The first weekend that they manage to have off at the same time, Matt comes up to Glasgow. He insists he doesn’t mind, even though Karen offers to go to Cardiff (she may be just a wee bit curious about how things are getting on without her), but he says cheerily that he’ll get a lot of reading done on the train and it’d be nice to look at something that isn’t Wales for a change, even if it’s just her face.
“I’m going to rescind your invitation,” Karen mock-huffs but she’s secretly pleased, and grateful that he’s miles and miles away and can’t read the expression on her face that’s screaming in-love-with-my-former-costar.
“No, you’re not. You’re looking forward to me visiting because you miss me,” he says airily, which is marred by a terrific crash a second later and his pained groan.
She grins. “Tripped?”
“Yes,” he manages.
Karen meets him at the train station when he arrives, bearing a backpack and not much else. She has to blink for a second to make sure it’s him. It feels like it’s been ages since she last saw him and the ache of missing him suddenly explodes in her chest. There must be cameras around somewhere, but the thought doesn’t stop her from rushing him. Matt takes a staggering step backwards when she launches herself at him, arms outstretched for a hug.
“Geez, Kaz,” he says against her ear, the words puffs of damp, hot air on her skin. “Didn’t know you missed me this much.”
“Shut it, you,” she mumbles into his shoulder, breathing him in. His arms are tight around her waist, almost crushing.
The rest of the weekend passes idyllically. They wander different vintage shops while he tells her about what’s happening in Cardiff, punctuating spurts of gossip with teasing about how thick her Scottish brogue has become. She lets him take her out to dinner Saturday night, even though it’s just fish and chips, and they eat it standing outside the shop, huddled together. He raises an eyebrow at her as he helps himself to her chips and Karen’s too happy to even pretend to be annoyed.
It’s over drinks that he mentions Jenna for the first time all day, just an aimless passing thing, but Karen notes how deliberately casual it is. Too casual for it to be actually casual.
“How is she to work with?” she asks, carefully, trying to keep her tone neutral.
Matt avoids her eyes. “Lovely. She’s very lovely. Great actress. Very…vivacious.”
“Well, she sounds great.”
It’s the most awkward conversation she feels like she’s ever had with him and she takes a long sip of her martini to combat the discomfort. She doesn’t dislike Jenna. She has nothing against Jenna. She just…well. She knows what it is and it’s ridiculous.
“She’s not like you though,” Matt says out of nowhere, a bit loudly.
Karen whips up her head. He’s staring at her sideways, his mouth set nervously, but it’s his eyes that startle her the most. Murky and anxious and full of something she can’t quite identify and her heartbeat quickens.
“Um,” is all Karen can say. Her ears feel hot. “She better not be. You’re only allowed one Scottish ginger and that’s me,” she jokes feebly.
Matt turns his gaze away and his voice immediately slides into the familiar, safe banter that she’s used to, and Karen feels both relieved and disappointed. ”Yeah, and one is wretched enough. Couldn’t imagine having two of you around.”
They walk back to her rented flat hours later, happily drunk with their arms slung around each other for balance, singing Christmas carols even though it’s mid-June. He keeps shushing her and she keeps giggling and yes, this is what she’s missed about being with him, her best friend. Them just being together, not talking about work or Jenna or him giving her weird, serious looks that get her unrealistic hopes up.
“Karen,” he says to her at the front door.
She’s fumbling through her purse for the keys. “Yeah?”
“I’m in love with you.”
The keys fall to the stoop from her hand. She stares at him blankly before she bends down to retrieve them, her fingers shaking, her pulse so loud in her ears that it’s blocking everything else out. She tries to take a deep breath, but ends up with three rapid, shallow ones instead.
Matt pulls her up. His half-grin is all nerves, she can tell. “Please say something. Anything.”
“You’re an idiot,” she blurts out.
“Kaz. I’m sorry,” he says quickly, his grin fading. “I didn’t mean to — “
“No, shut up, stop talking, just, stop,” and she has to stop the flood of words coming out of her own mouth, so she kisses him, pressing him up against the door, sliding her arms around his neck. “You’re so stupid,” she says when she breaks away after several long, desperate kisses. “I’ve been in love with you for ages. And you decide to tell me when we’re both pissed, outside my building, at 3 AM. This is the least romantic situation ever. Haven’t you ever seen a film?”
His smile is huge. It’s all she can see. It’s blinding. She feels her own smile in return. “I’ll try better next time.”
“You better,” is all she gets out before he kisses her again.
There isn’t a next time. But the proposal makes up for it.