for real tho
"Are these masochistic tendencies a recent development?" asked David, peering at Jack. "Because there’s people you can talk to for that, you know."
"She’s the only girl who’s ever beaten in me a in debate," Jack replied, stuffing his books in his backpack. "And I kinda want to take her out for coffee."
"Masochistic tendencies," David repeated, as if it needed affirming.
Katherine Plumber, captain of Pulitzer High School Debate Team, was well known for cutting a swath through both opposing debaters and any boy brave enough to even think about asking her out. Jack Kelly, the Captain of the Lower Manhattan High Debate Club, was criminally charming and had a reputation for using said charm like a weapon. The matches they had together had a considerable following.
"Ace," said Jack after one particularly heated debate about the use of censorship in history, "you ever think about coffee?"
"All the time, and never with you," Katherine retorted. "And my name’s not Ace, it’s Katherine.”
"I like calling you Ace," said Jack mildly. "It suits you."
Their relationship probably wouldn’t have progressed beyond their debate club matches and the snarking that went on there, until late one night Jack was leaving his job at a printing shop when he saw Katherine standing on the corner, staring at her phone in evident distress and a few unsavory characters eyeing her from the stoop. Jack locked up and hurried over, deliberately making a racket so she heard him coming. People still talked about the time she knocked out Oscar Delancey’s teeth for grabbing her ass.
"Ace," he called, getting close, "Ace, what are you doing out here so late?"
"I got stood up," she said tersely, gripping her bag tightly in one hand. "And my phone’s almost dead and I don’t know how to get to the subway from here—"
Carefully, Jack took her by the elbow and steered in the direction of a brighter area of the street. “Let me walk you back. I was on my way home anyways.”
It was probably a sign how agitated she’d been that Katherine didn’t argue. They made it onto the train in silence until she spoke unexpectedly, “I didn’t realize you worked.”
"Have been for a few years," said Jack. "Helping my folks put food on the table. And we’ve always got foster kids, so every little bit helps."
"The foster care debate," said Katherine, eyes going wide. "You argued so hard against it—”
"System’s as broken as hell," said Jack bluntly. "Did you know at least two families didn’t want Crutchie ‘cause he’s got a disability? The one that did want him just wanted him for a paycheck and the kids there were real rough on him, made his leg worse and you’d never know it until he came to live with us, he’s always so cheerful and the poor kid’s been through hell—”
He stopped abruptly, seeing realization dawn over Katherine’s face. “I thought—” she started to say, then seemed to rethink her statement, something she never did on the stand, “I was under the impression—you just liked aggravating me. Not that you actually cared about the topics.”
"I’m a blowhard, Ace," Jack conceded. "But I’m a blowhard with principles." And just to lighten the mood, he added blithely, "Aggravating you is just a bonus, and entertaining as hell."
She narrowed her eyes at him and he grinned back shamelessly. “You are the most impossible boy,” she said severely, "ever."
"Does this mean you’ll get coffee with me?" he asked, still grinning and she rolled her eyes.
It wasn’t until he dropped her off at her upscale brownstone that she said, “Bring me a white chocolate mocha at the next debate and then we’ll talk.”
He did. And the match ended in a draw because this is a debate match, not speed-dating Mr. Kelly and Miss Plumber.