"Miss Johnson!" Colin gives an enthusiastic wave to the blonde-haired girl huddled at one of the library's corner tables, surrounded by stacks of books on various subjects and, knowing Katharine, probably in a handful of different languages. The librarian, Mrs. Carter-a woman who looks as old as the antiquated library, with a severe bun and deep wrinkles running along her pale face-gives Colin a reproachful look for his shouting and shushes him. It's possibly the seven millionth time she's had to do so this week, but that doesn't stop her from trying.

Katharine sighs and tries to hide behind her book when she receives a matching glare from Carter, and attempts very valiantly to refrain from pounding her head on the desk a few times. She does, somehow, but it's a fragile thing. "Colin," she scolds quietly as soon as Colin is within earshot. "First of all, we're in a library-shut the hell up. Second, my name is Katharine; I'm your tutor, not a professor; therefore, using my first name is perfectly acceptable. And third, how many times do you think I'll have to tell you all of this before it finally sinks in?"

Colin tries to pout but ruins the effect a moment later when he breaks into a huge, dimpled smile. "You know, you're awfully mean to me. I should call one of those hotlines for abusive relationships."

"I don't think they specialize in tutor/pupil relationships," Katharine says dryly. "Abusive or otherwise."

"There's a first time for everything, Miss Johnson."

"Asshole."

Colin throws back his head and laughs loudly, earning another shush from Mrs. Carter and a punch to the arm from Katharine. "Oh, whatever. You fucking love me," he tells her, careful to wait until she turns her attention back to her book before rubbing at his sore arm. "So, what are we doing tonight?"

"The same thing we do every night." Katharine look up from Homer long enough to roll her eyes. "We're going to study. You know, that thing proper students do which involves books and papers and brains?"

"Sounds tedious. I think we should go out to dinner instead," Colin decides. "And hit a movie after. Ooh, Sherlock Holmes, maybe? All the girls in my Sociology lab tell me that Robert looks quite delicious in it."

Katharine chuckles and turns the page of her book. "What is this, our first date?"

"Well, yeah. What else would it be?"

Katharine gives Colin a dubious look. She does nothing but stare at him for a few long moments, like he's a puzzle she can't figure out, before she sighs, shakes her head in defeat, and slides a copy of Black Beauty toward him. "Just read, Colin."

"I need your help," Colin tells her two days later as he sits beside her at the round table. She nearly jumps out of her skin at his sudden appearance, having gotten used to his loud, irritating entrances over the past week and a half.

"I'd help you if I could, Colin. Really, I would," she tells him in complete deadpan, not even bothering to look up from the worn copy of Walden she has practically glued to her face. "But I don't have a PhD in psychology."

"Har, har, smartass." Colin flips her off, completely unnecessarily as she can't see past her book, but it makes him feel better. "I meant, in my new class."

That gets Katharine to drop her book, if only to shoot him a suspicious glance. "What new class?"

"My new English class!" Colin tells her, grinning like he's won the damn lottery.

"You dropped Intro to Lit?" Katharine nearly sighs in relief; Colin, despite having told her his mother is a high school English teacher, lacks the discipline needed to sit down and read a book, much less comprehend it. "That's probably for the best."

"I didn't drop Intro to Lit, I'm taking that one too!" And Colin looks so excited that Katharine almost feels bad about pointing out the glaringly obvious complication in this situation. Almost.

"Colin," she says slowly, as if he's an especially-slow toddler and she's trying to teach him String Theory. "I'm tutoring you in your gen-ed English class because you're failing it. What made you think it was a good idea to add another English class on top of that one? Two F's do not make an A!"

"Well, whatever, are you going to tutor me or not?"

"I'd rather not, but I don't have much of a choice, do I?"

"Nope!" Colin chirps.

"Shut up and give me the damn book they assigned you." Colin obediently pulls a thin paperback from his messenger bag and tosses it to Katharine. Her eyebrows make a good attempt at being swallowed up by her hairline. "The House of the Vampire? What class are you taking?"

"LGBT Literature."

And since Katharine obviously doesn't know when to just leave something alone, she has to ask, "...why?"

"Because it was the only English class that still had seats open!" Colin says, as if that explains everything.

"Right," Katharine says. She blinks. "And why did you take another English class again?"

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Colin replies easily. "So, how about we ditch this musty, old library and hook up in my dorm room?"

"I'd love to," Katharine answers, voice honey-sweet. "But you need to read your book about gay vampires or you'll fail your new English class."

