Summary: Two best friends. Two crushes. One love. And a red envelope that changes it all. ONESHOT

Dedicated to my friend, Nancy, who gave me the idea for the red envelopes, by exclaiming how much li xi money she had received for Chinese/Vietnamese New Year.


Red Envelopes

"Katie! Katie! Kitty, come on, we gotta go! We're going to be late!"

Kate Evans ran out her front door, slamming it behind her, running into her best friend, Robert Norton.

Robert and Kate had been friends from the moment Kate was born- no joke. After Kate was born, they were introduced. Their mothers had been friends at uni, and their friendship was destined to be when both of their mothers fell pregnant on the same month, fifteen years ago.

"Yeah, I'm coming, Bob!" Kate yelled back. She was the only person in the whole world allowed to call him Bob and she relished in that privilege. In the same way, Bob was the only person to call her Kitty.

They were mostly opposites: Bob was short, Katie was tall- which, in turn made them both the same height-; Bob had blonde hair and green eyes, while Katie's hair was a dark brown, and she had eyes the colour of hazelnut chocolate. Bob was always serious, while Katie always wanted to be reckless and fun.

The biggest difference, however, and the most obvious was the fact Bob was a guy- and Katie was a girl.

It was an obvious difference, of course, and they never thought about it- well, Bob never thought about it, because Katie sure did.

Katie wasn't blind- her best friend was gorgeous, and she knew more about him then anybody she knew. He was quiet, cool, calm, collected, and very kind.

As Bob stared at her with eyes that seemed to look into her soul, she shivered. "Are you cold?" he asked.

"No, I'm fine," she replied, disappointed that his eyes were now focused on the street ahead. "Let's go."

As much as it frightened her to admit it, Katie was in love with her best friend.

Putting her backpack on her shoulders, Katie walked beside Bob, and there was a comfortable silence between them. Then, Katie asked, "So, how've you been? I missed you this weekend."

Bob had gone on a camp somewhere that was something like a Nerd Camp for the weekend, and Katie hadn't gone. She had missed Bob like crazy, but obviously, he'd think it was because they couldn't spend more than a week apart.

"Fine- the camp was… interesting," he said, finally.

"What was so interesting?"

"The concepts we learnt, the teachers, the activities, the food… the people."

Katie stopped walking when she heard the last bit of that sentence. Trying to keep her voice casual, she said, "Anyone in particular?"

"No," Bob said, huffing. "Of course not."

But the way Bob had said it made alarm bells ring inside her. Out of everything, Katie trusted her intuition- it was one of the things she was most proud of about herself.

"Sure," she replied, in a light, teasing tone. But inside, her heart was sinking.

"What's it to you?"

"Robert James Norton, do you know who I am?"

"Of course. You're Katie. No offence, but what kind of dumb question is that?"

"Have you forgotten that I'm your best friend? I'm supposed to know who your crushes are."

Bob blushed. "Can it, Kitty Kat. I've got nothing to hide."

Katie all but melted when Bob called her nickname he had given her when they were two. But the alarm bells were still going off. "Robert. My intuition is all but exploding with feeling- you're hiding something."

He blushed, and she grinned triumphantly. She had won. But the sinking feeling was stronger this time- he liked someone.

"I'm not hiding anything."

"Suuuure."

"Kate, give it a rest! I'm not telling you anything! I don't like anybody, and if I did, I wouldn't be telling you."

Some sort of painful shock hit Katie's chest, and she could feel the hurt reflecting in her face. Turning her head away from Bob, she said softly, "If you feel that way, I'll back off. I'm sorry if I've been intrusive. I didn't know that fifteen years of friendship meant nothing to you."

"Katie, wait; I didn't mean it like that-"

"I know what you meant. I'm sorry."

With that, Katie crossed the road, away from her best friend- the one she loved- and she began to feel wetness on her cheeks. She was crying.

Her long hair covering her face, she walked to school, Bob watching her all the way, sincerely hoping this was some sick joke she was pulling, but he had a feeling that this was no act.

