In the morning, Krista was a nervous wreck. She knew it was silly, but she couldn't stop herself from being jittery. If she were meeting him for the first time she doubted she'd be this anxious, but as it stood this was a man that she'd known for years, and he'd known her intimately their entire life. He'd seen sides of her, and parts of her, that no one else had. Still, it had been twelve years, and she knew she wasn't the ideal prize that he deserved; she had a child and an ex who wasn't doing much to help support them. But, despite all that, she didn't want to lose him. Not again, she wasn't sure she could do that. It would be one thing for them to settle into old roles; friends, but if he left again, she wasn't sure she could handle it. Better not to get started then – no that was silly.
Krista chewed her lip as she looked in the bathroom mirror; she'd been primping her hair for the last fifteen minutes, and it still looked the same. Her makeup was finished a few minutes before. She'd lined her eyes in black and shaded the lids with varying tones of bright pink (though not enough to look like a little girl who had broken into her mum's makeup bag). Roo had always had a fondness for vibrant pink tones, whether it was for her makeup, or in his choice of clothing, and she hoped he still did. It was childish really, but she hoped the pink eye shadow would make him notice her a little more. She quickly checked her watch; it was already 11:15 am, and they were supposed to meet at Café Rogue for around half-passed. It wasn't a long trek from her home to the restaurant, but she still wasn't sure she could get there for 11:30. She silently cursed herself for bothering with her hair when showing up would be more impressive to the man she was meeting. She checked herself over one last time; normally she didn't wear sundresses, but this one was a pin-up inspired one; black and covered in printed cherries. Coming to terms with the fact that she looked all right, she chewed her lip and grabbed her purse and headed to the door. Delta Rue was currently being watched by a close friend of hers; she was only going to be gone for a few hours at the most.
When Krista arrived at Café Rouge, she checked her watch while standing on the door step. 11:35 am. She was still on time as far as she was concerned, after all they had agreed on meeting "around 11:30". She took a deep breath, fixed herself up just a little (fluffing her hair out again) and pulled the door open already. She had every intention of being the first one there (Roo was never known for being on time in social matters. For class he was always ridiculously early, but on social calls he seemed to forget what was happening and almost always came half an hour late.), finding a table for them, and then sitting and trying to keep calm for when he arrived at noon. Stepping into moderately dimly lit building, she was shocked to see Roo already sitting, tucked away, at a table set for two. At first she thought she was seeing things; a trick of the mind while trying to adjust to the lowlight of Café Rouge after coming in from the sun. But, she soon realized that what she was seeing was no figment of her imagination.
Rupert was seated at a table, maybe twenty feet into the building from the front entrance. Spotting Krista, he smiled and rose to his feet, out of habit, and out of courtesy in the chance she had not spotted him. He lifted a hand and waved to his date, as his smile spread. "Krissa!"
Krista chewed her lip, trying to fight off the leaping that her heart managed to perform the very instant that she laid eyes upon the man. She fought back a grin that was quickly winning against her meager attempts of subtly. Brushing her hair back from her face, she made her way to the table that he'd picked for the two of them. She didn't know why she was so nervous; it's not like she'd never had lunch with him before- oh. But, she hadn't; not in these circumstances. She'd never gone years without seeing him before, and most of all, she'd never had a date with him, if one could call this meeting a date; a pseudo-date in that case. She swallowed slowly, trying to keep her calm as she arrived at the table. But, the moment she was within the same few feet as Roo, she broke into a grin. All she wanted to do was hug him, even if it wasn't entirely proper. "Roo…" she swallowed again as she came to a halt in front of the standing young man. She had to crane her neck back ever so slightly in order to look him in the face without him stooping lower; typically, if she did not tilt her head back, she would find herself looking at his jaw as opposed to his eyes.
