When Matt drops Katie off outside of a house party, half a block away due to the massive line of cars on the side of the road, he pretty much figures immediately that he'll be back here sooner rather than later.
He doesn't blame her for wanting to go, even though they both know that she won't have a good time at all. It's the first time that she's been invited to something in over a year, and she'd said that it was possibly the first time that she'd ever been invited to something for a reason other than pity. Even though she'd briefly mentioned being worried about some kids who smoke and drink being there, she'd still begged him to lie to their parents and say that she was staying at the library late. They've always been fine with her staying out at odd hours, surprisingly enough, as long as they know where she is.
He wants her to have friends, of course he does, but he doesn't want her to be friends with kids who make bad decisions. Sure, he supposes that stoners probably aren't the biggest bullies out there, since hippies are all about peace and love and whatever, but maybe these stoners are a very niche, very mean kind. Or there's just the fact that he doesn't want Katie getting wrapped up in drugs!
You know her better than to worry about that, Matt thinks to himself. They've spent so many nights together curled up on the couch or one of their beds, cracking jokes about how they'd much rather watch old sci-fi movies than go out partying. Whenever he asks her about where she's going and she's just on her way to the kitchen or the bathroom, Katie will giggle through declarations about how she's going to go sell hardcore drugs to the street raccoons. They've always been much more content with their quiet nights at home, so he's not sure why he's so ... worried.
Ugh. He knows that he's overreacting, that he's being the overprotective big brother that he always tells himself that he'll never be, but he just can't help it. She's always been right at his side, always where he can check up on her.
It's why he's relieved, not disappointed at having to get off of the couch, when his phone starts to buzz around eleven. He's had it at the ready ever since he'd dropped her off, so he only scrambles for his phone for a moment before answering. "Hey there," he says, not bothering to be formal when he already knows who's on the other end of the phone, even without checking the caller ID. He has a ringtone specifically for her, as he always has.
"Hey," Katie greets back, tone a little awkward, as if there's somebody next to her. "Um, can you pick me up? No rush." There's a shuffle, almost as if she's trying to cover the phone with her hand, and then he hears her say to somebody else: "Oh, my brother's just coming to pick me up. No, no, it's okay! I just have an appointment really early in the morning."
Matt bites back a smile at the lie, the jealous part of his brain wondering if it's because she'd rather spend the night with him. He's already on his feet, searching for his car keys. "I'll be there in five minutes," he tells her, finally finding the keys and already on his way out the door. You are so whipped, he thinks, but he can't find it in himself to care. "Is everything going okay?"
"Yeah," she responds, a bit too hastily for his liking, "I'll fill you in on everything when you get here!"
Once she hangs up, he sends a quick message to the family group chat - grabbing Katie! Will get the punk to bed shortly :] - mainly so that on the off-chance that they wake up to the sound of him leaving, they don't think he's off smoking weed in some backyard somewhere. They wouldn't think that, not really, but his mom's always been a touch paranoid. The most important part of the Holt family is trust, Dad always says, and Matt always pretends that it doesn't make guilt creep up his chest at what goes on inside of the house walls that his parents don't know about.
Katie's waiting outside when he gets there, right outside of the driveway with his foot still on the brake. Her hands are clutched tight to her purse and his jacket is around her shoulders. (She always tells everybody that she'd stolen it from him, but she never clarifies that it had been because she had gotten hungry after time spent in his sheets and needed covering for the trip to the kitchen.) She smiles when she sees him, big and wide, and immediately starts walking towards him.
Or tries, anyway, because Matt just watches as she stumbles through her first step and then giggles through the rest of them. She doesn't fall, but her body looks like its about to, and he narrows his eyes as she gets into the passenger seat. "Hi," she says. "I'm glad that you rescued me. Someone vomited in the sink."
"Gross," he agrees, and without even really thinking about it, he leans forward to sniff her. "Are you drunk?"
"I don't think so," she says in response, and the genuine confusion in her voice is enough to tell Matt that she's telling the truth. "I only had one drink, and I don't feel different emotionally. I've just been stumbling a little." It's so very Katie to try to rationalize the different aspects of her sobriety.
He's never really drank much of anything besides Mom's wine, so it sits a bit weird in his stomach that Katie's been drinking, but at least she's honest. One drink's not that much, anyway, though she's small enough and young enough that it could certainly have an effect. "So tipsy at worst, then," he says, and he smiles at her to show that he's not upset or anything. He finally takes his foot off of the brake and drives off, creating distance between them and the sink-vomiting party-goers. "Make any friends?"
"Er... no, I don't think so," she replies, and Matt feels monstrous for how muscle-relaxing the sentence is, especially because he knows that a part of it is more than just not wanting her to be friends with bad influences. "One girl was nice enough, but she kept talking about how she was gonna convert me into a stoner. It was weird."
