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Episode 2 and 1/4 - The Unexpected Video Store Meet-Cute

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Jim hasn't seen Annie for three months when he runs into her at the video store.

"Oh, hi," she says, ducking her head and tucking her hair behind her ear.

Something in Jim clenches. He tugs his shirt sleeves over his hands and looks away.

"Hi," he mumbles, wishing he couldn't feel his heart thumping quite so hard in his chest.

"So, uh, how're things?" Annie asks, reaching up to take a movie off the shelf.

"Oh, you don't want that one," Jim says, reaching out and stopping her hand without thinking. He stares at their hands for a long moment before snatching his back. "I mean – things are okay. How – how about you?"

"I'm okay," Annie says, giving him half a smile. "Why don't I want this movie?"

"Oh, I watched it a couple of weeks ago with Pete," Jim waves a hand. "Most of it makes no sense. I mean – time-travelling robots and time-travelling humans and super-computers that take over the world's machinery and use it to enslave the human race? That's just ridiculous."

"One of my friends said it had a pretty good romance in it," Annie says hesitantly, turning the case in her hands.

"Well, I mean, if you like your romance to make no sense," Jim says, waving the other hand and trying not to think about Annie and romance in the same sentence.

"Will it be spoilers if you tell me about it?" Annie asks, tilting her head at Jim. Her hair falls from behind her ear and covers her face. Jim swallows.

"Plot spoilers, actually," he says, shrugging. "I probably shouldn't tell you."

"Maybe, um, maybe you could come and watch it, sometime?" Annie doesn't look at Jim as she speaks, talking instead to the DVD. "Maybe watching it in a different context?"

"Well, I – I guess the effects were pretty good," Jim says, scrubbing a hand over the back of his neck. Why are his palms sweating? "For the eighties, I mean. You – you really want to watch it?"

"Playing that game with you guys has kinda given me a thing for bad sci-fi," Annie says, looking up at Jim through her eyelashes.

Jim is pretty sure this feeling is either a heart attack or something much, much, much more complex.

"Bad sci-fi can be pretty good sometimes," Jim admits, tugging at his sleeves again.

"Are you, uh, doing anything tonight?" Annie asks.

"I'm meant to be playing OpFap with Pete and Ben," Jim says slowly, pausing to draw a deep breath. "But we can do that any time."

"Interested in maybe getting some takeout and watching this bad sci-fi movie with me?" Annie asks. This time she meets Jim's eyes squarely.

"Like a –" Jim stops himself. Gift horse. Mouth. Etc. "I'd – I'd really like that."

Annie smiles and it makes Jim feel like he's floating. He follows her to the counter, forgetting what he came into the video store for in the first place, and watches her paying for the DVD.

She touches his arm as they leave the store and smiles up at him again when he looks down at her. He smiles back, her smile broadens, and he breathes out for the first time in minutes.

He guesses that Terminator movie is good for something after all.