"Gay vampires?" Colin gives the book on the table a queer look. "Why the hell would they assign a book about that?"

A pause. "What the hell did I do to get stuck with you?"

"Hey! My presence is a gift!"

"Then the universe is a shitty gift-giver," Katharine sulks. "I demand a do-over."

Sometime during the night, Katharine wakes to the sound of Lady Gaga. Blinking rapidly to dispel the last vestiges of sleep from her eyes, she looks around for the source of the noise. Upon finding her phone blinking excitedly at her from its spot on the nightstand, she sighs and snatches it up. Looks at the caller id to find a number she doesn't recognize, then at the clock (3:54 a.m.) and curses loudly and creatively until the last few chords of Telephone's chorus die away, only to renew their efforts a moment later when the idiot calls back. "Who the hell are you and do you have any idea what time it is?" Katharine demands the moment the call connects.

"Miss Johnson!" Colin slurs happily on the other end of the line. There's music and the sound of voices in the background, making Colin shout into the phone loud enough to bring a wince to Katharine's face. Bar, Katharine thinks and then makes a mental note to murder Colin the next time she sees him.

"Oh my fucking god," Katharine groans. She drops her head back onto the pillow and sobs quietly for a few seconds. "Colin, it is too late.. or early or whatever, for this shit. Please call back later. Or preferably never again." Then, "Wait! How the hell did you get my number?!"

"That's not the important part," Colin says urgently. He pauses for dramatic effect. "Do you want to know what the important part is?"

"Not particularly."

"I'm horny!" Colin blurts out anyway.

Katharine just stares at the ceiling and sighs. "Why, thank you for sharing that, Colin," she says dryly. "Please, tell me more disturbing, personal information about yourself. I'm all ears."

"But I'm horny!" Colin protests.

"So I've gathered." Katharine stares at the ceiling some more. "I'm... happy for you?" she tries. At Colin's outraged huff, she supposes that wasn't exactly the response he was looking for. Whatever. "Well what the hell do you want me to say, asshat? There's nothing I can do about it."

"Well, actually-"

"Oh my god." Katharine puts a hand to her forehead to stave off the upcoming headache. "Do not even finish that sentence, Evans. I am going to bed."

"Is that an invitation?" She can practically hear Colin leering at her.

"No!"

"But I'm-"

"I'm not having sex with you!" Katharine says firmly. When she hears Colin draw in a breath for further argument, she adds, "And you're drunk, so you probably couldn't get it up anyway."

And then she hangs up.

"I am never drinking tequila ever again," Colin says that afternoon, after Katharine threw The House of the Vampire at his pounding head and ordered him to read, hangover-induced headache or otherwise, with a malicious satisfaction.

Katharine 'hmm's with mock-sympathy and taps away at her laptop. Otherwise, she pays him no attention, much to his growing chagrin.

He looks at the page he's supposed to be reading for all of two seconds before focusing on Katharine again. "What are you typing?"

"A report."

"A report on what?"

"On Shakespeare's influence in the works of Edgar Allen Poe."

"Oh."

Katharine goes back to typing.

"Why?"

She huffs and gives him an irritated look from the corner of her eye. "Why what?"

"Why are you writing a report?" Colin has his chin resting on his fist, which is propped up by his elbow on the table. The picture of undivided attention. Except, she would rather he pay that attention to gay vampires instead of her.

"Are you retarded?" Katharine demands. Hastily, she amends, "You know what? Don't answer that. I probably don't want to know."

"You seem crankier than usual," Colin observes.

"I wonder why that is." Katharine gives him a pointed look. "Maybe it has something to do with the complete jackass who woke me up at four in the morning."

Colin's expression is a perfect study of innocence. "Hmm, complete jackass, you say? I don't think I know that person."

Katharine ignores him in lieu of continuing her essay. She repeats, 'don't fall for the bait,' over and over in her head like a mantra, thinking back to the parenting books she read earlier while waiting for Colin to haul his haggard, hungover ass to their tutoring session. They all seem to agree that when a child is acting out for attention, the best thing to do is calmly ignore their attempts to manipulate. And Colin is like an overgrown child, so the same concepts should apply to him, right?

"Are you giving me the silent treatment?"

"..."

"You are, aren't you?!"

"..."

"Come on, Kat, that's not fair."

"You know what isn't fair?" Katharine demands hotly. "Being woken up at four in the morning when I have an exam in my Latin Prose class at nine. I'm your tutor, not your babysitter, so stop being a dick."

