I thought he’d get a date like this before me. I thought he’d be the one some girl, or guy really, would fawn over and giggle over (if it was a girl, at least though I guess guys can too) him and give him their number or invite him out for coffee or something. So when this girl stepped up to me and told me she thought I looked cool and she’d seen me around the library, she wanted to know more about me, I didn’t know what to think. If it had been him, I would have been ready to defend him and step up to keep him safe if the person turned out to be an asshole or a jerk but this is me and I don’t know what I’m doing.

“Agni, stop pacing.” I do stop. I hadn’t even realized I was pacing by that point. I smile at him faintly and I shrug sheepishly. He shakes his head and steps into my room. I guess he’d been watching me from the door. “It’ll be fine, you’re just going out to meet up with a girl who said she thought you were cool. The worst that can happen is you two actually have nothing in common but I bet you’ll have plenty in common.”

He smiles at me but I can tell by his eyes that he doesn’t really know what to make of the situation. This is the first time someone might come in between us. Not in a bad way or in any way that might be permanent, I know, but it’s always been just the two of us. Of course there was and always will be Zora too but she’s our sister, it’s different.

“I’d say you can come with but I don’t think she’d know what to do with both of us there at once.” I’m trying for humour and I know it mostly fails by the slight scrunching up of his eyes. I shake my head and I turn back to look into the small mirror on my dresser. I’m wearing comfortable clothes, I look like myself and I’m not going to act like I’m someone else entirely. Of course I’m supposed to be human so it’s one of those things but that is so ingrained that it’s not hard to keep those details in mind.

My watch beeps and I almost jump. Mira laughs and I shoot him a look, I know I’m pouting and it’s all his fault, or something at least. I shake my head, straighten with a sigh and I walk to the door. He’s not far behind me, just seeing me off, I know and I step outside. “Try to have fun, at least!”

I’m supposed to meet up with Élodie at the coffee shop that’s not too far from the library so I know I’m on time. The bus will take me there and drop me off and I still have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing with any of this. I’m baffled and relatively uncomfortable as a whole but I know I can’t shun the idea of spending time with someone who isn’t family. I know it has to do with that whole ‘growing up’ thing, in the end.

There she is, sitting at one of the tables in the shade outside of the shop and I stop several yards away. I just look at her for a moment while I try to decide if it might not be wise to just run away. I don’t think that would work out in my favour. I mean, she spends time in the library, if I take off now and she comes back around, it’ll be awkward and I don’t handle awkward so well, I know. That’s more Mira’s area of expertise, he handles it better than me, so much better.

So I do step forward, I step up and I wave at her when she looks up from whatever she’s ordered. She smiles brightly and waves back. I guess she’s pretty. Her hair is long and it’s actually sort of bubble pink at this point, it makes her stand out. She had glasses on when we last spoke in the library but now she doesn’t. Maybe she’s wearing contacts. She’s wearing this little summery dress that falls to her knees.

When I stop by her, she gets up and she hugs me. I freeze for a moment and she laughs, the sound is bright and clear, something settles in me and I sigh. “Sorry, grew up pretty much out of touch with the world.”

As if my stiffening up at the presence of her arms would need an explanation. She shrugs and settles down with a sort of smile but there’s something there that I can’t pick up. I don’t know what that look that crossed her face means but I’m not sure I really like it. I shake it off for the time being, no point in trying to make a mess of things when I could just be panicking at this point. I just need to relax.

“I’m gonna go and get myself a coffee.” And I disappear inside. At least it gives me a few minutes to try to gather my thoughts. She’d seemed actually pretty sure yesterday when she asked me if I wanted to meet up for coffee. Blushing and all. This sudden hugging thing is a bit weird. I get my coffee, I move back outside and I settle across from her.

The second I’m seated, she actually gets up and moves to sit right next to me. That too confuses me to no end but I leave it be, isn’t it easier to talk if you’re sitting in front of the person you’re meeting? “So tell me about yourself!”

Her voice is a little high pitched, as if she’s as nervous as me. I suppose it’s an option but it still doesn’t explain her sitting so close. She bats her lashes at me and for a moment I wonder why I’m here at all. I know I can’t judge someone I’ve never really gotten to know but something just feels off. Might be her thigh brushing mine. Feels a bit wrong, honestly.

“Well, there isn’t much to know-” her hand is on my thigh and that makes me stop dead in my tracks. I mean, it’s really high up there on my thigh and I honestly don’t think that’s normal for folks who’re meeting up this way for a first time. I might not know shit about dating and meeting folks and making friends but she’s being really, really forward.

She leans closer to me and I can smell the slightly flowery scent of her perfume. She presses slightly against me and I can feel her breasts against my arm, her lips near my ear. “Let’s find somewhere a little more private.”

Oh hell no. Does she think I’m some kind of bad boy because my hair is two-toned? Because I’m not like everyone else, because, I don’t know? Her hand moves up my thigh and her fingers head into territory they shouldn’t and I grab her wrist. A little tight maybe because she winces but she straightens and I let go.

“When you asked me to come here for coffee, I was pretty sure you meant just coffee and getting to know me better. If you want more than that out of me, well you’ve misunderstood what I might be about because I don’t do this kind of thing on a first-meeting basis.” The words come out a little more harshly than I intended them to be but honestly I’m a little freaked out. I’m surprised I haven’t run off yet.

She looks hurt, her eyes wide as she hugs her wrist to her chest. I shake my head and I stand up, more than fine with leaving my still perfectly good coffee there, I don’t think I could stomach it right now, it would be bitter. “Don’t give me that look. You’re the one invading my personal space and saying we should go somewhere a little more private!”

I’m surprised at how low I’m managing to keep my voice, the words nearly hissed. The look of hurt on her face dissolves into a look of defeat though that defeat is quickly replaced by something I can’t define. Scorn? I don’t know. “If you come near me or my brother again I will have to remind you not to bother in ways that you might not appreciate.”

Threats, I know but I can’t believe her, really. I’ve spoken to enough people at the library to know that not everyone is like that but it still leaves me to wonder as I stalk off and back to the bus stop. I just want to be home. Is this how first meetings with people are supposed to go? I’m pretty sure that whatever she had in mind wasn’t all that friend-based. I’m sort of glad she picked me over Mira. He might have gone with her though I know I have no proof of that and I want it to stay that way.

“Agni?” I can’t help the slamming of my bedroom door when I get back inside. I figure Mira might not have expected me back until I don’t know when so when he knocks at my door, I just sniffle and I press my face to my pillow. I don’t know what I’m feeling. Betrayed, used, wrongly judged? There’s a turmoil there and it is no pretty.

“Agni, please, I’m worried about you. I’m coming in now.” He knows that might be a dangerous idea but he does anyway. He opens the door and he slips in. I just press my face closer to the pillow as I still try to make sense of what went wrong. You really can’t judge a book by its cover.

By the time he’s sitting next to me, I’ve moved from clinging to my pillow to clinging to him. He only brushes his fingers along my hair while I blurt out everything that happened, what little of it and he goes quiet. After a moment he sighs and he simply keeps on hugging me. It might be all I need right now and it’s all I’ll settle for. I don’t want anything else.

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