exhaled slowly as he shut the trunk of his car, a small box tucked under his free arm. He wasn't sure when the surreal quality of the day would lift, if it would at all. The idea that he and Katie had managed to get an apartment, a little hideaway in their own little corner of the world was still unbelievable to him. Reaching into his pocket, he fumbled for a few minutes, attempting with little success to fish out the key to the apartment. Finally catching it on his finger, he opened the door, once more breathing out a sigh as he entered. Boxes littered the living room, both his and Katie's interspersed throughout the room. The packing of his belongings had been trying enough, Eli leaving the vast majority until the last minute. But now the larger task seemed to be how he'd go about unpacking the items, managing to make the place look more like a home and less like a storage space. He had no doubt that Katie would whip his ass into gear, making a point to get through the task in a speedy and efficient manner. As tightly wound as the girl could be, she never failed to keep him on task, a trait he greatly appreciated and knew would come in handy while they lived together. Fixing the cap on his head, he weaved through the boxes, following the narrow trail leading to the kitchen. Inside he found Katie, his face lighting up immediately at the sight. It still hadn't fully sunken in that he'd be seeing her on a daily basis from then on, getting to wake up to her each morning. "Hanging out in here while you make me do the work? I see how it is." he called out, shooting her a teasing smirk. Reaching for her, he slipped on arm around her waist, the other following shortly after, her back to his chest. Resting his chin on her shoulder, he sighed happily. Though they weren't official, it felt as though the two were a couple, having grown close in the recent weeks. "We're home." he whispered, peering up at her. "I just brought in the last box." Weaving his fingers through hers, Eli ran his thumb along the back of her hand, glancing around. "Don't tell me I have to let go of you. I deserve this as a prize for all that backbreaking work." he claimed, tightening his grip on her slightly.
tried to shake the chill out of his bones as he entered the apartment complex, quickly locking the door to keep the bitter weather outside where it belonged. At this point, he was used to leaving in the morning for his classes when it was dark, and returning back home when it was equally as pitch black in the evening. Eli was never the type to wither without sunlight though, instead taking in the early morning and late night hours to be at his most productive. Though rehearsals were a bit of a challenge, what with Jake constantly around the area working on the set, Eli was beginning to find it easier to tune him out. Katie had made a valid point in saying his presence was serving as a benefit to the team. For that reason and that reason alone, he could swallow his pride and ignore his bitterness for the time being. Shuffling up the stairs, he slid in the key and unlocked the door, letting himself inside. At first he couldn't hear anything from within the apartment, assuming he'd arrived home before Katie until muffled voices sounded from inside her room. At once, his eyes shut in frustration, quickly disrobing himself of his scarf and hat as he made his way to his room. The last thing he needed was a repeat of the night he'd overheard them being intimate, the sounds and feeling that settled in his stomach from it still fresh as ever. He didn't think twice about hurrying off to his room, eager to drown it all out with music until he heard the pair speaking louder. Stopping in his tracks near Katie's door, he couldn't help eavesdropping out of curiosity. It didn't take long for him to realize that what he was hearing had absolutely nothing to do with sex, but instead happened to be an argument escalating. Before he could think to knock and make sure she was okay, he backed up as the door swung open, watching in silence while Katie demanded Jake leave. Letting a beat or two of silence pass between them once he left, Eli looked to her, taking a small step closer. "What happened? He didn't hurt you, right?" he asked, unfailingly overprotective when it came to her.
Eli stared at his computer screen, wasting three of the ten minutes he had to get ready and walk to the park in shock. What was he doing? He didn’t care what Katie thought of anything he wrote, so why did he ask her to read the rough draft of his novel? He should know better than to trust that he could actually be in the company of Katie for more than five minutes without wanting to rip himself to shreds. But even with the thought, he found himself getting ready. Elijah groaned and muttered under his breath as he changed into jeans and a random band tee, pulling his leather jacket over it.
Eli grabbed his copy of the notes he’d managed to convince Adam to send his way and a manila envelope, nearly jogging to the park. He’d taken so long contemplating why he’d even demand she meet him that he nearly wasted all of his minutes and being late would just be another reason for Katie to criticize him. Elijah let out a long breath of relief as he leaned against the tree with two minutes to spare. He took a seat, shutting his eyes and leaning his head back against the trunk of the tree. He’d never let anyone read his book; not even Clare. He couldn’t trust anyone to not be biased. Eli let out a long breath and gripped the envelope tightly in his hands, wringing it nervously and sighing.
