Kira thought about what she wanted a lot. Her mind was muddled and confused and she just didn't know what she wanted. What if she went back to Sydney and regretted it? What if she applied for that vet science course and hated it?
Honestly, the only thing she could agree on wanting was Tristan, and that pissed her off to no end. He was pretty much ignoring her again, the bastard. He'd asked her if she was okay when everyone else was around and had even awkwardly signed her cast. He'd written 'get better' – Kira wasn't impressed. What the hell kind of comfort could she get from that? Katrina had even written a better message, saying, 'you'd better leave those horses to me, hun! Heal up quick smart xox.' So, Kira was not holding back on the dirty looks. She'd had years of practising that glare to perfect it, and Tristan was really feeling the fire from it. He was looking awfully dodgy and nervous the whole time and Kira was revelling in it.
By the time they got home it was only one in the afternoon, but Kira was exhausted. She yawned and made her excuses, saying no to any lunch, and went straight to her room. She was in the middle of peeling off her old clothes when there was a knock on her door. She called out, "hold on!" then opened the door when she was dressed in her pyjamas. Well, her pants, at least, because the shirt was going to take so much longer with her stupid arm in a stupid cast. She'd already bumped it against pretty much every thing in her room trying to get her pants off. She was not looking forward to the next six to eight weeks. Life was going to be hard.
Tristan was standing in the hallway when she opened the door. She was so shocked it took her a while to respond.
And when she did, all she said was, "Uh…"
"Can I come in?" Tristan said, looking uncharacteristically hesitant and nervous.
"Ah, sure," Kira said, jolting and sidestepping out of the way. She watched as Tristan came in, closed the door, and stood in the middle of the room. Kira hated feeling this uncomfortable and vulnerable. She hated Tristan for putting her in this position. "So… are you here to tell me how much you don't like me again," she deadpanned. She wanted to cross her arms so badly but her arm was in a sling. She was sure she looked ridiculous.
Tristan huffed out a breath, pushed his hand through his hair and sat down on the edge of the bed.
"Look, Kira, about what I said…"
"Oh, about how you kissed me then said you were confused? I remember that quite clearly. Please, go on."
Tristan made eye contact with her, lips pressed together tightly. "You don't make this easy, you know."
Kira threw up her arms – wait, ow, okay she threw up one arm – and sat down in her chair, snapping, "I'm so sorry this is so hard for you. I have a bloody broken arm, buddy! Hurry this up!"
He glared at her.
"You're acting like a spoilt child," he said angrily. "If you'd stop with your snappy comments for one second, you'd realise that I'm trying to tell you how I feel!"
"Because that's exactly the first thing that would pop up in my head, especially after our last conversation about feelings!"
"I'm trying, okay! This isn't easy for me!"
"And, what, you think this is easy for me, Tristan?" Kira cried. "I opened myself up to you, told you something I've never told anyone, and you pretty much threw it back in my face!"
"I didn't do anything like that with your father—"
"But you did with my feelings! And I don't do that, Tristan! I don't go around opening myself up to just anyone! You hurt me! I like you, Tristan, I really, really like you and I'm not used to feeling like this about anyone. But I am not going to stand for this hot and cold bullshit you're such a fan of. Either you like me or you don't. Simple as that. And I was pretty sure a few days ago, you said you didn't like me. So what the hell are you doing here?"
She was standing up by this time and so was Tristan. He took two quick steps, took her face in his hands and planted a quick kiss on her lips before she tore away.
"You do not get to kiss me when I'm gross and un-showered and you're still confused!"