Colin has the decency to look abashed. "Sorry, you're right." He scratches the back of his head awkwardly and shifts his gaze back to the book in front of him. "I acted like a douche. Sorry."

Katharine sighs and slaps her laptop closed with her open hand. "No, it's okay, I should be the one apologizing," she says. "I... I didn't mean to snap at you; I just get cranky when I'm tired."

"Well, no wonder," Colin rolls his eyes. "You spend all your time in this uncomfy library. Why don't we finish up somewhere more relaxing?"

Katharine gives him a suspicious look from the corner of her eye, though she's already packing up her books. "This isn't just some ploy to get me alone so you can ravish me at your will, is it?"

"Tempting," Colin says. "But no. I'll behave."

Katharine quiets her laugh by clamping a hand over her mouth. "Do you even know how?"

Colin gives her a saucy wink. "No, but you could teach me."

They end up finishing their session in Katharine's dorm room, books spread out across the floor as they eat microwaved ramen noodles and drink Coke straight from the cans. It's less strained this way, when Katharine's not hiding behind her stacks of books and Colin's not forced to rein in his boisterous personality every five seconds for fear of the wrath of Mrs. Carter's eyebrow.

They're discussing motifs in Agnes Grey, which Dr. Kripke had assigned in Intro to Lit that morning, when the door opens and a squeal of "Sasquatch?!" signals the arrival of Katharine's roommate, Layna. "Oh my god," Layna says before she drops to the floor in front of Colin. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"You two know each other?" Katharine asks, confused.

"Yeah, I went to Layna for tutoring before you," Colin explains, laughing. "But she dumped me for some hot stud she's had her eye on. Kicked me out of her table and everything."

"Hey," Layna protests. "I referred you to one of my colleagues. It's not like I left you high and dry." She waves her hand airily. "Besides, can you blame me? Jake Logan is sex on legs. Did you see his perfect ass? Oh my god!" She squeals.

"Layna! No drooling on the carpet!" Katharine jokes.

"I can't help it!" Layna snatches Katharine's cup of ramen, swiping a quick bite before handing it back. "I've been trying to get in that kid's pants since freshman year."

"I feel your pain," Colin says, trying (and failing) to get an arm slung over Katharine's shoulders. Katharine just bats him away with a sharp look that speaks of slow, painful death if he doesn't behave himself. Basically, the usual.

Layna looks meaningfully between Colin and Katharine with a grin that could almost be considered a leer. "Oh," she says, sounding far too amused for Katharine's liking. "Am I interrupting something then?"

Katharine says, "No, you most certainly are not!" at the same time Colin says, "Maybe, but hey, threesomes are always fun."

"Colin!" Katharine hisses, giving him a sound smack along the side of his head. "Knock it off!"

"Hmm, you two look like you'd be a little too rough for my tastes-what, with the hitting and verbal assault," Layna says, trying very hard to stifle her giggles... and not succeeding in the least. "I think I'll sit this one out."

"I'm surrounded by sexual deviants!" Katharine groans out as she power-flops onto her back, blonde hair fanning across the pale carpeting.

"You love it," Colin assures her. And because Katharine thinks he just can't help being a douche sometimes, he adds, "Miss Johnson."

She gives him a sour look in response. "You are such a dick."

Layna cackles with unadulterated glee. "Miss Johnson? That's the most adorable thing I have ever heard!"

"Kill me now," Katharine pleads. No one listens.

"Dude, I don't even believe in spanking, but I would've loved to do it to those kids," Colin proclaims loud enough for everyone in the library-and possibly everyone from here to China-to hear. Katharine gives him a horrified look and buries her face in her book against the few glares and curious on-lookers Colin's pronouncement gained. She doesn't want to be guilty by association and all that.

"What the hell are you talking about?" Katharine whispers, peeking her head over the top of her book until her gray eyes are seen. She's hoping to convey to Colin just how unamused she is by his continued disruptions without the whole use of her face, but Colin is completely oblivious, digging through his bag enthusiastically and paying absolutely no attention to the fact that Mrs. Carter is probably reporting him to campus police for purported child abuse at this very moment.

"The kids," Colin says, as if that explains everything. "The little demon spawns from the deepest bowels of hell?" he tries again. It isn't until he pulls out his copy of Agnes Grey that comprehension dawns on Katharine.

"Oh thank god you're talking about fictional characters," Katharine says, relieved.