3 days later…

The other friends of Katie and Bob- Marella Sanchez, Carmen Rodriguez, and Jules Orton- were shocked. Katie and Bob usually made up at lunchtime when they were fighting, and it was usually Kate apologising. But now, it was Robert trying to do the apologising, and Kate wouldn't give him a second glance.

They didn't know what had happened, and they didn't know why, but Kate and Robert had come to school so glum it wasn't even normal. Robert might've been serious, but the two friends were always happy and relaxed around each other. It had been three days since they had stopped talking, and Marella, Carmen and Jules were worried.

Bob was hurt, and he knew it was his own damn fault, and he was considering suicide if Katie never wanted to talk to him again. The reason why he hadn't told her who he had a crush on was because he had a crush on Katie, his best friend, and that would be majorly awkward. He thought he could've spent his whole life just being her friend- as long as she didn't get married. It would totally ruin their friendship if he just blurted it out, and on the way to school wasn't really a good time to tell his best friend that he liked her. Except now, he'd probably already ruined their friendship because of his stupid outburst. He was planning to throw himself under a bus so she would feel better.

Katie was heartbroken. She couldn't feel anything anymore except pain. Bob and her were just never going to happen- ever. There was no point in hoping for them- not even as friends. Bob had been her friend since she was born, and she had loved him since she was ten. He had told her about all his crushes before, and so had she. She thought their friendship meant something to him- obviously, she was wrong.

So for three days, there was little conversation- if there was, it was Bob apologising- no shared Oreos, no weird "Bob and Katie" words, and no smiles. Their mood was ruining their other friends' days, and they had no idea what to do.

The third day, Katie and Bob didn't head for the cafeteria, and Marella zoomed into action. "We gotta do something," she said, slamming her fist on the table. "I can't stand it. It's like… I dunno- like there was no Twilight Saga or the Night World series, or something!"

Carmen looked out the window, and said softly, "Imagine them. It's probably like being without air."

Jules, the only boy sitting at the table said logically, "Well, we know two things they don't."

"What, exactly?"

"That Bob likes Katie, and Katie likes Bob, and they're perfect for each other?"

"That's three things, Jules. I never knew you were such a sop," Carmen said, her dark blue eyes behind her frames focusing on his face.

Jules held out his hands defensively. "Just because I'm stating the truth doesn't mean I'm a sop."

Marella rolled her eyes. "Okay, so we know that, but what can we do to get them together?"

"Get them to see they like each other," Carmen said simply.

Marella and Jules gaped at her. After a few minutes, Carmen simply said, "What?"

"Are you crazy?!"

"No," Carmen replied, sounding offended.

"We can't just do that, Car."

"And why not?"

"Because… we just… because we can't, that's why!" Jules spluttered.

Carmen rolled her eyes. "Have you got any bright ideas?"

The other two fell silent.

"See? My idea is the best."

"That's because it's the only one."

The three friends bickered, but then Carmen said, "Look, we don't just go up to them and say, 'Hey, your best friend likes you.' That's dumb. We just give them the confidence to try to do something awesome. Valentine's Day is coming up."

Again, the three friends fell silent, and Marella said, "It isn't such a bad idea after all."

Carmen's dark blue eyes rolled behind the frames of her glasses. "If you would've just listened to me five minutes ago…"

*****

"Hey bro!" Jules called out to Bob out in the hallway. "Wait up!"

Bob didn't want to slow down, but he did. It wouldn't be healthy for him to ditch all of his friends. "Hey Jules."

"So, what are you gonna do for Valentine's Day?"

Just the thought of the day made him depressed. "I don't know, man. I haven't really thought about it. How 'bout you?"

"I'm getting the girls some chocolate, and some money."

The money comment made Bob think. "Whoa, man, that's totally not traditional."

"It's Chinese New Year on Valentine's Day- that's why the girls are getting money. I'm putting it in red envelopes."
"Oh, I see," Bob replied, nodding his head.

