“One of the biggest surprises is learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing. In fact, fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”
Oasis Springs McCoy Residence
KC halted to look up at the person who was now entering the small workshop at his parents’ home, then with a grimace and a sigh put down his woodworking tools, careful to make sure the workbench remained as a sort of barrier in between him and the visitor.
“Now if this ain’t a surprise, I ain’t never seen one.” he said as casual as he could muster.
“Hello KC. Do you have a moment for a word.” Heath replied politely.
“Depends on what kinda word ya got in mind.”
“It’s about Caitlin …”
“Ah, a long and serious word then. Want some iced tea? My mother just made a fresh batch.”
“No, thank you. I prefer this privacy for our little chat. You and I both know we aren’t friends and will likely never be, so I will do both of us the favor and get straight to it. What have you said to Caitlin?”
“Said? Whatcha mean? I have known Cait since she was like 6, I have said a great many things to her over the years.”
“Don’t play coy, KC.”
“Why not? It’s my last name. Get it, McCoy … boy, you really aren’t in a jokin’ mood today. So, why would you ask that?”
“She left me. Supposedly temporarily to sort something out in her mind.”
“Sorry to hear, but you know Cait. Impulsive and shit.”
“Sure, she is. And normally that’s how I would look at it, except it happened the same day she went to have lunch with you. She clearly didn’t go for the food, and she acted strange when she came back, then went to see her mother and never returned home, telling me she needed some time away from everything, which evidently includes me. Too much of a coincidence for my taste. So, what have you said to her?”
KC swallowed, weighing his options off in his mind. Looking at Heath and knowing him the way he did, he knew lies and denial would get him nowhere, only drag this uncomfortable visit out unnecessarily, so he said in a plain, nonchalant tone
“I said a lot of things. We talked about being engaged, about weddings … I pissed her off, and then I kissed her. That was the last of it.”
In typical Heath fashion did he not explode into a verbal fountain of insults and complaints, as most men probably would in this situation, he didn’t even move, just stood there, staring at KC, then finally asked.
“Why do you think?”
“There are several options here. Tell me.”
“Tell you what, Dr. Grainger?”
“Whatever you think you are doing, it is not fair to the rest of us. Not fair to Annaleigh, not fair to Caitlin, not fair to me, and not even fair to yourself. I can see you are confused about everything still, as is Caitlin, obviously, so let me sort it out for you. You chose Annaleigh and Caitlin chose me. I asked her to marry me, and she said yes. Among my kind, that really means something, as divorces are practically non-existent, and a lifetime together means something very different from you mortals. Forever is a VERY long time for us vampires.”
“Okay, I get how you think you can be all high and mighty about this to me. But I never had the chance to ask her for an eternity with me. That was taken from me, from us, because of some stupid coincidence.”
“I don’t believe in coincidences, only fate. Whatever happened, was meant to be. If it bothered you so much, you waited a very long time to try and fix it and then again, what have you really done to fix it? All I have seen you do was be asinine towards Cait, interrupted by two inappropriate kisses. And what about Annaleigh? How do you think she would feel knowing you kissed Caitlin?”
“Oh, you wouldn’t dare!”
“I dare do all that becomes a man, who dares more, is none.”
“Shakespeare. It means, I would dare it, but won’t do it. For Annaleigh’s sake. She is a very kind soul, she and Cait are good friends, no reason to cause bad blood among the innocent for your mistakes.”
“Innocent? She kissed me back, bruh! She WANTED it! Just like the time before! Not as innocent as you think.”
Heath’s jaw clenched, but that was his only noticeable physical reaction.
“You both seem to feel that you never had closure, and that you need it, but you are both wrong. I do not even quite understand the idea here. Just keep sneaking kisses with Cait until it all blows up in your face more than it already has last time and now? Maybe try to do more eventually? Or are you seeing yourself permanently with her? Then what about Anna? Where does she fit in here? I thought you two loved each other, but seems like you don’t, as your heart clearly isn’t fully free.”
This time KC stood there silently taking it all in, staring at the perceived opponent when he finally relaxed, a sense of realization washing over his face.
“Look man, it’s not the heart. It’s the brain. I had a rough time losing her the way I did and having her back in my life now feels … confusing. You are right, I love Annaleigh, not Cait. I guess I do care about her, maybe a little more than just a friend, but I honestly think what is going on between us has nothing to do with romantic love and everything with regret and guilt and maybe I wanted to hurt her back the way she hurt me, and you don’t need to tell me what a dick move that is. Anna is everything to me. I am sorry, dude. Really. I shouldn’t have kissed your girl. Really, sorry.”
“It’s big of you to say that, but pardon me for not immediately celebrating your insights, as they aren’t exactly new. Like you, I do believe in giving second chances, as they have been given to me and changed my entire life and me forever. I do appreciate what you just told me, but I really need you to remember all this in future. I may seem calm, but that is not what’s inside of me, I have my father to thank for this. I am a volcano about to erupt, at any given point in time. The Vatores and the Camerons realized that and helped me learn to bottle it, reign it in, but if I ever lose control, KC, I won’t be able to guarantee for nothing. I need Caitlin. She knows how to keep me in control of my instincts, otherwise I would be every bit the inhumane beast mortals think of when they hear the term vampire.”
“Why are you telling me this? Is that supposed to be a threat?”
“No, it’s a warning, the only one I give. I am telling you, you may want Cait, or maybe you want Annaleigh, but I need Caitlin. NEED her. She and I belong. I abide by all laws I must, but know, there is always a way. I don’t dislike you, KC, but I need Cait, and if you continue to try and take her from me, I will find ways to stop it.”
“Real romantic, Casanova.”
“Casanova wasn’t known for being romantic, he was cunning, reckless and a predator, and likely a sex addict. I am none of the sort. But if you need to hear me say it, yes, I love Caitlin. Always have, from the first moment we met. Like us as children, that love grew into something more mature. I love her, and I need her. Life without her is not a feasible option for me, and while I would never force her, I will try to remind her that she loves me too and that we belong together.”
“Oh jeeze. You sound like an old book. Fine, look, I am sorry. It will not happen again. You’re right, douche move and probably just me doing what I do, push the buttons to see how far I can go. I didn’t know she’d get her panties in a bunch over all that. So, quit keeping me from working and go get your girl back.”
Heath didn’t bother walking out the door to find a secret corner to port, there was no point, since KC already knew about all this and Heath wasn’t particularly keen on having to spend more time outside in the glaring sun of Oasis Springs.
Forgotten Hollow Grainger Hall
Heath ported back home first, his plan was to change into a fine suit, then get roses, Caitlin’s favorites, before seeing her in Del Sol Valley, but found she was already back home.
As he entered, she appeared in the hallway, looking ready to cry.
“I am sorry, lover!” she said, before running into Heath’ arms, he folded them around her tight enough to squeeze every last bit of oxygen out of any mortal, which Caitlin didn’t have to worry about.
“Never leave me again, Cait.”
“Never. Heath, let’s get married. Two years of engagement are long enough. At least let’s start seriously planning to get married – soon. I am sure now. It’s you I want and only you. Never been surer of anything in my life.”