Roo saw the apprehension in her, it was almost radiating out from her body. And, he knew that he'd put it there with the way he'd reacted that day in Greenwich Market. Internally he cursed himself for putting fear into her; she'd been able to reach out to him that day with little to no qualms (though he realized that she'd completely abandoned her dignity in those moments in order to keep him from walking out of her life again), and she'd been able to chat with him on the phone the night before. He really wished that she wasn't viewing him as some sort of beast to tread lightly around. But, he didn't know quite what to do to ease the situation. Part of him wanted to reach out and grab her; hug her until she was begging for him to let go, while the other was less ostentatious about it; just wanting her to be at ease, without frightening her further. His uncertainty led to awkwardness. Roo lifted a hand and rubbed at the back of his neck when he realized that he'd been staring at her for a moment to long without responding to her. "I…er…" he blushed a little before suddenly moving his hand and motioning for her to seat herself. When she flinched at this sudden movement, he squeezed his eyes shut tightly, going back to his mental berating of himself. "Sorry…"
Krista shook her head a little embarrassed as she seated herself. But, her eyes lingered on his; he'd squeezed his eyes shut as though he was upset that he'd caused her to flinch. Had she flinched? She hadn't meant to; sudden movements always put her on edge. Other than Jason, her last boyfriends had not been physically abusive, it was more of a learned behaviour from having a small child. As sweet as Delta Rue was, she had a tendency to swing her arms and hands around. Therefore, Krista had been hit in the face with a few hands, and a few toys. She'd simply flinched because quick movements put her on edge. "No, don't be sorry. It wasn't your fault." she smiled and held out her hand, motioning for him to take his seat across from her once more.
Roo gratefully took his seat across from her, and tried to move passed the incident. "Thanks.", he smiled gently. When was he the one that started being nervous? He shook it off.
"No problem." Her voice trailed off, and the two people were left simply staring at each other in silence. Oh. This would be harder than they thought.
"Oh! You're all pink!" the moment it left his mouth Roo knew that that was the stupidest thing he could have said. But, at least it wasn't hurtful in anyway.
Krista bit her lip and glanced down at the table top as she grinned in a mildly-sultry manner. She lifted her eyes once more, in order to look into his face. "I hope you still like pink? I thought if I wore pink makeup you'd—"
"Oh! You're makeup is pink! I actually meant that your whole face was flushed like – sorry." He flared red and put his face into his hands. Correction: that had been the stupidest thing he could have said to her. "Really I'm sorry…"
Krista, despite being embarrassed, tried to brush it off. It wasn't worth being upset over; it was actually sort of funny. At least it would be if she herself wasn't already self-conscious about the situation that they were in. "It's okay."
"Did you run here? I hope you didn't. I would have picked you up if I realized that-"
"Well… I jogged." She admitted "I didn't want to be late and leave you hanging. But actually I got a bit of a sunburn yesterday."
"Oh?" Roo looked up at her properly once more. But, before he could be answered, the waiter came by, asking for their drink orders.
Two minutes later, after simultaneous orders of iced tea, the couple were free to go back to their conversation.
"How did you get a sunburn?" Roo looked concerned, even over such a simple occurrence.
Krista smiled and shrugged easily. "I took Delta Rue to Beaver Water World."
Roo's brow raised a little, "in Surrey?"
"Uh… pretty sure that's the only place with the name 'Beaver Water World'" Krista giggled a little, finding herself falling back into that comfortable zone as the tension between them melted off once again.
"I thought you didn't drive? It's not like it's right around the corner."
Krista shrugged her shoulders as she settled her hands into her dress-covered lap. "Well, for the trip there I loaded the two of us onto the bus. It was the longest trip for a forty minute drive that I've ever seen: two hours, and a few different buses."
"With a child that young?" this time both of his pale brows lifted high. "That must have been a trouble and a half."
"Actually, Delta Rue is normally very good. The Market was a very rare occurrence for her, and she knows not to do it again. But on the way home last night I gave up on the buses. She was already exhausted, so I spend the extra fifty quid and took a taxi home. But, got a bit a burn in the process." she laughed and pointed at her pink nose. "I had hoped that the foundation I am wearing neutralized it."
"Pretend I didn't say anything? I'm thinking if I pretend hard enough that I didn't say that stupid comment that time will rewrite itself and I'll have never said it." He chuckled. "So, how old is… I'm sorry, I know you've said it a few times, but I'm still not sure what your daughter's name is."
"Delta Rue." She smiled a little brighter; she loved to talk about her daughter when the chance came. "She just turned five a few weeks ago."
"Right, I think you told me that already. Sorry my mind's just been a bit of a sieve lately – wait. Delta… Rue…" Roo looked at Krista seriously as their drinks were set down on the table. "Delta Rue?"
Krista smiled a little sadly as she cast her eyes down into her glass; she swirled the straw around in the liquid for a moment. "Delta Rue. Yep… her father gave her her first name, Delta. But, I gave her the middle name 'Rue' in honor of you, my best friend in the whole world." She lifted her eyes to look at the man across from her. His expression was unreadable, despite holding traces of happiness. Krista smiled gently when she saw his speechless look. "I had intended for it to be her middle name, but her father and I both liked how it sounded. So, 'Delta Rue' became her proper name. Though, when she was younger she only called herself Rue."