"If you shut up for a minute and let me talk, I'd tell you what I'm here for!" he yelled, stopping her righteous indignation in its tracks. She'd never really heard him yell, other than that very first day when she'd left the gate open. "All you do is chatter on and you don't even give me a chance to think, let alone form any sentences for you! I try but you go from calm to angry and back again in seconds and I can't keep up!" He took a deep breath, visibly claming himself down. "What I came here to tell you is that yes, of course I like you. You're so spoilt and city and blunt and I can't help but love how you say what you think. You don't hide behind any false pretences and some of the stuff you say is… well, it's utterly ridiculous, but it's so you. And you're so much more than what I'd first thought. I'd judged you as shallow and weak yet you're the strongest woman I know. You've dealt with stuff no one should've had to deal with, yet you've come out on top of it. I… well, yeah, I like you. A lot. And it's taken me a while to get that sorted in my head."
Kira's mouth was dropped open. Finally, she managed to say, "I've noticed."
Tristan just stood there, awkwardly shuffling from foot to foot while Kira stared at him. He just looked so damn adorable, standing there with his heart open to her. Truly, Kira had no choice but to step up to him, fling her arm around him and kiss him. He responded quickly, wrapping his arms around her and drawing her tight to him as his lips moved smoothly and wonderfully against hers. But then she yelped and jumped back.
"My arm!" she hissed, cradling it. "Goddammit this is going to be annoying."
Tristan smiled slowly before he began laughing. His laugh was so beautiful and handsome that she couldn't help but forget her pain and join in a little bit.
"I'm pretty sure we'll be able to find a way around it," Tristan said when his chuckling died down a little. His hazel eyes were sparkling as he gazed at her and Kira couldn't help but lean forward and kiss him again, keeping a good gap between her arm and his torso.
She could get very used to this, kissing Tristan whenever she wanted.
They didn't even try to hide the fact that they were together from her mother and Katrina. Jake couldn't care less, but Katrina was ecstatic when she found out.
"I bloody knew it!" she cried, pumping her fist into the air. "I was always such a third wheel with you two and your bucket loads of shmexual tension. And now you're together! I should've put money on this happening or something…"
Anna took it a bit more differently. She smiled mildly but didn't look surprised at all, either. She just told them that they were not to sleep in the same bed, under her roof or in the Shearer's Quarters. Kira didn't really care, though. She didn't really care about much, though, other than the fact that she was on cloud nine with Tristan. He had become so much freer over the past few days, easily laughing and smiling with her. He still didn't put up with her shit though, not allowing her to slack off when they went out. Kira only spent a day in bed, as the doctor prescribed, before she was up and about again, dosed up on painkillers and pretty much useless. She could barely even manage to get a gate open, but she was learning special techniques to doing it.
It was a week after her accident and they were out in the paddock next to the yards, washing out the water tubs. It was disgusting and she'd tried to get out of it, but Tristan hadn't let her. One look from him and she'd melted, though she'd tried to cover it by acting all reluctant. She doubted he'd bought it, though.
She looked ridiculous. She had board shorts on and a t-shirt, but her cast was covered in a plastic bag, taped so it was watertight around her arm. She had a scrubbing brush in one hand and was looking at the tub filled with algae and moss disdainfully. Tristan was also in shorts and gumboots, and was scrubbing the side of his tub vigorously.
"This is absolutely disgusting," she sneered.
Tristan paused and looked up at her with a grin. "Don't be such a little princess. You'll be right."
Kira gave him a totally unimpressed look but gingerly squatted down anyway, beginning to scrub slowly. The algae was all so gooey and green and red and yuck. She kept her other arm well out of the way, holding it up to balance herself.
Tristan had done about four by the time she'd finished one. She was just fetching the next one when Tristan spoke up.
"You know," he said casually. "I used to have a bit of a crush on you."
Kira stopped abruptly and jerked upright.
"You what?" Kira yelped; half shocked, half amused. Now Tristan was blushing and Kira couldn't help but grin widely. "How in the world did that happen? You had a crush on me!" she couldn't help but repeat.
Tristan frowned. "You don't need to keep repeating it," he muttered. "I just… thought I should tell you. Sharing, you know, part of any good relationship."
