was still, if anything, a guy. And any guy would notice the way her shirt clung to her figure, which was certainly more mature since he'd last seen her. The three years he was gone were just as kind, if not more so, to Kaysee as it had been to him. She'd always been pretty, but when he came back on vacation during his first year of college, it was the first time that he really noticed it. He remembered that she had started going out with some kid, Bookie thought it was cute, until he realized that the guy was his age and heard about the way he dated, and it wasn't monogamously. Bookie wondered if Kay ever found out that he was the reason her boyfriend decided their 'relationship' wouldn't work. He wasn't going to allow some hormonal jackass to dick around his friend, so before he left for college again he arranged a little get-together with the asshole. Having called a few favours, he had a friend hack the guy's computer to discover some sordid shit Chris threatened to reveal if he didn't break it off with Kay.

He left with a clear conscience, because the shit this guy had on his computer wasn't only disgusting but illegal, in the eyes of the law as well as God, if there was one.

"-and I was only at your place a few days ago!" He hadn't realized that his trip down memory lane made him zone out. He really was tired.

"Sorry, what?" She shook her head, before moving closer to put his glasses back on. Bookie noticed she was only a couple inches shorter than him; she didn't even need to stand on her tiptoes to put his glasses on. Aware of how close they were standing he breathed in, committing her scent to memory. She still had a smattering of freckles over her nose, he found himself wondering if that was the only place she had freckles.

She grabbed his hand and tugged him towards the hall, "Mom's gonna freak when she sees you." He noticed that he hadn't seen her mother at all, when they reached her office that was on the other side of the house and burst in without knocking, they found Kaysee's mother asleep at her desk. From what he could remember of her, Katherine Darling-Grey was a career-driven woman, and finding her dozing at her desk wasn't something he would have anticipated. Even less so was the fact that her desk was a mess, and in her hand was a cup of brandy (judging by the empty bottle of brandy on the desk). He always imagined the Grey's mother to be an 'organized to the point of compulsion' kind of woman who kept a firm hand on her work and drinking habits.

Kaysee let go of Bookie's hand and walked over to her mother, he couldn't see her expression but from the way she started clearing up Katherine's desk, he gathered this wasn't a recent development.

"She's been spending a lot of time at the office lately, some big merger or something." He watched as Kaysee carefully took the glass out of her mother's hand and placed it on a filing cabinet with the empty bottle, before gently shaking her mother awake.

"Mom, maybe you should go to your room, or lie down on the couch?" Katherine sat up slowly, her eyes appeared bleary, and the dark circles beneath them more prominent than Bookie's own jet lagged ones.

"Huh? Oh honey, I'm sorry. Did we have dinner plans?" She looked towards the door, realizing they weren't alone she raised an eyebrow slightly, "Or, do you have your own?" Bookie summoned up a disarming smile.

"Hi Mrs. Grey."

"Mom, it's Christopher," Kaysee said with a slight laugh, but he noticed her smile didn't quite reach her worried eyes, which continued to check her mother over.

"Oh, little Christopher, you're all grown up." Keeping his smile in place Bookie stopped himself from making a rude comment about being not so little anymore. "When did you get back in town from, was it Amsterdam?" She was looking more alert now, as if mentally smoothing herself out, Katherine seemed to visibly appear sharper as she sat up straighter and the look of being half asleep seemed to fall away from her appearance.

"Stockholm, actually, I was in Amsterdam last year I believe." Bookie noticed Kaysee's attention turn back to him, her eyebrow lifting up in inquisitively.

"Stockholm," She nodded, as if conforming something that she hadn't said out loud, "it's been a while since I've had dinner with your parents. Maybe we should schedule one in before you have to leave again. Which, I assume, will probably be soon?" It was interesting, once alert she switched into lawyer mode, and with lawyer mode came slightly disapproving of Bookie mode. Bookie always had a feeling Katherine didn't relish his friendship with Kay very much. He hadn't been the most adorable of kids, and it always felt like Katherine could see into his soul with that steely grey gaze. If Bookie had the capacity to be intimidated, she would be the one to do it.

"Mom, he just got in today. I don't want to think of Chris leaving, we've got a lot to catch up on!" Kay protested, before Bookie could make a snide remark about assumptions. She stood up from where she'd been leaning against her mother's desk, "We'll let you get back to work mom, c'mon Chris."

"Tell your parents I'll be in touch." Bookie heard, he turned to give a somewhat forced smile before exiting the office.

"Mom, please try to get some rest." Kay was saying just about to leave, Bookie could no longer hear Katherine's side of the conversation. "Yes, mom." Silence. "Don't be ridiculous, okay- well remember to eat something. I can make you- no? Oh. Okay. Love you." She slipped out of the office and closed the door behing her. She leaned back against it, eyes closed, head slightly elivated. Bookie didn't know what was going on in her head, and for a moment he thought maybe she'd fallen asleep against the door before she opened her brown eyes and trained them on him.