"Marella, Carmen and I were wondering if you're going to come with us to the city for some yum chaand a chick flick for the girls. We'll probably go to the festival too. You in?"

"Is Katie coming?"

"Well- yes."

"Then I'm not going."

"Come on, man, suck it up!" Jules said, exasperated. "I don't know what the hell happened, but after fifteen years of friendship, you can't find it in yourselves, to be in five metres of each other? By the way, Marella isn't taking no for an answer. She's booking for five. If you don't show, she's gonna come to your place and drag you out."

With that, Jules abruptly turned away.

Bob was astounded. He'd never heard Jules so… persuasive before. He was now getting pushed by the crowds- he was standing in the middle of the corridor- but he didn't notice.

But Jules was grinning. He got his phone out of his pocket, and sent a text to Marella and Carmen: Operation Matchmaker: Phase 1a- Bob, is complete.

*****

Meanwhile, Katie was walking to her maths class when she was ambushed by Marella and Carmen. "Hey girl!" Marella said, slinging her arm over Katie's shoulder.

"Hey guys," she said, quite dully.

"So, Katie, you know how it's Valentine's Day on Sunday yeah? We're gonna go to the city and I'm making some bookings for yum cha, and after we're gonna catch a movie. We'll meet you at your place at ten."

"What?" Katie was barely listening.

Marella repeated what she had just said, and then Katie asked, "Is Bob coming?"

Carmen had felt her phone vibrate previously, and she knew Jules had completed Phase 1a of Operation Matchmaker. It was also bad to lie to Katie, because she had instincts so powerful it was like she was psychic. "Yes," she said, in her soft, dreamy voice.

"I don't think I can…"

But Marella wouldn't take no for an answer. "Girl, wake up and smell the roses! Rob is totally beaten up. Cut him a little slack. We all know guys aren't the most reliable beings around. Even if you're not dressed, I'm going over there and I'll drag you out." Although Marella, Carmen and Jules called him Bob behind his back, they never called him that when talking to him or Katie.

Katie shivered. She wouldn't put it past her. "Fine."

Marella's grin grew huge, and she began squealing. Carmen's face was still very serene, and she patted Katie's back while Marella was giving her a big hug.

Katie was confused at Marella's behaviour, but she said nothing about it. As Marella and Carmen headed to their science class, Marella took out her phone, and replied to Jules' message: Operation Matchmaker: Phase 1 is complete. C+M xo

*****

That night, Bob sat on his bed, thinking. In three short days, he'd realised something.

He didn't just have a crush on his best friend- he'd fallen in love with her.

It was crazy, and he knew it. But that old saying just kept echoing in his head: You don't know what you have until it's gone.

But their friendship was tarnished, and he had no idea what to do. But he missed Katie's feisty presence so much; he thought he was going to go insane.

So, Bob made one promise: he'd tell Katie about his true feelings on Valentine's Day; that his crush was her.

But how? It just doesn't seem right to just go up to her and tell her that. No, it had to be creative…

And then Bob found the perfect idea. After planning for a bit, he went to bed, slightly less stressed then he had been about an hour ago.

That Sunday…

Marella came to Katie's house, and hour early, and Katie was glad. She had no idea what to wear. She was nervous, and scared: she had decided that she was going to tell Bob that she was in love with him.

It was entirely irrational, but she was going to do it. She was going to blurt out her feelings, and if he didn't feel the same way, hopefully they could be friends again. It had been five days since the fight, and life without Bob by her side wasn't exactly easy.

In the end, Katie ended up wearing a chequered shirt (with reds and pinks in them) with a shirt underneath, jeans and some black, low top Chuck Taylors. Her long brown hair was down, and Marella had insisted Katie put on some make-up so her hazelnut eyes would pop out. Her slightly tanned skin had a sun-kissed look, due to Marella's bronzer, and she packed her stuff, and then they headed out, laden with their gifts.

