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Honey, You're Familiar (Like my Mirror)

Chapter Text

Jupiter Coffee was overpriced, busy, and only open when the baristas decided they wanted to deal with people.

It was also the only coffee shop within walking distance of the hospital. Naturally, Judy was addicted. It was a tragic circumstance.

That was where she found herself on a Friday afternoon, hunched over a book and a steaming latte, trying to enjoy her first Friday afternoon off in what felt like months. This was the first time she had had a chance to properly sit down and enjoy her coffee, instead of ducking in and out on her break. Houndmouth was playing softly over the speakers, singing about loneliness and waltzing in the rain. The afternoon rush had cleared out, and the loud babble of customers had lowered to a gentle murmur. It was nice, and Judy felt the tension she always carried with her begin to melt from her shoulders.

The idyll was shattered when the bell over the door chimed, and two people walked in. The first person in was a man, with tousled black hair and an eye-searing orange jacket. He was talking, loudly, and gesticulating wildly to the woman behind him, who was wearing a similar outfit, though her jacket was darker, with the sleeves shoved up surprisingly muscled forearms.

The guy turned from his friend to the baristas, greeting them at the same high volume.

 Judy glared at his back as the baristas greeted him with a perplexing mix of exasperation and fondness, which led her to suspect this man and his loud voice were regulars. He didn’t seem to mind the fact that he was disturbing the other customers as he leaned against the counter and made conversation with the employees. He had a sweep of dark stubble across his jaw, and even with the jacket, he was objectively attractive. Judy elected to ignore this in favor of glaring at him some more.

Vijay, Judy’s favorite barista, caught Judy’s eye from across the store, and tried to conceal a grin at her expression. He sent her a shrug as if to say “what can you do?”

 Judy frowned and turned back to her book, and tried in vain to focus on the words on the page. Penny had lent it to her the last time Judy had come home, and Judy was trying to finish it before Penny came down to visit next weekend. It was a murder mystery, and really quite interesting, but she couldn’t focus when all she could hear was, “Yeah, me and Tam walked in to a full face of Porsche today. Can you believe it? A Porsche in our freaking shop!”

“Don, you brought your outside voice in again.” An unfamiliar, female voice said. Against her better judgement, Judy peeked over her shoulder at them, and saw the woman in the jacket rolling her eyes at the loud guy, even as she smiled.

 The guy chuckled and reached back to rub the back of his neck. “A Porsche is worth yelling about, Tam. But, uh, sorry coffee people.” His gaze swept over the rest of the coffee shop, and caught on Judy, the only person who was actually looking at him.

As their eyes met, Judy felt a jolt of something shoot down her spine, and she forced herself to turn back to her book. The words in front of her meant nothing, though, as her skin tingled from that one look.

A minute later, the bell chimed again, and the pair left in a far quieter manner than which they entered. Judy lifted her eyes to watch the two people walk down the sidewalk. Jacket Guy was back to waving his free hand around wildly, while the woman was ignoring him in favor of doing something on her phone. They didn’t see her staring through the glass.

Chapter Text

 Judy didn’t see Jacket Guy for almost a week. Not that she was looking for him. He had been loud and disruptive, and thankfully didn’t appear during her five-minute stops in the shop over the next few days. Were his dark eyes incredibly intriguing? Maybe, but Judy wrote off her fascination with him as proof that it had been some time since she had seen anyone that was wearing something other than scrubs paired with deep purple bags under their eyes.

It was Thursday evening when she sat down in the shop again, dead on her feet after assisting in surgery that lasted so long, the sun had set before she was finished. She had hardly gotten any sleep the night before, and now had her hands wrapped around a cup of black coffee like it was the holy grail. She just needed to wake up enough to drive home. Her roommate Aiko had texted her, offering to pick her up, but Judy promised she was fine. A few minutes with a coffee, and she’d be as good as new.

The shop was nearly empty, and Judy knew they were nearing closing. Vijay was sweeping up, but waved Judy off when she offered to head out and leave him be. She could finish her coffee in her car.

“I’m not gonna kick my favorite customer out. It’s not like you’re making that much of a mess.” He reassured her, leaning on his broom. “Plus, you look like you’re about to pass out. Long day?”