"Have you had anything to eat?" She asked,

"Now that you mention it, all that unpleasantness from earlier worked up quite an appetite." Kaysee pushed herself away from the door towards him, poking a finger at his side,

"That's not funny. You owe Ange an apology." She grabbed his hand, dragging him towards the stairs. "I'll order us some pizza."

Bookie laid back, stomach full and eyes heavy. They had demolished two large pizzas, He stared up at Kay's bedroom ceiling not recognising most of the faces on the hundreds of photos she had up there, he noticed the stars haphazardly placed around them and instantly knew they would glow in the dark. For a moment he felt the urge to turn off the lights throwing the unknown faces into darkness and seeing only the highlighted yellow colour of the glow-in-the-dark stars.

"I'm going to have a food baby." Kaysee groaned from her spot at her desk chair, Bookie lifted his head to look at her, she was sprawled over the chair, limbs all flung out in starfish formation, he didn't even realise he was grinning.

"Yeah, you ate a whole pizza by yourself." He responded drily, allowing his head to drop back once again.

"Blah blah, I was hungry." He heard the sound of the desk chair move as Kaysee stood up, before she collapsed beside him on the bed. Neither of them said anything, the air in the room suddenly charged with the lack of chatter. They laid there, side by side, legs hanging off the side of the bed, and for a moment Bookie was transported back to a moment like this. It was before he left for college, fifteen and trying to act like he wasn't a little bit daunted by the prospect of leaving his home. Kaysee, barely thirteen, asking him if he was going to keep in touch with her. Chris didn't make the promise because he knew he wouldn't keep it, there were times when he had thought about calling her, but he never did. And he knew, right now, that that was what Kaysee was thinking about right now. Bookie had his eyes closed, aware of how close she lay, his arm that was lightly touching hers tingled slightly. When she moved, he felt his flesh erupt into goosebumps as her warmth left him.

His disappointment didn't show on his face. "Chris?" He opened an eye, "Why didn't you keep in touch?" She had propped herself up on her elbow, head resting on her hand as she stared down at him. He studied her face, there was a little scar, barely visible, along her jawline. Resisting the impulse to reach over and trace the scar with his fingertip he let his eyes rest back on hers. They were as open as ever, he once told her she'd suck at poker because every emotion she felt was displayed on her face for the world to see. Although he wasn't so sure about that now, perhaps her pokerface was that seemingly open expression. Bookie thought he could read her but there was something about the openness of her expression that wasn't so accesible. For instance, she was smiling, but there was something closed off behind her eyes. It was the same sort of sense he'd picked up on when she was laughing off her concern about her mother.

She shifted to lie on her stomach, propped up on her elbows, her side pressed against his. Her voice was "I know you said you probably weren't going to, but I needed your advice sometimes Chris." For once, his detached manner felt forced, unsure of what to say, he let his eyes move back up to the ceiling of faces that belonged to people who'd been a better friend than he had been for the past few years. He never opened her emails, lumping them in the same folder he put his family emails. "But you were out creating weapons of mass destruction no doubt." She said, probably trying to lighten the mood. She leaned in, nudging him. Her grin was wide, but the smile didn't reach her eyes.

"Yeah. I think we developed a new kind of tear gas that makes soldiers cry… tears of blood." Kaysee shook her head, her wide grin still intact.

"You're such a weirdo." He smiled back, knowing she wasn't going to press him. As he began to respond he yawned, his eyes watering as he yawned a few more times. He really should have taken that nap before coming over here.

"Have you had any rest?" Kay asked, frowning. Bookie waved her off. "Dude, get some sleep. I have to go call Ange."

Between yawns he managed to get out an insult, which earned him a light punch in the side. "Seriously, take your shoes off and lie down properly. I'll go grab you another blanket." Bookie shook his head and sat up, but Kay was faster. She'd whipped off his glasses and was standing over him, truth is, he didn't want to get up.

"Get some rest, when you wake up you can go home." He didn't bother waiting for her to go get a blanket, just climbed under her sheets and before he realised what was going on, he'd fallen asleep.


A/N: It's been a while. (She whispered into the empty abyss.)

Lo siento. I'm sorry. Fa'amalie atu.

All of the above.

In case anyone is wondering, this was extremely difficult to get back into. I wasn't even sure I could get back into the characters' heads. And it's been so long. Bore alert: I'm in the middle of job hunting. Dear god is the job market a bitch. That's why I did a postgraduate year. Maybe I should do another year, Masters anyone? Haha no, money now. Me poor, me need money. Bore alert edit: Job status changed before I could update this story, guess who's a working girl now! Okay, not in that way. I'm classy. Well. Anyhoo, after years of studying english literature and theory I've wound up working in an insurance loss adjusting firm. I don't even. Okay, sorry BOOre alerts over.

Babbling…nonsensical bull with poor grammar, sorry again.

I've missed you, speak to me? (She whispered to the space occupied by no one.)