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10 February 2013 @ 10:19 pm
Fic Post: Finding a Net Below  
I cant even explain this one guys. But here it is anyway.

Title: Finding a Net Below
Author: Montiese
Category: AU/Romance
Pairing: John Barton/Kate Wolcott
Rating: TEEN
Summary: “You have to give me a different subject. I want to prove to myself that I'm not a bad date.”
Author’s Note: This story is written in the New England universe. Don’t even ask me how it came to be because I don’t know. These characters just started speaking and I started writing. They’ve never met in canon, only in the caverns of my mind. Kate Wolcott is from the season 4 episode The Big Wheel and John Barton is from the Season 5 episode A Thousand Words. The story title comes from the Martina McBride Safe in the Arms of Love.


“No, it was awesome, I'm serious.” She laughed. “And I'm slightly intoxicated and I have to tell you that that feels good because I don’t often get to be that way.”

“I see that.” he smiled.

She looked at him and he wore a whimsical smile on his face. He had a really nice smile; it looked like something he didn’t do often. Still, she saw something else in his friendly blue eyes.

“But I'm not an alcoholic or anything…I promise.”

“Cross your heart and hope to die or it doesn’t count.” He said.

“Oh my God,” she laughed again. “Really?”

“Nope, I'm just joking.”

“Good, but I’ll cross my heart anyway for good measure.”

They were walking down the street in Manchester after going to a bar called Good Old Days. It was one of John’s favorite places; he loved the cold beer and the house band. They were a 70s cover band called Baby Come Back. After a long week of work he could go, have a drink or two, relax and listen to some good music. He knew he couldn’t drink too much because he was driving.

Still, he’d rather Good Old Days than The Elbow. He’d grown to love Newberry as his adopted home…had lived there for nearly a quarter century. Getting away from it was always good for a little while though. It was good to be where people didn’t know anything about you. You could blend into the scenery or bond with people over a shared love of music or beer.

You didn’t have to worry about who was saying what and how they were saying it. So when he finally got up the courage to call Kate Wolcott and ask her out John knew they weren't going to do it in Newberry. It was his ex-wife’s town; her family still lived there though she had relocated. There was hardly a day that went by, good or bad, that he didn’t feel watched. Most people probably felt the same way.

“Did you have fun tonight?” He asked.

“I had a wonderful time.” she stopped at his Ford F-150 parked on the sidewalk. It was one of the many American trucks driving down the streets of Newberry on any given day. “I had a long week at work and I've been looking forward to this since you called. I can even admit to marking the days on my calendar.”

“Should I feel special?” John grinned as he opened the passenger door for her. Once Kate was safe inside, he went around and got into the driver’s seat.

“Yeah, it’s OK if you do.” she nodded.

“So work was bad this week?”

“Not bad, just really busy. And Stanley is having some problems at school. I think he's being bullied but he doesn’t want to talk to me about it. He’s ten; thinks he can handle everything. On Monday I'm going to meet with his teacher and his assistant to make sure everything’s OK. Its not easy for him; a new kid in a new town. Are any of the kids here not perfect, and I only mean that in their lack of physical disabilities?”

“We have a few kids who aren’t, and it’s not easy for them either.” He put his key in the ignition, turning down Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on the radio. “Maybe we can get him a Big Brother; someone he feels like he can talk to. It’s not always easy for a boy to open up to his mom.”

“That’s something I've been thinking about too. Get out of my brain you.” she laughed. “It’s possible I could be turning into one of the most boring people alive, always talking about my kid.”

“You have a good kid.” John replied. “But if you want to talk about something else I want to listen to that too.”

“Did Sam invite you to the bowling party last month to hook us up?” Kate asked.

“Whoa, I didn’t see that coming.” John looked at her. “Is that what you think?”

“I think it’s not easy to be a single woman in a town of 2000 people.”

“It’s not easy being a single man either. Sam didn’t actually invite me, Will LaMontagne did. We work together at the Sheriff’s Department. His wife may have told him to invite me because we know each other well but I can't say. I always have a good time at Kassmeyer Bowl. I don’t think people were trying to throw us together, per se. I know Sam and Jessie just wanted you to feel welcome.”

“I'm working with Aaron Hotchner now at the law firm. He has a big case and I've been doing a lot of his research. It calls for late nights but Amanda has been staying with Stanley. She’s been a godsend to us. Let me just tell you how weird it is knowing what your boss looks like in casual clothes and bowling shoes.”