Judy gave him a grateful smile. “Long day, long surgery. Such is the life of a doctor.”

Vijay grinned. “Alright, Meredith Grey.”

“Excuse you, I’m definitely Christina Yang.”

The barista laughed. “Drink your coffee. I’ll walk you out when I lock up.”

“You’re the best.” Judy thanked him, and turned back to her drink. Her phone pinged with another notification from Aiko, and Judy blinked her dry eyes twice before beginning to type.

The bell on the door dinged, and Judy looked up in surprise as Jacket Guy walked in, all perky eyes and booming voice, like it was not eight pm and dark outside. He was still wearing that same jacket, even though it was far too cold for such a thin layer.

Judy looked away before he could look at her, but she was facing the counter this time, and it was impossible not to stare at his back as he strode up to the counter and greeted Vijay with that same familiarity he’d had last week.

“Don, it’s almost closing. Don’t be that guy.”

“Please?” Don pleaded. Judy could picture the face the guy was probably making- lip protruding slightly, his dark eyes comically wide as he begged the city’s best barista for one cup of overpriced coffee. 

Vijay lifted an eyebrow, clearly unimpressed. Don sighed, and pulled a couple of dollars out of his pocket and shoved them into one of the two tip jars. The baristas had ongoing weekly competitions in the form of various art pieces, which were then taped to the jars. This week was Vijay against Anna. Each of them had drawn a superhero (He chose Spider-Man, and she chose Poison Ivy), and the regulars took great pleasure in voting for their favorites. Judy had voted for Vijay’s out of loyalty, but had snuck a dollar into Anna’s jar when he wasn’t looking. She loved Poison Ivy.

Vijay smiled at Don. “Thank you for your contribution. The usual?” He asked, already turning to the espresso bar.

“Two. Ava’s making me stay late. If I butter her up with caffeine, she may let me go before midnight.”

Vijay whistled low, but said little else as he got the drinks started, and quickly rang up the order. “Do me a favor and flip the sign to closed, will you?”

Don saluted the kid, and sauntered across the shop to the glass door with the long, lazy strides of someone with nowhere to be. Judy’s eyes tracked him across the shop.

He flipped the sign, and turned around, casually scanning across the room until he caught on Judy. This time, she didn’t look away, even as that unnamed feeling zinged through her again. Aiko’s text sat unanswered in her palm.

After what felt like an eternity, he said to her, “You know the shop’s closed, right?” Even though there were only three of them in the room.

Judy huffed out a sigh and rolled her eyes. “Squatter’s rights.”

Don walked over to her table, but didn’t sit down. “Is that how it works?” A faint smile played at the corners of his lips. The shop’s lights were low, and his face was half in shadow, mostly illuminated by the shine of the streetlights coming in through the glass windows.

She really didn’t have the energy to converse with someone so… awake, but societal conventions (and her mother’s voice in her head) told her that she should at least be polite. “It is when you’re on the good side of the closing barista.”

Don hummed, twisting to look over his shoulder at where Vijay was still working. “I could use some of that sway.”

“Sorry, I only save that for my favorites.” Vijay called.

“Am I not a favorite?”

“Not after you chose Angela’s origami over mine. Come get your coffee.” The kid plunked two to-go cups down on the counter.

 “It was one time. She made a bunny!” Don protested, collecting his drinks.

“It was betrayal.”

Judy hid her laugh behind her cup. Don cut his eyes towards her, and his frown transformed into an almost smile, and he didn’t argue any further.

Vijay hung his apron on the hook. “Alright, everyone out of my shop. I have to open tomorrow and I’d actually like to get some sleep before that happens.” Judy gathered her things, and thanked him for letting her hang out. “Make it home safe. I’d hate to lose my favorite customer.”

Don made a face as they all stepped outside. “That’s not me?”

The sound of jingling keys signaled that Vijay had locked the doors. “Nope. Traitors don’t get to be favorites.”

Don scoffed and started walking backwards down the sidewalk. “See if I come here again.”

“You will.” Vijay called back, no real concern in his voice. “See you around.”

“G’night Vijay. Squatter.”

Judy rolled her eyes at the name, but smiled all the same. She made it home, and crashed face first on her bed. She didn’t even bother to take off her shoes.

