So I wasn’t really pleased with how the actual writing ended up, but today I wrote about Nate.
I shouldn’t write about Nate, I have this horrible urge to keep all his secrets. DAMN YOU, MY PRIVATE BABY.
Also, I didn’t get back to circling around to where I was going with the whole flashback. Sorry about that.
Their jobs, their lives really, fall into a routine and so Greta isn’t surprised that she’s the one to notice. Shane is at her sharpest when life is unpredictable. The rhythm of life lately—teach three days a week, substitute teach at the kindergarten the other two, eat dinner with whoever needs her attention that night, play softball in the neighborhood league on the weekend, change into a wolf on the full moon—hypnotizes Shane into complacency. So she doesn’t catch that her brother is at their house more and more. Though Greta admits, Shane is gone for dinner most nights, so it’s not like she’s there to see Nate struggle to finish eating whatever Greta dishes out. Still, Greta tells her when Nate comes by, but still she doesn’t notice. Greta does though.
“How was work?”
Nate smiles faintly. “We had a call a day ago, a dad with his little girl. I could hear her in the background the whole time telling him what to say. Anyways, they found a mama cat under their house and when they coaxed her out they saw that she was banged up. Her tail was twisted and she was limping and the kittens all had eye infections. So I told him to bring them in if he could. That was at about three.
“This morning I got in, and even before my tech got there, the dad and his girl showed up with a cardboard box full of pillows and blankets and cats. It took them a while to coax the mama cat out again and make sure they had all the kittens, apparently. It turns out the kittens were really young. I think the mama was abused, but she didn’t put up a fight while we worked on her. I had the little girl play with the kittens while I fixed up the mama.”
“Aw, how old was she?”
“About four. Old enough to be a little person but young enough to not be in school on a weekday.”
“Yeah. Her dad helped me until Janey got in. She finished wrapping the casts while I showed the dad how to put Neosporin in the kittens’ eyes. He was so worried about them all was the really great thing. His daughter found them but he was the one who was really worried. It was just nice to see a creature needing a break in life finding someone who wanted to give her that. He really wants to keep her and his daughter wants to keep a kitten. Well, all the kittens, but you know.”
“Yes, bit much,” Greta agrees. She surveys her brother-in-law carefully. As much as he loves his job, he doesn’t normally go on and on about mama cats and the people who rescue them. Not without reason.
“Was he cute?”
Nate looks up and he looks trapped the second before he schools his features into ignorance. “The boy kitten? They were kind of young to tell, but I suspected one of them.”
He meets her eye briefly. “He was nice. I—do you remember Michael?”
“Your roommate at vet school, right?”
Nate answers with his gaze squarely on his untouched food. “Yeah. Well, he reminded me of Michael.”
Greta remembers when she and Shane visited Nate for Spring Break. Shane keeps up her running routine even over the holiday, so she’s gone already when Greta wakes one morning and stumbles out into the living room of the house Nate rented with his friends. She’s up earlier than she had gotten up any of the other days, no one would expect her up. She knows she is seeing something she was not meant to see as soon as she sees Michael reclined in the v of Nate’s legs, back to chest, with their other housemate, Ripa, massaging Michael’s feet. Nate has his arms down around Michael and they’re holding hands as Michael rests his head on Nate’s shoulder.
Greta tries to back out the way she came, but she doesn’t take two steps before the floorboard squeaks and the three on the couch turn to look at her.
“Good morning,” says Ripa.
Greta catches sight of Nate’s carefully neutral expression. She smiles at Ripa. “Good morning.”
“There’s coffee ready in the kitchen,” says Nate, tone even.
“Great! Okay,” she says, taking the out. She stalls in the kitchen, putzing around as she chooses a mug, gets out creamer, a spoon. She’s debating what to do once her cup is ready when Nate comes in. Greta sets her mug down right away to address him.
“I’m sorry I interrupted,” she says, low and emphatic.
“We weren’t like….”
“I know but.” Greta tries to think of how to say what she means. “I mean, I get it?”
“You get it?”
She thinks of when they kissed. His first kiss because he was graduating high school and hadn’t ever kissed someone. How she pulled away when she realized he was panicking. Sitting beside him but not touching as he tried to apologize for something that wasn’t his fault. Something that wasn’t a fault at all.
“At least some of it,” she says at last, because it’s honest.
“Do they make you happy?” she asks, because that’s all that’s important.
“Yes,” he whispers.
Greta steps closer until she can put a hand under his chin and make him look at her. “Then I get it plenty.”
He quirks a hopeful smile and she doesn’t bother trying to not laugh at him as she pulls him into a hug.
“You’re ridiculous sometimes, you know that?”
“Not the first time I’ve heard it.”
“Good.” She lets him go. “Really though, if you ever want to talk about it, I’m here, but if you don’t it’s none of my business.”
“Um, about that. Shane.”
“I don’t out people, Nate. What you want her to know is up to you to tell her.”
“Thank you. It’s just that I don’t think she’d get it. None of them would. It’s not like anything they feel.”
“I don’t know. It kind of looks like you made yourself a little pack.”
That shocks a bit of laughter out of him and Greta feels better about it by the minute. They’ll be able to move past any weirdness no problem.
“I guess so,” he says.
The front door opens and closes and Greta hears Shane greeting whoever is still in the living room. Greta gives Nate another smile before going out there to kiss her girlfriend good morning.