warning: this is the most awkward thing you will ever read. (since when is keefe not awkward?!!)
"Hey, what did happen the last time you and Fitz tried to kiss?" Keefe teased, smirking mischievously as he heard Sophie's groan. "Aw, come on, Foster. Don't droop your hair over that adorable face of yours and tell me."
"Who are you, and what've you done with Keefe Sencen?" She grinned and tilted her head to the side, noticing his visible confusion. "Who's the Empath here?"
"Yeah, but emotions don't tell me everything," he pressed. "Plus, the world's been way too normal these past few days. I like a little weird, you know?"
Uh, more like a lot, she wanted to say as Keefe suddenly pivoted to the side, making her realize that she'd been holding his hand all along. Without his grasp, she suddenly swerved sideways and clumsily face-planted onto the ground.
It wouldn't have been as painful if it weren't so ironic. That was what it'd been with Fitz — he'd relied on her for support and whenever she'd let go, he had sunken into a deeper level of guilt each time. But he still wanted her back — and she never wanted to repeat that mistake again.
It reminded her of a strategy her mom had taught her back when she was living in the Forbidden Cities. She had told her if she wanted to release someone from her life and accepted that they weren't destined to be, all she had to do was put her hand over her heart, say the person's name, and imagine them flying away.
To someplace better.
But that wasn't something she could do with Fitz. Regardless whether she liked it or not, she had to continue working with him in order to save the Elvin world. If only she could say the same for Keefe... besides, she didn't have much experience with letting her friends go. She didn't have many to start with, and it was something she was surprised with every day.
"Foster?" Keefe's voice held a tone of genuineness and concern, enough to snap her back into reality. "Here."
She reached for his hand and realized how warm it was — a little like mallowmelt, which always had a delicious and sweet edge she'd never be able to forget. She didn't think about pulling herself up, just being with him.
It was a fixed point of steady that was rough at times, but something she could always rely on. She reluctantly let go of his hold and brushed the dirt off her sweaty palms. "You really want to hear?" Keefe's voice reminded her of a thoughtful silence. "Duh!"
"It was like this."
Before she knew what she was doing, she was glued to Keefe's murky, sealike eyes that now had something new to it, something more... delicate. She held her gaze as his eyebrows lifted in a calm grin, feeling like she'd ate too much candy as she leaned in, her breath syncing with Keefe's...
And someone cleared their throat behind them.