“I don’t think Aaron Hotchner wears casual clothes very much.” John replied. “You don’t feel like I was pushed on you, do you Kate? You don’t feel like I pushed on you?”

“No, it was just something that went through my head.” She shook her head. “I actually really appreciate being able to spend some time doing adult things. It’s been Stanley and I for so long; I've been Mom.”

“That can't be easy with his dad not in the picture.”

John couldn’t have kids. He wanted them, always had an amazing relationship with his own dad. He and his wife Laura tried for years and years and years. When they found out his low sperm count was their problem things were never the same between them. John loved her but accepted her divorce because he knew she wanted motherhood before it was too late. She had two kids now with some ad executive outside of Boston. He had a two bedroom apartment in a town that wasn’t even his own.

“I adopted Stanley.” Kate replied. “He was my foster child for 2 years and then we started the adoption process. I always wanted a family but things didn’t work out like I planned. I didn’t want to do it on my own but I knew it was fate when he ended up on my doorstep.”

“He was in the foster care system? Was it because he was blind?”

“No, his mother loved him very much. She was a crime victim and when she died her family didn’t want the responsibility. It can be a lot but at the end of the day Stanley is a pretty average ten year old. OK, his brain isn’t…but he is. I love him to pieces. And we’re talking about my son again.”

“That just means you're a good mom.” John smiled. “I don’t mind one bit, talking about him.”

“You have to give me a different subject. I want to prove to myself that I'm not a bad date.”

“You're definitely not a bad date. But if you want to talk about something else, what was your favorite song that the band performed tonight?”

Detroit Rock City for sure!” she exclaimed. “Oh my God, I don’t know how I didn’t lose my mind when it came on.”

“You did, kind of.”

“I did…why didn’t you tell me?”

“You looked so cute I didn’t want to ruin that.”

“My sister was like the recording secretary in the Kiss army and she brought my brother and I along with her. My parents weren't fond of the music but dancing and rocking out together was one of the few times we were all getting along so they let it slide. Other than my dad’s Springsteen obsession, rock music was frowned upon in my house. Pop music was fine but my parents were so 80s; they believed all the stories of devil worship and teen suicide.”

“Have they ever come around?” John asked.

“Yes and no. They figure since we’re grownups now they don’t get a say anyway. My brother is a big rock and metal head. I think my sister just liked it because my parents loathed it but I have to thank her for introducing me. The whole set was great but Kiss was my favorite. What about you?”

“I love when they do My Life, though Give a Little Bit is a close second.”

“It was a great show.” Kate smiled, leaning back in her seat.

Date #2 was a rousing success. A week ago they’d gone out for the first time. It was a low key thing, just a casual dinner at Friday’s in Manchester. But Kate had a good time with the music over the PA system and talking to John. He was easy to talk to.

He was calm, kind, and a good listener. It had been a long time since she’d just gone out and chatted the night away. She didn’t have a lot of girlfriends anymore; time moved a lot of people away. Buffalo had its share of bad memories for her and for Stanley and it was time to move on. She didn’t come to Newberry for a love connection, though Kate wasn’t thrilled with the idea of being forever alone.

She came to stand on her own two feet again. She came to find a place where her son felt safe and secure. So far, nearly two months in, they were settling as best they could. John Barton was a pleasant surprise. He definitely didn’t look the part of the white knight…short, stocky, with a shiny bald head.

But she liked him. It had only been two dates, no need to jump the gun. Two good dates though were at least something to smile about. She lived in a small town now. If there was something Kate needed to know about John Barton surely she could find out even before he told her.

“I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.” John turned his high beams as they drove down 101 toward Newberry. It was getting cloudier; rain was in the forecast for the weekend. “Maybe we could do it again next week.”

“Oh yeah, I’d like that.”

“You would?” John glanced at her.

“Mmm hmm.” she looked back at him and smiled.

“Is that the beer talking?”

“No John Barton, I'm not that drunk.” Kate poked his arm. “I would like to see you again…go on another date.”

“So it’s OK to call them dates?” he felt so silly for asking but he didn’t want to impose his feelings on her.

Not that he had those feelings, not yet, but it was hard not to like Kate. She was a pretty, smart, bubbly blonde. She liked beer and had fun bowling or hanging out in a bar. She didn’t seem to mind at all that he was short or bald. Talking to her was one of the easiest things John had done in a long time.