Meanwhile, Bob was at his house, full of jitters. He was going to meet the rest of the gang at the bus stop at ten-fifteen, but he had no idea what to wear. He was going to tell his best friend he was in love with her, after all.

In the end, he decided on a chequered shirt, jeans and a pair of Chuck Taylors, and all but ran out the door, taking his Valentine's gifts with him.

When he saw Katie at the bus station looking at him, she looked… beautiful.

He didn't get why he didn't see it before. She was pretty. I mean, we had joked that people would be scared of our package deal that we would stay single forever… Bob thought.

Katie blushed, and Bob looked away.

Marella, Carmen and Jules had seen all this, and they were about to do their happy dance. Although they had never admitted it, they all knew they liked each other. It was in their faces. But Katie was more open about it than Bob, and to see Bob act like that meant he was finally embracing it.

There was an awkward silence over the five, so they were relieved when the bus arrived. In order to break the tension, Carmen and Marella sat with Katie, and Bob sat with Jules. Both parties observed that the two of them seemed nervous.

"Katie, are you okay?"

"Bro, what's up?"

"I'm fine, Mella. Just fine."

"Nothing, man. Nothing at all."
Marella and Jules shot anxious glances, and then looked away. But no one questioned them, because although they seemed anxious, they also seemed relatively calm- if that made sense. It was as if they were scared of doing something, but they knew what they were going to do was the right thing, and it would be okay.

When they got to the city, the Chinatown was packed. They managed to get to the front, to see heaps of the entertainment. Then Jules said, "Present time!"

Bob's heart was beating so fast he felt like he was going to have a heart attack. One by one, he gave each of his friends some chocolate, and a red envelope- five dollars each. And then, she reached Katie, who had just finished giving out her presents.

"Um, Happy New Year," Bob said.

Katie raised an eyebrow. "Robert Norton, not coherent? That's a shock." That had come out without thinking.
He grinned. "Well, Happy Valentine's Day too."

"Yeah, you too."

With that, he handed her the red envelope which he had fawned over for the past two days.

"Thanks."

Before Katie could say anything, he walked away. Hesitantly, she opened the envelope. Inside was a twenty dollar note, and one other note of another kind:

Dear Katie,

I hate fighting with you. That day, I thought we were just gonna make up by lunchtime, but it never happened, and it made me realise how much I take you for granted. You've just become such a big part of my life that I forgot how much you mean to me.

So I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to hurt you. If you really must know who my crush is… well, this is embarrassing, even in a note- it's you Katie. I've had a crush on you for a while now, but I thought it would ruin our friendship. But last Tuesday, I pretty much ruined it anyways, and an old saying kept echoing in my head: "You never quite know what you've got until it's gone." And that's what happened to me. I took you for granted, and I never thought for one second, how much it would hurt if you weren't there.

But I know what it's like, and I can't face it again. Two nights ago, I realised something else, and I know it seems horribly unromantic, writing this down, but… I'm in love you, Kate Evans, and I don't mean it in a friendship way. I think that conversation made me realise it. Although I never wanted to hurt you, this has opened my eyes. But if you don't feel the same way, I'll always be happy just to be your best friend.

Love from your best friend,

Bob.

Katie had tears in her eyes. She looked over to Bob, who was standing awkwardly, his face flushed. The other three were looking on with burning curiosity about that note.

Katie ran into Bob's arms, and hugged him. "I love you too," she whispered.

And Bob's heart slowed down, so happy and euphoric. He hugged her back. And with a little kiss, the other three started doing happy dances. Marella was squealing, with tears in her eyes. Carmen was smiling, and Jules was dabbing at his eyes and nose. Carmen looked over at him, and said, "I never knew you were such a sop."
"This is a true fairytale!" Jules' voice was breaking.

"Guys, I love you guys together, and all, but can you cut down on the PDA?" Carmen said jokingly.

The two broke apart and smiled. "Of course," they replied simultaneously.

After all, they didn't need kisses or hugs to show that they were in love; all they needed was each other- and their best friend.

THE END.


Reviews are greatly appreciated.

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