"Why?" Colin asks with a grin. "Were you worried you couldn't have my babies if I was a child-hating psychopath?"

"No," Katharine replies and returns her attention to her book with a haughty sniff. "Because I wouldn't have your babies even if you weren't a child-hating psychopath. And I'm not entirely sure you aren't, so whatever."

"Everyone wants to have my babies," Colin protests.

Katharine snorts. "Apparently not."

"You know, you're really starting to mess with my self-esteem," Colin jokes.

"Your self-esteem or your ego?" Katharine asks.

"Okay, well, both."

"Exactly."

"I am so in," Layna says excitedly. She drops onto Katharine's bed, wincing when she lands on an Ancient Greek II textbook. "Ouch!"

"In what?" Katharine asks after she has rescued her homework from Layna's ass.

"Jake Logan's pants!" Layna pumps a celebratory fist in the air as Katharine stares at her friend with wry amusement, tucking a piece of dirty blonde hair behind her ear that falls into her face again two seconds later.

Katharine rolls her eyes and starts gathering the textbooks and papers scattered around her bed. "You're out of control."

"That doesn't change the fact that an extremely gorgeous guy is about to ask me on a date," Layna says. "It's going to happen; I can feel it."

"Well, maybe you should feel some compassion for your poor, overworked roommate and let her get back to studying."

Layna laughs. "Well, maybe my poor, overworked roommate should pull the stick out of her ass and have some fun, instead of sitting around studying all day."

"I can't help it," Katharine says with a frustrated huff. "Colin is seriously messing up my schedule. Is it really necessary that he gets tutored every day?"

"Yes," Layna says mock-solemnly. "How else is he gonna get you out of your shell?"

Katharine raises a brow. "The hell is that supposed to mean?"

Layna gives her an exasperated look and stands from the bed. She walks the three steps to her own bed and power flops face-down onto it. "He likes you, dumbass, or haven't you noticed his not-so-subtle mooning?"

"Oh, I've noticed," Katharine says darkly. "I noticed that he wants to have sex with me-trust me, he's made it pretty clear-but you know I'm not a... one-night stand kind of girl. I'm not gonna sleep with him."

Layna gives an understanding nod, already knowing her friend so well after two years that Katharine almost feels like they've been friends their whole lives-sisters, even. "I get that," she says with a shrug. "You like-like him and you think he only wants a fling. Thankfully for the universe at large, you're usually wrong when it comes to the male gender."

"I am not!" Katharine protests, heavily offended.

"Sweetie, you couldn't tell if a guy wanted you even if he dropped to one knee and proposed," Layna tells her. "You're completely oblivious. It's adorable."

Katharine opens her mouth for further argument, but decides against it when she sees Layna's blue eyes dancing with amusement. "I'd tell you that you're a douche, but I'm pretty sure you've already realized it."

"Oh, don't worry," Layna says and plucks a magazine from her nightstand. "I have."

Katharine does her best to put Layna's words from her mind when she meets with Colin that night. She turns down his suggestion to take their session to her dorm room again and forgoes as much of the small talk that is humanly possible when dealing with one Colin Evans. "Have you finished reading The House of the Vampire yet?"

Colin nods absently and pulls the book from his messenger bag. "Yeah, last night." His copy is a bit bent at the spine and Katharine focuses on the little creases there like they hold all the answers to the universe.

"And you really read it? Cover to cover?" Katharine prods. "You didn't just read the CliffNotes like you did with Beowulf?"

"You made me swear on my dog's life that I wouldn't do that ever again," Colin says with an exasperated eye roll, but Katharine can tell it's done in good humor. "So, yes, I read it; cover to freaking cover."

Katharine finds herself smiling a bit as she finally looks up from the creased binding and straight into Colin's eyes. "I'm glad."

A week later, Katharine walks into her room to find a shirtless Layna practically sucking the tonsils from the throat of an extremely attractive man. She can only see the rippling muscles of his back from this point of view, but holy. Fucking. Shit. Is that Jake? How could Layna possibly forget to mention that he wasn't just gorgeous, but a damned Eros, sans-wings?

"Oh!" she says loudly, startling them apart. "My god. Sorry! I didn't realize... I'll just... um, yeah. Bye." She awkwardly shuffles toward the door as the man blushes bright red at her. It isn't until she's halfway down the hall that she lets herself burst out laughing.

Colin hands her the new book his LGBT Lit professor assigned him. "Have you read this one?"

