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The last time it rained this hard, Kat almost confessed a sort-of crush on Paz. It was sort-of because except for a few stray thoughts about Annie, Kat hadn't really noticed girls in 'that way'.

Maybe, that wasn't completely true -- Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft had certainly... made the movie more enjoyable than she would ever admit to.

But that night, Kat had her first real inkling of her attraction toward the same sex. Thinking back to it, Kat's embarrassed by how obvious it was and how dense she was not to realize it until Paz pointed it out. The good thing of that situation was getting to tease Paz about it now. She hasn't admit it, but Kat knows Paz wishes that night had played out differently. At least things worked out, for both of them, in the end.

There was one thing though that hadn't been resolved yet.

Shrugging off her jacket and kicking off her wet sneakers, Kat bit her lip as she thought about the task ahead of her. The flat she grew up in still smelled the same--a soft perfume with a tinge of ozone that Kat suspected came from her mother. It was familiar; comforting.

It didn't do much to ease her nerves but it helped enough to keep Kat from changing her mind. Although anything could happen.

"Mom?" Kat called as she made her way to the center of the living room.

"I'm in the kitchen!" Anja called. Kat found her mother peeling potatoes at the kitchen sink, the woman smiling cheerily at her as she entered. "I was worried the rain might keep you away."

"It's just a little rain. I wouldn't let it stop me from coming to see you." Kat paused to kiss her mother's cheek, then rolled up her sleeves and washed her hands, careful to be mindful of the bowl of already peeled potatoes in the sink. "Annie said hi," she added.

Anja frowned slightly. "Why didn't she come too?"

Shrugging, Kat took the potato peeler from her mother, nudging her out of the way with her hip. Since Annie had returned from her summer in the forest, she tended to wander off without telling Kat much. After she came back, sometimes she would fill Kat in on what she'd been up to, but not always.

"I'm not sure where Annie ran off to today, but she apologized for not being able to come and said hi."

Busying herself with stirring a pot of broccoli on the stovetop, Anja nodded in understanding. "Hopefully she can be able to come next week," she said.

"Yeah, maybe."

The pair slipped into a comfortable silence as Kat finished peeling the potatoes then helped her mother dump them into a waiting pot of boiling water. Moving to the counter, they began chopping onions and scallions. Kat's mind slipped back to Paz and she ducked her face to keep her mother from seeing the faint blush that colored her cheeks.

"Katerina," Anja said, her voice snapping Kat out of her thoughts. "It's been a long time since you've said anything about any boys."

Kat's cheeks flamed red as she quickly realized where her mother was going with this.

"Have you met a boy, Katerina?" Anja's smile was equal parts teasing and knowing.

"N-no!" Kat stammered.

Anja playfully elbowed her daughter, a mischievious twinkle in her eye. "Come, Katerina, you can tell me."

"I'm not dating any boys, mom," Kat said, truthfully. Though it was the truth, her voice crackled slightly and the blush refused to go away. "Um, what do you want me to do with these chopped onions?"

"Put them in the mixing bowl," Anja said, nodding at a bowl by her side. "Are you seeing a girl then?"

Kat was so caught off-guard by the sly way her mother asked the question that she blinked owlishly at her for a long moment before she could properly react. "Mom!" Kat cried--her blush felt hot enough to feel feverish.

Anja's laughter filled the kitchen, doing little to comfort her flustered daughter. "I am only teasing, Katerina," she said once she had reeled in her laughter some.

To Kat's surprise, Anja added, "But it is okay if you were to like girls, Katerina. Your father and I would still love you the same."

A tension Kat had been feeling within her chest suddenly rushed out of her in a relieved sigh. She wasn't sure what she expected her mother to say to her coming out about Paz but knowing now gave Kat confidence. Though not the courage to come right out with it.

They continued their work on the potato salad, speaking of school and laughing when Kat tried to heat oil on the stove only to realize ten minutes later she hadn't turned on the flame. It wasn't until well after Kat's father had come home and the last batch of fried chicken was being taken out of the pan that Kat decided to just get it out before she lost her nerve completely.

"Mom, do you remember that girl in my class - the one I was helping at the animal place?" Kat asked, leaning against the kitchen counter on one elbow. Her opposite hand was clenching the center of her dangling forearm, trying to ground herself long enough to get the words out.

For a moment Anja didn't answer as she shut off the stove, making a small face in thought. "Yes--Paz, wasn't it?" she asked, going to the fridge to retrieve the potato salad.

"Yeah, her." Kat paused a moment, examining the floor as she struggled onward. When she looked up, her mother was looking at her expectently, waiting for her to go on. Heat rushed to Kat's face again.

"Is that who you are dating?" Anja asked.

"Mom!" Kat's protested shout came out more squeaky than she intended. Her eyes returned to the floor as she sighed, hesitated, and finally nodded.

"She's a cute girl and she seems nice." Anja smiled. "Good catch, Katerina."

Smiling dumbly, Kat's blush was more at that thought of Paz than any embarrassment she felt previously. Catching herself, she swallowed thickly still feeling uncertain by her mother's abrupt acceptance of the situation. "Do you really mean that? You're really okay with me dating another girl?" Kat asked.

"Another? You've dated other girls?"

"No!"

Again the room filled with Anja's laughter as Kat helplessly stared on at her. It took her a moment to realize her mother was only teasing her and she joined in with the laughter, mostly out of nerves.

"What's so funny?" Donald asked as he entered the room.

"Mom's teasing me," Kat said, feeling slightly anxious again. She had had her mother's reaction, but not her father's yet.

Leaning against her husband, Anja giggled as she said, "Katerina has a girlfriend."

It was Donald's turn to blush as he looked over at his daughter. They shared the same look of anxious awkwardness before he smiled softly. "Well I hope we get to meet her soon," he said.

It seemed too good to be true, Kat thought. But then her mother was shooing her father's hand away from the potato salad; everything back to normal. They were practically dancing around as Anja played keep away from her husband. It made Kat laugh in relief; it helped her feel like, yes, this was real.

Eventually Anja gave her husband the bowl and one with broccoli and they shared a playful kiss before he disappeared into the dining room. Taking the plate of chicken, Anja instructed Kat to bring the plates and forks. Instead, though, Kat hugged her mother tightly around the middle, catching Anja off-guard. Recovering quickly, Anja placed a kiss on Kat's head, smiling.