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An Exercise in Bonding

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Holly loved movies, as almost everyone she'd ever met probably knew. Movies were her escape, her way of living a normal life when hers was miserable. Well, maybe not normal, exactly, but happier. The kind of lives other people led, where they had friends and went places and fell in love. That was what she'd wanted almost every day of her life, and movies gave it to her over and over again. Hundreds of different lives, thousands, and she could experience all of them, all of the things she was sure she'd never have living with her mother.

And then she'd met Bill, and suddenly everything had changed. She went had friends and went places and had adventures, things she'd never thought possible. She moved to her own place and got a job and had a life.

It wasn't easy, maybe not even most of the time, but she loved it, loved doing her own thing, especially since Bill and Jerome were there with her for all of it. She was constantly amazed by the both of them and how patient they always were with her, no matter what. She didn't think she'd ever be able to tell them what that meant to her, how much she appreciated that they cared. The one thing she could do, though, was share movies with them. It was surprisingly difficult at first, both because she wasn't used to being around people at that point and because in some ways, it felt like she was sharing everything.

It was Breakfast at Tiffany's that first time, watched at Bill's house with him in his recliner and Jerome sprawled on the other end of the couch she'd curled into the corner of. She'd been nervous - at being there, at sharing a movie she loved, at all of it - but it had gone well. They'd gotten Chinese food and eaten there in front of the television, and it had been...comfortable. She'd loved it.

It had actually only gotten better after that. She'd asked Bill to go see a movie with her one day, because she liked the idea of going out to see it and because Bill still spent entirely too much time at home himself. He'd agreed, and they'd gone on a Wednesday afternoon, where they'd only shared the theater with a few other people. Holly couldn't have asked for a situation more ideally suited to her enjoyment. Even the fact that it was a cop movie didn't end up being an issue, though just based on her limited knowledge from what they'd gone through with Brady Hartfield, she could tell they'd gotten some things totally wrong.

Bill kept fidgeting, and she worried for a while that he was bored, that he wasn't enjoying himself, that he wouldn't ever want to do this again, but eventually, he leaned toward her and whispered, "Jesus, they couldn't even manage to get the Miranda warning right."

Holly burst into laughter, unexpected both because she hadn't realized Bill was trying to hold back from commenting and because she didn't laugh all that often. Bill smiled at her and settled back in his seat, but throughout, he kept up a running commentary of all the ways the movie was wrong. By the end, they were barely able to keep their laughter quiet enough not to disturb the others in the theater.

And that was the beginning of a routine. If Holly felt like going to a movie, she would ask Bill to come with her. Sometimes he would stay home, but usually only if he really didn't want to see it. It was nice, though, because he was predictable enough in his tastes that Holly began to be able to predict fairly easily whether or not he would agree. For action or sci-fi, almost always. Horror and musicals, he always turned down. Drama and romantic comedies were hit or miss, depending on what he'd heard about the movie before she asked. She liked the pattern of it, and how he would always let her talk about the deeper meaning behind the plot on the drive home.

It was a little bit different with Jerome, though fundamentally similar. Fortunately, he liked a different set of genres than Bill did, as she found out when she first asked him to go to a movie and knew Bill wouldn't like. He would see horror movies with her, and anything animated, which was a bit of a surprise until she remembered he'd probably been seeing them fairly often because of Barb. Jerome would let her talk plot, too, but he was always far more interested in the production values and special effects. That was a nice difference, and really, she had no idea how she's been lucky enough to find two people she wanted to share movie viewing experiences with, let alone who had a breadth of favorites and interests regarding the process. She enjoyed the time with both of them separately, but it was best when it was all of them.

And comedies were where they found that common ground. It was simple that first summer, when Holly was over at Bill's house so often and they were talking about starting up Finders Keepers. Jerome always seemed to know when she was over (or maybe he just stopped by to see Bill even when she wasn't there), and he would inevitably show up, forcing them to take a break. And if there was a good comedy playing, Holly would mention it, and off they'd go. Those were her favorite times, really. Even if the movies were bad (as they not infrequently were), she still enjoyed just being around her two favorite people in the world, watching their reactions and sometimes laughing just because they were.

As time passed, it was more difficult to make time for a movie together, especially once Jerome headed off to college. She still texted Jerome frequently, and she knew Bill spoke to him fairly regularly, but that didn't make her miss him any less. By unspoken agreement, she and Bill never saw comedies when it was just the two of them. It didn't feel right the one time they tried, and Holly was perfectly fine with waiting until Jerome was back home for a weekend and they could go together.

It was obvious that something would have to change eventually. She had assumed that would be Jerome graduating from college, getting a job somewhere far away and visiting for the holidays; she would have preferred that. Instead, it's her and Jerome sitting in a nearly-empty theater, large bucket of popcorn on the seat between them, Bill's presence keenly missed, even as they laughed together.