"The Well of Loneliness?" Katharine nods. "Back in high school. What do you think of it so far?"

Colin considers his next words for a long moment. "I think it's unfair the way the mother treats Stephen, like she's angry at her just for being a girl."

Katharine hums in acquiescence. "Anna isn't resentful only because Stephen is a girl," she corrects. "But that she is the son Anna wanted in a girl's body."

"Well, still. People shouldn't be judged just for being themselves." Colin says it with such an infinite sadness in his voice that Katharine blinks at him, shocked silent. "I... need to go. See you tomorrow?"

"Sure," Katharine replies, feeling like she's missed something huge.

But she doesn't see him the next day, because he never shows up for their session. In fact, three days pass with no sign of the lumbering brunette, leaving Katharine increasingly confused and irritated. She doesn't think it's like Colin to simply stand someone up like this; not even his cranky, slave-driving tutor. But Colin doesn't call her, doesn't stop by the library or her dorm to say, "oh sorry, I've been real busy. We could pick up next week?" He just... vanishes, like he wasn't even there to begin with, except for the deep feeling of loss that fills Katharine's gut.

Well, fuck that, Katharine thinks. She isn't gonna stand by and let some guy get away with wasting her time. She's a busy girl, after all, with a double-major in English and Classics and a crappy job tutoring failing jocks to keep up her stock of ramen and easy mac. And she refused to believe she could be upset about anything else.

Katharine's first thought is to track Colin down and demand to know where the hell he's been, but as she is plotting-in great detail-just how fully she wants kick his ass, something occurs to her; despite the weeks together in the library, pouring over old books and laughing and bickering and swiping at each other, she doesn't know anything about Colin. She doesn't know in which dorm hall he lives, where he goes in his free time, what he likes to do, or even who his friends are.

She still has his number in her phone from when he drunk dialed her, but he isn't picking up any of her calls, and she's tired of bitching at his voicemail when all she wants to do is bitch at him.

It's with a growing ill mood that she retreats to her room to regroup and do something more productive than worry about one wayward pupil. She blinks when she steps into the room to find Layna and Jake sitting on Layna' bed, surprisingly clothed and not making out like animals. "Um, hi," she says, waving at Jake with a bit of lingering shyness from their last encounter. Layna snorts at her.

"Hi," Jake says, equally awkward.

Layna intervenes with a roll of her eyes. "Katharine, this is Jake. Jake, Katharine."

"Nice to meet you," they say almost at once.

"We felt kind of bad about you... um, walking in on us in such a compromising position," Layna says and widens her eyes meaningfully at the back of Jake's head to signify that she, personally, felt no such thing. "So I thought I'd take the time to introduce you two properly."

"I've heard a lot about you," Jake says sincerely. He's obviously trying hard to make a good impression and Katharine briefly wonders how in the hell Layna gets a guy that goes out of his way to be polite to her best friend, while Katharine gets one that offers a threesome. The universe really is a bitch sometimes.

"Oh, god," Katharine replies dramatically. "I don't even want to know what Layna has been telling you."

Jake laughs. "It was all good things, I promise."

"That's what they always say," Katharine grumbles and flops onto her bed.

"You look kinda down," Layna observes, raking an overly critical eye over Katharine. "You okay?"

"I'm fine," Katharine says unconvincingly. "Just tired."

Layna rolls her eyes. "That's utter bullshit and you know it."

Katharine sighs and runs her hand along her comforter, a thick, green one going threadbare from use that Katharine brought with her from home back in freshman year. "Colin's MIA," she says after a lengthy pause. "He hasn't been to our sessions in a few days and he looked really upset the last time I saw him." She curls her fingers into the worn fabric of the blanket, momentarily soothed by the familiarity. "I guess I'm just worried."

"Who are we talking about?" Jake asks. "It's just, I know a lot of people around campus; I might be able to tell you where he is."

"Colin," Katharine says, and tries to stop the dopey smile from creeping across her face just from saying his name. God, she's retarded. "Colin Evans."

Jake beams. "I know Colin! He's my lab partner in Sociology."

"Oh my god," Katharine jumps up. "Jake, you darling! I need to know which dorm building he lives in, stat."

Katharine takes a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves before she knocks on Colin's door. She feels ridiculously anxious as she waits in the hall, smiling weakly at a group of passing football players. They're tracking mud through along the gray carpet and a stench of grass and sweat follows after them like a bad afterthought. Katharine's nose is still scrunched up in disgust when Colin opens the door, his tall frame filling the entire doorway.

