He ran a hand down her leg, and she giggled.

“Let’s get out of here,” he pleaded.

This time, she tossed her head back and laughed, but her eyes were sparkling and she sat up, removing her legs from his lap. She stood and walked away, leaving him to question if he should follow.

Follow he did.

P.J. slapped him on the back as he passed, but he didn’t stop to talk.

Virginia was waiting outside, her breaths coming in small puffs. He could see her through the window and he paused, suddenly hesitant. A feeling he couldn’t name tore through him and paralyzed his core. His breaths came heavy and difficult, then he blinked and kept walking. She smiled when she saw him, but the feeling was in her eyes, too.

“Is it too cold?” he whispered, still struggling to find his voice. She shook her head and started down the steps. He followed, nauseous, a step or two behind her.

“Will you let me hold your hand?” he asked gently. She didn’t make any indication that she’d heard him, so he caught her gloved hand and intertwined two of his fingers in hers. She let him.

They walked silently, not too fast. He stared hard at the sidewalk, dusted with the afternoon’s snow.

When they reached the playground on Giles, he realized she was crying. He wasn’t sure if she’d sniffled or if the light had caught on a tear, but there the realization was, and he stopped. She turned to him unashamed. Two perfect trails ran down either side of her face, and her chin trembled almost imperceptibly.

“You’re so beautiful,” he wanted to say, but the words caught in his throat.

The sides of her mouth turned slightly up. “Kiss me,” she mouthed. He obeyed, coming to her gently at first, then pulling her into him as her hand found his neck. It wasn’t a long kiss, but they held their position for a long time afterward, barely a centimeter between their lips, until Virginia dropped off of her tiptoes. She wasn’t crying anymore, and he wasn’t cold.

“Take me home,” she said, resuming their walk.

“My house is closer.”

His statement hung in the air.


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