could feel the distinct quietness resting within the walls of the apartment, no rustling from a nearby room or music playing from another part of the home to indicate Katie's presence. He wasn't about to admit it to her- and he could just barely admit it to himself- but it never took long for him to miss the girl. Even the hours between going to work or attending classes was enough to leave him wistful, so completely used to her company that going without made him feel sincerely deprived. It wasn't a shared emotion, that much he knew. As of late, Katie had been busier than she'd been in years, her attention scattered between her own duties and a certain man by the name of Jake Martin. Even the mere mention of him was enough to leave a sour taste in Eli's mouth for hours, his disposition one that was obviously green with envy. He didn't like being so blatant about his disdain, but the fact of the matter was that Katie didn't seem to give a damn. Not once had she caught onto the nature of his bitterness, his grudge extending far past that of a common, platonic concern of being replaced. There was no sense of competition- at least not logically- but that didn't stop him from feeling as though there was a necessity to somehow prove his worth. He knew all too well that to Katie, there was no one but Jake currently in her life. A nearly lifelong crush held no weight when his affections went entirely unrequited, hushed and buried for the entirety of their friendship. To say he was left angry after their argument would be a massive understatement, his blood still boiling from the heated exchange. Poised on the couch in their living room, he tried in vain to focus on the last portion of his history paper, though he was mostly staring at the final paragraph blankly. His attention was simply too occupied with everything surrounding Katie to place his focus on it.. Just as he was about to take a break, he heard the door open and then shut again, indicating Katie's arrival. He refused to spare a glance in her direction, instead feigning great interest in his essay to avoid interacting with her. There wasn't much else to say, and in all honesty, arguing with the girl was an exhausting experience. For the sake of pissing her off and evading a more heated debate, he chose to bite his tongue.
It was quite simply the kind of September morning that unabashedly induced giddy excitement and a foreign surge of nervous energy that made the ferns droop submissively, as if they were preparing themselves for an early retirement. In an attempt to prevent herself from falling off of her own mental precipice, every jittery tic that had previously been subjected to severe chastisement overtook each segment of her body. Foot tapping, knuckle cracking, gulps that were teetering on the edge of becoming audible. Katie Matlin was nervous; there was just no other way around it. Flitting from one table to the next, she mentally counted each gift that had been wrapped with painstaking effort purely because the idea of presenting half-heartedly packed gifts seemed like an appalling way to start off the school year. The courtyard was starting to teem with exhausted parents and overexcited kids whose eyes darted every so often towards the table of presents. However, there was nothing, not even the timid introductions of her students, that could appease the knot that had permanently conquered her insides ever since he had come back into her life. A plethora of incoherent questions continuously plagued her mind, none of which she could prompt herself to ask him—about him, his life, the family he'd created. At one juncture, she had become a slave to space and time and irreversible embarrassment. The summer after they had both graduated high school was the only one that she vividly remembered spending without him—without having aimless arguments or intellectual discussions about literature. The years that followed revolved around new relationships, new expectations, new beginnings, and a whole new set of anxieties. None of it was incomparable without him; that was too much of an overstatement for her liking. It just felt like life's bad imitation of a fill-in-the-blanks exercise. More than anything else, Eli Goldsworthy had been her best friend at a significant point in her life. As a teenager, he had been incredibly infuriating, self-assured, and overly sarcastic—all qualities that constantly drove her up the wall and sparked a strong interest within her to hit him over the head as an outlet for her frustration. At the same time, he'd had the potential to be charismatic in ways that had made her 17-year-old self analyze his actions in a manner that'd assuredly end well for her, in a manner that made her feel special, no matter how fleeting it was. But that was all in the past, she repeatedly rationalized with herself. Over the course of ten years, they'd both managed to build up their lives while deliberately avoiding each other even when avenues seemed to open up for possible interaction during high school alumni associations that Katie never bothered to attend or keep track of. The conversation that they'd managed to strike up recently, on the other hand, had been entirely unprecedented and for reasons that she couldn't begin to comprehend, they'd both kept the conversation going if only to discuss his son and issues related to starting school. Smoothing her hand over the front of her skirt, she turned, her grip on her clipboard becoming instinctively tighter. It was him. Far too many years had passed them by, but the only tangible proof that something had changed was the fact that he now walked hand-in-hand with a miniature doppelgänger of himself. Uncertainty ladening each successive step that she took, Katie slowly walked towards them, her heart pounding wildly at the prospect of not being able to ignore his existence any longer, not when he had come to a halt a few feet away from her. Unable to string together words to say to him right off the bat, she looked at him briefly before hastily averting her gaze, and kneeling down before the dark-haired boy so that they were almost up to eye level. "You must be Aiden. Your father's told me all about you," said Katie, smiling to the apprehensive little boy who looked like he was seconds away from taking cover behind Eli. "I'm Katie. Katie Matlin. I'm going to be your teacher for the two years," she continued, stretching her hand to gently touch his shoulder. "Don't tell the other kids," she began, dropping her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "but I can promise you that you're going to get the best gift out of all them." Laughing to herself at the delighted expression that immediately lit up his features, she brought herself back to a standing position, finally finding the courage to look Eli in the eyes. "Hi," she mustered with an unusual hint of shyness coloring her voice. "You were right, by the way," she added, peering over to him with a small smile. "You look just like the Eli I remember."