"You can't just leave it at that though," Kira said with a sly smile. "Gimme more details!"
Tristan sighed roughly and reluctantly said, "Well, your mum was always so bloody proud of you and all your achievements. She used to show all these photos and you were so… well, you were gorgeous." His voice was getting progressively lower and he was blushing even harder now. Kira was just grinning widely. "She went on and on about you – I pretty much know everything you did in college."
"You're a bit of a stalker, aren't you?" Kira asked.
"What? No! I didn't tell you this so you could make fun of me, Kira," he said with a frown. "I'm trying to do this whole trust thing."
"I think it's adorable," Kira said with a bright smile. "I would so give you a kiss right now if you weren't covered in that foul smelling stuff."
"I'll come and collect it later, don't you worry," he said, with a smile that sent shivers down her spine. For the rest of the day, she could barely concentrate on scrubbing the disgusting tubs.
A few weeks later, Anna dropped a letter on the table next to Kira's breakfast of avocado and tomato toast.
"You've got mail," she said, sitting in the chair next to her and raising her eyebrows, "from Charles Sturt University. Why would you be getting mail from Charles Sturt?"
Kira look at the envelope with wide eyes. She didn't expect it to come so soon. Was it really almost the end of January? Everything had flown by in some kind of daze. She knew that she was acting like a lovesick idiot – the kind she despised – but Tristan was just so perfect. He was a great listener and had a quiet kind of humour – his looks were a huge plus as well, of course.
She… may have applied for the vet science course a while ago, in a fit of insanity, and not told anyone. Just to see if she got in, you know, nothing else. She hadn't expected anyone else to know but now Anna was looking at her so expectantly.
"I…" she started hesitantly, "may have applied for that post-grad course at Charles Sturt?"
Anna's whole face lit up and she leant forward and hugged Kira tightly.
"Oh, I'm so glad! I wasn't sure if you'd listened to anything that I'd said but you had and you applied, all on your own, and I'm so proud of you!"
Kira was surprised at the force of Anna's happiness. She'd known her mother would be happy but hadn't realised it had meant this much to her.
"I-I don't even know if I'm in yet," Kira said, slowly hugging Anna back before pulling away. She was even more nervous now than before, her stomach a mess of knots.
"Honestly, darling, I'm just so happy that you applied," Anna said softly. "But go on, open it."
Kira stared down at the letter. Why was it so hard to open it? She didn't even want to go to university out here. She wanted to go back to the city. So she should just be able to open it and see if she got in – it would be easy.
But she just couldn't bring herself to open it.
"You do it," she said, pushing the envelope towards Anna. Her mother didn't hesitate at all. She ripped open the envelope and pulled out the paper. Her eyes quickly scanned it before her face lit up.
"You're in!" she cried, jumping up and holding the paper up in the air. "I can't believe it, you're in!"
Kira jumped up with a squeal, wrapping her arms around her mother and dancing around. She snatched the piece of paper from her mother and scanned through it until she got to the 'you've been accepted' part, which set her off into another round of celebration.
"When does it say you start?" Anna asked. "We'll have to go shopping for all your supplies and organise how you'll get there, if you'll stay on campus…"
And then a thought occurred to Kira – did she really want to go do vet science at this bumpkin university? That sobered her quickly. Yes, she'd gotten in, but she'd just wanted to see if she could though, right? She wanted to go back to Sydney, because… well, the only reasons Kira could think of was because her full wardrobe was there and so were most of her friends. But she'd made great friends with Katrina out here and she wasn't exactly anti-social, so she could make more easily. As for the first reason, that could just give her a reason to buy more clothes, which she loved doing.
It all came down to playing it safe, really. Going back to Sydney was the safe option. Hell, it had been the safe option for years. But she'd taken a chance and come back here, despite the horrible memories this place contained, and met Tristan. She wouldn't've known him, otherwise. She would've stayed in her comfort zone in Sydney, doing the same things, seeing the same people. She'd never really thought of herself as the type of person who wasn't open to new things. Actually, she liked to think of herself as pretty daring, but she could hardly be called that if she didn't even want to step outside her comfort zone, right?