Matt hums, a bit too focused on driving through the night, when Katie interrupts the accidental silence. "Can we get french fries?" she asks, and he doesn't even have enough time to ask her what store she wants them from before she starts talking again. "I know it's out of the way, but I have money, and I'm hungry. If I eat at home, Mom will hear me rooting through the kitchen and wake up and ask why I didn't eat my-"
"Pidge," he cuts her off, knowing that she'll keep going until her ramble somehow ends with a tragedy of some sort. He'd rather be in bed than go to a drive-thru, but, well, he's never been very good at saying no to her. "That's fine. But get a large so that I can steal a few, okay?"
"Okay," she agrees, if not a bit sheepishly at being caught in a ramble. She, being herself, waits until they're almost at the turn to say, "we don't have to-"
Matt just rolls his eyes as he turns on his blinker.
The drive-thru is out of order, so the two of them park the car instead. The parking lot's mostly empty, with just a few other cars scattered around. Katie takes one step out of the Jeep and falls, shrieking half-way down, but Matt catches her before she can hit the ground.
"Thanks, superhero," she tells him, a little breathy, and looks up at him. They're in a bit of a compromising position, his hands around her waist from where he had steadied her and hers planted on his chest. It's nice, holding her, so forgive him for taking a little longer than he probably should to let go.
He regains his senses when she leans in, so slightly that she probably hadn't even realized that she had done it. It's only been a handful of hours since their last kiss, a quick peck on the lips when Katie had been getting ready earlier, but he already aches to kiss her again. He knows that he can't, though, so he lets his hands drop awkwardly to his sides. "Woah," Matt says, quiet enough that he can barely hear his own voice. "We're in public, remember?"
She blinks at him a few times, comprehending, before her hands drop down too. "I forgot," she says with an awkward smile, and he understands without her elaborating at all. It's not that she had forgotten that they were in public, but that she had forgotten about the fact that they couldn't act like this around other people. All that he can do is return the smile and hope that it comes off as some sort of a promise for another time.
If anything, it serves as a reminder that she definitely has more alcohol in her system than she has probably even realized, so he beckons his head toward the fast-food joint and follows her inside. Making sure that she gets any sort of food in her body is probably a good idea.
Eating fries with her in one of the booths is like the date that they've never been allowed to have. She laughs real pretty and throws fries at him, and even though he tries, he can't catch them in his mouth. She tries, too, but then the sight of her with her mouth wide open distracts him enough that they just sit there and grin stupidly at each other.
When he brings Katie into her room, after what feels like both a long time and not slow enough at all, he barely has enough time to breathe before her hands are twisting into his shirt. She tugs him close to her until they're nose-to-nose, so near each other that it would take just the slightest movement to press his lips against hers. "Whatcha doin' there, Pidge?" he whispers, trying not to be too loud in fear of shattering the moment.
She smirks at him, bringing one hand from his shirt to his hair. "This," she says, voice firm as though nothing in the world could stop her, and she kisses him. Her lips are soft and even though she tastes like some interesting combination of alcohol (vodka? Hell if Matt knows) and salt, he could kiss her for the rest of his life, over and over. For a moment, he thinks that it's just going to be one of their casual good night kisses, calm and slow and sweet, but then her hand on his shirt starts tugging him towards the bed.
Matt pauses. Usually, he'd be up for anything, since when it comes to Katie, he's always pretty much ready to go, but ... he doesn't want to do anything when she's not completely sober. He's not sure how intoxicated she is, not sure how much of it gets lost in translation between her mind and her movements, but he'd really rather not take any chances. He brings a hand down to her side and pulls her away, gently enough that he doesn't startle her. "Katie," he murmurs in her ear, and hopes that she doesn't hear him swallow at the motion of her hand trailing down to his jeans instead. "This isn't a good idea."
As desperate as she had seemed just a moment before, to her credit, she's off of him in an instant. "Why not?" she asks with a pout, something visible through the dim lighting that he should not find nearly as cute as he does.
"Because," he says, and now that he's gotten the words out, he reaches to grab her hands again, knowing that she won't try to escalate the touches into something more. "You're drunk."
"I am not," she replies, hissing them in an attempt to keep her voice down. She's not actually upset, and he can tell that from the way that her eyebrows raise as though she's making a challenge. "You said it yourself, tipsy at worst! And that was an hour ago!"
"True," he agrees. "I would just feel better if we waited until morning anyway, though."
Katie makes a noise that Matt refuses to classify as a whine, if not just for the sake of his boxer shorts. "That's okay," she relents, not a fan of making Matt do things that make him uncomfortable, especially when it comes to this stuff, and pulls lightly on his hand. "Will you stay with me until I fall asleep?"
"Of course," he agrees, and lets her lead him over. When she crawls into her bed, he follows suit, though he stays over the covers for an easy escape route. He runs his fingers over her arms in a somewhat soothing gesture, hoping that it will lure her into sleep.
And when she finally does doze off, after what could be either five minutes or twenty, Matt brushes his lips over her forehead delicately, hoping that he doesn't wake her up after such a short time asleep. "Goodnight, Katie," he whispers to her, reaching over to push himself to his feet. He takes one more glance at her before he leaves, of her curled up into a ball underneath her comforter, and the sheer love that resonates within him makes his cheeks burn.
"I'll see you in the morning."
(Hopefully very, very early.)