"Hey! Stir fry!" Jesse smiled as he entered the kitchen.
"That's lunch," I told him. Pointing to the bagels on the counter, I added, "That's breakfast!"
"Oh!" Jesse swept two halfs of a bagel off the counter and bit into one.
I glanced at him while poking at my stir fry. "You're here early."
Jesse shrugged. "Well, I missed you this weekend! How was it?"
"Pretty lonely," I replied. "I pretty much just did homework."
"You could have called," he said as he chewed the bagel.
I shook my head. "I knew you were working."
Jesse laid down the bagel and put his hands on my shoulders. "Hey, Ty! You know my work comes second to you! You're my friend! You didn't see Steve either?"
Jesse sighed. "If that happens again, you call me. Okay?"
"Yeah, Jess," I smiled at him. "Thanks!"
Steve met me after German class.
"Hey!" he smiled. "How's your knee?"
"Fine," I replied.
"You didn't tell Jess, did you," Steve sighed; he already knew the answer. "Oh, Ty!"
"I didn't want to make him needlessly worry."
Widening his eyes, Steve exclaimed, "Your getting slammed into the ground by some punks is not needless worry! You were almost killed!"
"I'm fine now."
"You shouldn't even be walking on it..."
Grimacing, he held up his hands. "Yeah, I know! You have a dangerous job, just like mine. But I still worry about you. I want to keep you safe."
I embraced him. "You're so cute when you're being overprotective!"
"Oh am I?" he smiled. "I'll have to do it more often!"
He leaned in and kissed me. I just held him in my arms.
"I'm sorry, Steve," I whispered. "I have to go to class now."
"I know," he breathed his reply. "I just wish you didn't. Want me to go with you?"
"Yes. But you have to return to work."
He nodded. "Yeah, I know. Should I send John to watch you?"
"I'm not in need of a bodyguard!"
Steve raised an eyebrow. "For peace of mind?"
Then he let me go.
John greeted me after Western Civ.
"Hey, bodyguard!" I said when I saw him.
"Bodyguard?!?" he exclaimed. "I'm your partner!"
"Well Steve seems to think that you're my bodyguard!"
John laughed through closed lips. "Well Stve can just go on! How's your knee?"
"What, is he telling everyone, now that I only asked specifically that he keep it from Jesse?"
"Again, Ty, I'm your partner," he replied, looking me in the ey. "I should know. Okay?"
"Just don't baby me."
"Like I would!"
Smiling, I commented, "You remind me so much of Justin!"
John nodded. "You miss him."
"So, is it time for psych statistics?"
"You're going to school with me?!?" I exclaimed.
"Ty, I'm going everywhere with you!"
The corners of my lips turned up. "At Steve's request?"
"We've got work to do."
"How can you eat with those?" John asked me over lunch.
"What? These?" I held up my chopsticks. "Doesn't everybody?"
"You eat with chopsticks more than oriental people do!"
"I just like them!"
John smiled. "Steve's supposed to be showing up soon, right?"
Nodding, I replied, "I sure hope so!"
Steve approached the table. "Hey, guys," he said with a smile and sat down beside me. He put an arm around my back and rested his hand on my shoulder. "Miss me?" He looked deep in my eyes.
"When don't I?" I replied with a smile. I snuggled up closer to him.
Steve looked at my partner. "Hey, John!" he grinned. "Thanks for coming on such short notice!"
"Thanks for telling me where she was!" John replied. He glanced over at me. "We're supposed to be partners, but she keeps running off to save the world." He sipped his soda.
"John!" I exclaimed. "I was going to call you later."
"Yeah," he chuckled. "Right!"
"Are we going to fight?" Steve asked. "Or are we going to eat our lunch?"
John sat back in his seat. "Well, unless we're having something really good for lunch, I opt to fight!"
"Tygger made stir fry," Steve informed my partner.
John nodded. "Let's eat!"
"Wait!" I exclaimed as the men reached for my tupperware bowl. I wrapped my fingers around the cover. "We gotta wait for Jesse!"