What did she have to lose, anyway? She, grudgingly, loved the farm and the people on it. And she sucked at long distance relationships.
Maybe she might regret it later, but she threw caution to the wind and said, "So when do you think I should go over and check out the on-campus living?"
Kira made Anna promise not to say anything to Tristan until she told him herself. Somehow, she managed to keep her silence all day, which was a miracle since she was a horrid liar. Tristan liked to remind her of that constantly. She'd told Katrina, who'd been even more excited than she was when she'd found out about her and Tristan. They'd jumped around the room a few times, chattering in high voices about living arrangements and buildings and other university related things. She was feeling more and more sure that she'd made the right decision but she was still nervous to tell Tristan.
She'd conspired with Katrina to be alone with Tristan. So when they were on the veranda, Katrina pretended to be very tired and left them alone quite early on in the evening. With her gone, Kira felt less awkward about PDA so snuggled into Tristan's chest happily. He wrapped his arms around her as she found a comfortable position, with her head against his shoulder.
"So…" Kira said slowly. "I have something to tell you."
"I knew it," Tristan said triumphantly. "You've been acting funny all day. What is this about?" He paused and Kira could feel him grow tense. "This isn't about… you going back to Sydney, is it?"
They'd avoided this topic whenever it had come up. Tristan had actually brought it up a few times, at first, but Kira couldn't give him an answer which would just make him angry. So they'd ignored it and it had become a very sensitive subject.
"Well… yes, it kind of is."
Kira could only really see the bottom half of Tristan's face, but she could see that his jaw tightened.
"So you're leaving."
It wasn't even a question, the assuming bastard. Kira scowled at the side of his face.
"Why would you just assume that?"
"Because you haven't made any other plans. It seems pretty obvious that you've just been biding your time until you returned to the city."
Kira pulled away, hurt.
"That's what you think this is? Me, 'biding my time'?" Tristan didn't look at her but the answer was obvious in his stubborn, tense face. She stood up angrily. "I was going to tell you that I was accepted into Charles Sturt and that I'm going there next month. But since you obviously have no real investment in this relationship, I don't even know why I told you!"
Kira stalked away, fists clenching and fuming. She didn't get far. Tristan grabbed her my the wrist and whirled her around, sweeping her up into a hug.
"You're kidding!" he cried into her ear, his smile taking up his entire face. He let out a laugh. "You're staying!"
Kira wanted to push him away and stay angry, but it was melting fast. She could feel her own excitement bubbling up again in her chest, matching his.
"I know, I can't believe it either," she said. One second her feet were on the ground and the next, he'd picked her up and spun her around. She let out a giddy laugh as the world spun by, Tristan the only thing solid. He placed her down and kissed her immediately, hungrily.
Unfortunately, they were interrupted.
"Does that mean you've told him?" Katrina called out from the doorway of the Shearer's Quarters. "Or have you been too busy making out to say anything?"
Kira groaned. "Way to ruin the moment, Katrina," she snapped, but the girl just grinned back impishly, totally unaffected. She even gave them a cheeky wave as she disappeared.
Kira buried her head into Tristan's warm shoulder and groaned again. Tristan just chuckled and kept his arms around her.
He ducked his head down and gave her a light kiss on her hair, whispering, "I'm glad you're staying around."
Kira's arms tightened as a brilliant smile spread across her face. All her worries were gone.
"So am I."
A/N: I am honestly going to miss this story and Kira's ridiculous character so much. I wrote this in a pretty short space of time (for NaNoWriMo) so I feel like it's one of my most consistent stories, plus I really got to know the characters so well. I'm so sad now! There was going to be an epilogue but it just didn't work, so this is it. Thank you for reading this and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did writing it!