Roo was in shock, and not quite certain of how he should react; he knew how he wanted to react to it, but bursting out in giggles was probably not the most dignified outcome possible. Instead his face split with a bright grin, "You did that, even after…?"
"Even after we'd drifted apart. Yes. Because no matter what happens, you were still the most important friend that I had throughout my childhood." She smiled and laid her hand over his on the table. "She also reminds me of you, more than she ever reminds me of her father." her tone took a cryptic turn. "Which, I know is through me, but it makes me far happier than it would if she was a mirror of him. But that doesn't matter now." she shook her head and cleared her throat.
Roo smiled gently, but didn't press the matter concerning her ex, Delta Rue's father. "She's a smart cookie." he spoke quickly, "She's perceptive, even for her age."
Krista smiled sadly, "She is. As much as it was terrifying for her to run away from me like that… without her I wouldn't be sitting here with you right now. I'd never have seen you, and it's unlikely I would have ever run into you; you live in Westminster, and I live in Greenwich."
"It's not like I'm living on another planet, Darling…"
"No. But think about it. Do you really think that we'd have ever crossed paths again?"
Roo smiled gently, with a look of pure honesty. "I do, I have to. Fate has always had a way of working out; labouring to overcome any odds."
Krista flushed a little as she looked down to her plate; her cheeks were burning. Her hand tried to slip away from his, but Roo wouldn't allow it; he caught her fingers gently and gripped them in his longer, warm, digits. He said nothing, but continued to hold onto her gently. Waiting for her to respond to him in some way.
Eventually, Krista lifted her eyes to him once more; in the dim light inside the café she could still see the warmth in his eyes; it was gentle and a far different look from any of those that her ex had given her in their entire relationship. She could feel her heart flutter in her chest, and it nearly stole the breath from her. The young mother couldn't help but close her eyes against the benevolent intensity of her forsaken best friend. "You're too good…" her voice was a whisper which paled in the shadow of her true feelings. "You're too good…" she opened her eyes and gazed upon him once again. Whatever progress had been made in the last moments, where they had been talking easily between them, she was sure it was lost.
But, Roo's brows rose slightly as he tilted his head easily; the tone of her voice was not lost upon him. His eyes still held the same sympathetic warmth as he watched her with vested interest. Waiting, calmly, for her to elaborate her statement before he dared to speak.
Krista's brows furrowed gently together as she gazed at him, "Do you know that? You're so … impossibly good that my heart is aching right now."
"I am no Saint Krista; you know that just as well as I do."
"You are no Devil either Rupert." she sighed softly and rubbed her forehead a little. Again, the young man simply waited for her speak before making his peace. "You did what you had to do and –"
"Krista. Stop." the once silky soft voice of her friend dipped in a darker register; the lowered tone washed over her like a summer thunderstorm. It sent slight chills down her spine when she recognized the firmness behind his words. She simply nodded her head before he spoke on; his voice once again returning to the tender register that always betrayed the emotions coursing through his body. "We're not going to talk about the past again, do you understand?"
She nodded her head curtly, not sure if she should speak; her eyes stayed anchored to the table top, while she tried to keep her mind mercifully blank. She would always dwell on the happenings of the last years. How was she supposed to ignore it all?
"Do you understand?" he asked her again, his tone soothing as he leaned over the small dark table. His thumb continued to ghost over the back of her hand, as it had been doing for the last few moments. "It's forgiven. Sweetheart, I forgive you, as I hope you forgive me. I thought we settled this last night."
When Krista lifted her eyes, Roo was smiling at her victoriously, his eyes were sparkling. She couldn't help but feel the happy tears prickling at the back of her eyes. Maybe it could be so simply ended. She wanted to believe after it all that it could be. Oh how she hoped it could be. Feeling his warm hand over hers, she squeezed his fingers gently, to tell him she understood. With her free hand, she reached out and traced her fingertips gently over his cheek. She almost wanted to laugh and sob.
Sensing the range of emotions that his dear friend was flipping through at the speed of light, Roo wanted to put her at ease. As she touched his cheek, his brilliant smile shifted and tightened into a playful smirk. He turned his face slightly into her touch and nipped her fingers impishly while he winked. "Though, I can be a Devil, under the right circumstances." he teased.
Krista snorted in shock, and had to pull her hand away. She shook her head mockingly "You're awful!"
"You love it." Roo winked suggestively in response.