"He can deal!" John replied, grabbing the bottom of the bowl. We each pulled on it, attempting to gain control.
Then Jesse showed up.
"Did I miss something?" he asked as he sat beside John. He watched as John and I fought over the tupperware.
"Not at all, Jess!" Steve replied. John released the tupperware.
Jesse sniffed the lid when I had removed it from the bowl. "I've been waiting all morning for this!" he announced. "I wanted it for breakfast!"
"Okay, dig in!" I set down the bowl.
The three each took a bowl from my bag and shoveled stir fry and rice into it.
"Bon Appetit!" I smiled. "Remember to chew!"
The meals were devoured in minutes.
"So what's the gameplan for today?" Steve asked as he wiped his mouth.
I shrugged. "I don't know. What case are you on?"
"Today I'm looking into a homicide."
"Steve!" I slapped him on the shoulder. "Details?"
"It occured at a local business," Steve informed me. "It may just be a random act of violence, but I'm looking into it."
I nodded. "Jess?" I asked, turning to him. "What are you up to?"
"After lunch, I gotta work until late tonight." He raised his eyebrows. "Sorry!"
"What?" I asked. "For working?"
Steve turned to John. "You'll be staying with her all day. Right?"
John nodded, resting his head on the wall. "For the work day, yeah! Steve! You gotta resign to the fact that Ty holds her own!"
Steve grimaced. "Yeah? Well yesterday scared me."
Bewildered, Jesse asked, "What happened yesterday?"
"Thanks, Steve!" I patted his shoulder. "While you're at it, have it announced all over campus." Sighing, I turned to Jesse. "Just a little run-in with Steve's last case. That's all."
"The murderer went after us," Steve closed his eyes and added. "Mainly Ty. He tried to kill her. He pushed her down and had a gun held to her."
Jesse's mouth dropped open. "Ty! Are you okay?"
"Fine," I replied.
Steve turned to me and whispered, "Do you want to tell him about your knee?"
I shook my head.
"I thought I'd lose you!" Steve whispered in my ear as we sauntered around campus. Jesse had gone back to work, and John was waiting for me in the classroom.
Steve held me tight. "It was close, Ty."
Flinging my arms around his neck, I breathed, "I love you."
We stared into one another's eyes. "I love you, Steve."
We embraced, and he held me close. My eyes peeked over his muscled arms. Then my eyelids shut, and I squeezed him. His arms tightened around me.
"I want to make sure that nothing bad ever happens to you," he whispered in my ear.
"You can't, Steve," I whispered back.
"But I want to."
Steve watched me as I pulled the blue chair to the row behind mine.
"Why do you do that?" he asked as I sat down. He sat in the chair opposite me.
"You move chairs, put your stuff around you, so that no one will sit next to you," Steve furrowed his eyebrows. "Why?"
"I just don't like sitting around people," I looked down at the table. Then I looked into his eyes, seeking approval. "I don't like people."
Steve raised his eyebrows. "Oh! So you don't like me?"
"Steve!" I took his hands in mine. "I love you!"
"You fear rejection from others."
"Not really," I replied. "I don't know. I just don't like being aroudn them. It's part of what I'm sorting out in therapy."
Steve held my hands tighter. "You have a session tomorrow. Want me to go with you? You already told her about me."
I shook my head. "I didn't exactly. I didn't mention names, or that I have a boyfriend."
"Should I tell her next time?"
Steve shrugged. "I don't know. It's totally up to you. It's your therapy."
"I'm still not sure what she thinks of it."
Nodding, Steve said, "It's not always easy to tell. You might want to wait a while until you tell her about me. Don't say anything unless you're comfortable.
I nodded. "Okay."
"I want this to be okay," he whispered. "Everything just seems so confusing right now." Steve sighed. "Do you doubt me?"
"No, Steve," I replied. My eyes sparkled with tears and looked up at him. "Sometimes I worry. But we all worry about something, don't we?"
"Someday," he said, "everything will be perfect."