It wasn’t as if he hadn't been on his share of blind dates in the past five years or so. Most were hellish experiences. They probably weren't like that for everyone but they were for him. With Kate he felt comfortable. He had from the first day he met her in the bowling alley.

“It’s OK.”

John smiled but didn’t say much more. The rest of the ride home was quick. There was a little small talk and some good music on the radio. John loved classic rock so he usually had that station on.

When songs he loved played he never felt lonely. Pulling up to Kate and Stanley’s house on Canal Street, he put on his blinkers. The living room light glowed in the window but it was nearly eleven so Stanley was probably asleep. The block was alive, it was Friday night after all and this street was known for its partying.

“So I’ll call you?” he unbuckled his seatbelt.

“I’ll call you.” Kate did the same.

“I’ll walk you to your door.”

“Thanks John.”

He got out of the car just as it started to drizzle. He went around to the passenger side, let Kate out, and held out his arm. She smiled as she took it. They walked up the steps to her house and Kate fished her keys out of her purse.

The moment was a little awkward but there were few times when a first kiss wouldn’t be. For her it was tentative, soft. When John put his arms around her and pulled her in, Kate let it envelope her. A few inches shorter than he was, she sighed when John rested his forehead on hers.

“I’ll see you soon.” He whispered, his lips still close to hers.

Kate kissed him once more and then opened the security screen door. Inside, she turned and waved. John did the same. He smiled as she closed her door. Whistling, he walked back down the steps and to his truck.

Sitting in the driver’s seat, he couldn’t help but smile as he ran his fingers over his lips. Damn, that was a good kiss. It was a very, very good kiss. John refused to get too far ahead of himself. That wasn’t easy since a man in his forties rarely got butterflies in his stomach. He would do his best though.

“How did it go?” Amanda asked when Kate walked into the den. She was relaxing on the couch with a good book.

“We had a really nice time.” she smiled. “Was Stanley OK?”

“Everything is fine. He kicked my butt in a few video games, he read a couple of chapters of Harry Potter, had dinner, worked on his race car, and then bedtime. He told me that tomorrow if it doesn’t rain too much he's going to be back out on his scooter.”

“I don’t try to hold him back from anything but I'm so afraid he’s going to mow down Whiskers. She’s our neighbor’s cat. They’ve already had one confrontation.”

“I'm sure he’ll be fine.” Amanda laughed and stood up. “I'm glad you had a good time. John is one of the good guys…the whole town thinks so.”

“Oh God, are we a topic of conversation?”

“Not yet; wait for it.”

Kate laughed. She walked Amanda to the door, telling her to drive safely. The rain was falling steadier now. She waited until Amanda was in her Nissan and driving off before closing and locking up the house. Kate went into the kitchen and put the teakettle on.

Taking a moment to finally breathe, she leaned against the counter and touched her lips. They were still tingling from that kiss. John was a hell of a kisser. It had been a long time. With her last boyfriend it was more casual than anything.

He didn’t want kids so it was really just a series of late evening booty calls and the occasional dinner. With John it could be something else. There was no need to jump too far ahead. They could take this slow and really enjoy themselves.

She made herself a cup of tea and turned out all the downstairs lights. Upstairs, she looked in on Stanley. He was sound asleep. His mother hoped he was having sweet dreams. He told her once that he could see in his dreams. Kate wondered what he saw.

In her bedroom, she opened the window. That let in the sound of the rain and the people below. Kate didn’t mind too much; she turned on the radio to combat it. There was this station that played love songs at night. Savage Garden sang as she picked up her phone and dialed a number. She didn’t know why but something was telling her to do it.

“Hello.”

“Did you make it home alright?” she asked.

“Yeah.” John replied.

“What are you doing right now?”

“I'm talking to you. It’s a wonderful way to end the week. I thought it might be that kiss but I was wrong.”

“Was it as nice for you as it was for me?” Kate asked. She sipped her tea.

“Oh yeah. It’s been a while, though that’s embarrassing to say.”

“Don’t be embarrassed John. I think we’re both a little rusty at this. That doesn't mean it can't be a good thing. It can be a really good thing.”

***

 
 
Where am I?: the lair
Feelings: curiouscurious
Background Noise: silence
 
 
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