Colin's eyes widen as he takes her in. "Katharine! What are you doing here?"

"Making sure your body wasn't found in a ditch somewhere, you ass," she grits out. Then, "Are you going to invite me in or what?"

Colin seems to blink himself back into reality and he sheepishly steps away from the door frame. "Yeah, sorry," he says, scratching the back of his head. "Come in."

Katharine steps in the room, taking in the mess of dirty laundry and workout equipment and papers strewn across the floor. She raises an eyebrow at him and he gives her another sheepish look. "Where have you been?" she cuts straight to the point. Seeing Colin completely unharmed and standing awkwardly in a pair of low-riding workout shorts and little else is making her irritated, mostly at herself for the warmth that spreads through her stomach because of said low-riding shorts. "You... you haven't been to our sessions in a few days."

"Katharine, look, I'm-"

"I mean, I know I'm not always nice to you and whatever, but if you didn't want to be tutored by me anymore, you should have just said so instead of making me wonder if you were okay and-"

"Katharine, please listen-"

"You have my number, you could've called or-"

"I didn't want to bother you anymore!" Colin blurts, a flush working across his face.

Katharine blinks at him. Pauses, then blinks again. "What?"

"Look, I know you don't..." he runs a hand through his hair, looking torn. "You don't feel the same way about me that... just whatever. You don't need to worry about me bothering you anymore; I dropped LGBT and I got someone else to offer to help me with Intro to Lit."

Katharine feels anger bubbling up in her-anger at herself for blowing a chance at happiness again and anger at Colin for the obvious dismissal. "You could have just said," she repeated. "That you didn't want me to tutor you anymore, instead of me having to track you down just to hear it as an afterthought."

Colin's eyes widen. "Katharine, please," he says in earnest. "I didn't think you'd mind. I thought... I thought you'd be happier the less I talked to you."

And then things seem to rush back to Katharine in a flood-the extra English class, the books Colin started reading without prompting (some not even assigned to him,) the way he would lay it on the table and ask Katharine questions about it, as if they were two literature scholars deep in debate, and the cryptic words he spoke to her the last time she saw him, coupled with the most gut-wrenching expression of sadness that hurt Katharine all the way to her soul. "You... you idiot!" she yells, not sure if she's talking about herself or Colin or both.

Colin looks confused and a bit alarmed at her outburst, takes a step towards her before he thinks against it and takes a step back instead. "Katharine, what-?"

"You left because you thought I don't like you, didn't you?" Katharine asks. She waits for Colin to nod before she says, "Except you're wrong. I do like you, Colin; I only shot you down so many times because you never showed interest in anything other than sex, and I'm not the kind of girl that enjoys casual sex-it always turns into something more for me." She blushes as she mumbles that last part, looking extremely uncomfortable as she loses the will to stare into Colin's wide, earnest eyes any longer and ducks her head. "But you did show interest, in your own, backwards way."

"Backwards?" Colin cuts in, trying to look offended.

"Backwards," Katharine confirms with a small smile. "The class, the books, the long discussions... you were trying to show interest in something I enjoy-something I love, weren't you?" She huffs out an exasperated laugh. "Except subtle communication isn't really my strong suit, Colin. I understand books and words and poetry, not people; aside from a scarily-accurate gaydar, I'm terrible at reading people." She finally finds the courage to look him in the eyes again, and she's relieved to see them sparkling with amusement and happiness. Her voice turns serious as she adds, "In the future, you're going to have to tell me things you want me to know. I don't know how many more of these amazing epiphanies I have in me."

"So, you're saying that you..." Colin shoves his hands in his pockets, looking awkward again. "That you want to date me?"

Katharine nods. "But you should know ahead of time that I wasn't just putting on a show of a supremely boring life just so you'd lose interest and leave me alone-that's all me, babe. I live in my books and I spend more time in the library than I do in my own room. If you're expecting something else, then-"

"Katharine," Colin interrupts with a laugh. "Calm down. You're not going to waylay me with the fact that you're a huge nerd-I already know that's who you are." Quietly, he adds, "that's who I want you to be," and then he leans down and kisses her.

True love is nothing like it is in the fairytale books Katharine used to read as a child-Colin's still a pain in the ass and Katharine still gets pissed at him for yelling in the library, hissing a creative litany of curse words at him every time he does it-but it's theirs and completely perfect in its own dysfunctional way and they don't plan to lose it anytime soon.