Chapter Text

Penny came to visit over the weekend, and Judy pulled her sister into a long hug the moment the redhead got out of her car. Her sister made the drive up at least once a month, and if Penny couldn’t make it, Judy would come to her, where the whole family was. The three-plus hour drive was long, but Judy looked forward to any time she could spend with her family.

That weekend, Penny came bearing the sequel to the book she had loaned Judy, and successfully bullied Judy into making their grandmother’s famous cookies. Penny caught her up on all of the gossip from back home, anything that hadn’t already been shared in the family group chat. Will’s robotics team was going to regional competitions, and it seemed like they had a really good shot at winning. John and Maureen were embroiled in a very fierce Monopoly game that had lasted at least a week and was still ongoing. They hadn’t broken any furniture (yet), but John had definitely spent one night on the couch, staring at the board to make sure his wife wouldn’t cheat overnight. Judy laughed at the story, missing her family keenly in that moment. They had always been a close-knit family, but when Judy had a chance to work at one of the most prestigious hospitals in the country, she had leapt at the chance. The drive wasn’t too bad, but when she was missing out on moments like that, she felt every single mile between them.

They had a fairly lazy weekend, but after the week she’d had, Judy needed it. On Sunday afternoon, they stopped in at Jupiter Coffee before Penny was set to drive home. Judy’s head hurt from the crown braid Penny had insisted on putting in her hair. Penny told her to stop pulling at it.

The shop wasn’t too busy that day. There was the usual smattering of young people in jean jackets writing the Next Great American Novel on their laptops, mixed with the crowd of friends hanging out, and even two people in a corner who seemed to be on a very awkward first date.

“Do you ever stop working?” Judy asked as she walked up Vijay at the register.

He grinned. “Nope. I had to cover for Angela today.” He caught sight of Penny standing next to her, and his smile flickered a bit before getting a little brighter. “And this is…?”

“I’m Penny.” Penny’s cheeks flamed as red as her hair, and Judy had to bite back a smile.

“My sister.” Judy jumped in.

The barista tilted his head. “Sister?”

They heaved identical sighs, despite being used to the question. They had seen many people's eyes jump from Penny's pale skin and red hair to Judy's dark skin and curly brown hair, usually too polite to ask. “Half-sister.” They said in matching monotonous voices.

Vijay’s smile returned at their reactions. “Cool! I’m Vijay. But, uh, you can probably tell that.” He tapped on his name tag. Penny let out a breathy half laugh. “So, uh,” His eyes kept flicking towards Penny, who in turn was trying to look anywhere but his face, and failing miserably. “What can I get you?”

“I’ll have a mocha.”

“Got it. And… Penny?”

Penny was still blushing and looking at the counter with an expression of extreme interest.

“Penny?” Judy nudged her sister gently. Penny jumped.

“Oh! Right. Um. Yeah. Iced vanilla coffee with room?” She managed.

“Absolutely.” Vijay then proceeded to knock the small tower of cups next to him to the floor, creating an impressive mess of rolling, shiny plastic. “Oops.”

Penny giggled. Judy wasn’t sure if she wanted to vomit or find this show of awkwardness endearing. They paid, and went to sit down at a free table.

“That was disgusting.” Judy said as soon as they sat.

“What was?”

Judy nodded towards the counter. “Whatever that was.”

Penny sipped her drink. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She said primly.

Before Judy could reply, the bell chimed, and Don walked in, with the woman he’d been with the first time Judy had seen him. As usual, they were deep in conversation, and his voice carried, even over the din of clacking keyboards and beeping coffee machines.

Penny looked over at him and raised an eyebrow. “That has got to be the ugliest jacket I have ever seen on a person.”

Judy was inclined to agree, and that was when Don caught her eye, and a small smile crossed his face. He said something to his friend, who nodded, eyes still trained on her phone.

“Why is he coming over here?” Penny hissed to her sister. Judy kicked her sister's leg under the table, and raised an eyebrow as he approached them.

“I see the squatter has returned.” His tone was playful, unperturbed by the look on her face.

“Miss me?” She asked, an unfamiliar twist to her voice. It wasn’t flirtatious, but it wasn’t quite cold either.

He shoved his hand in his pockets. “Not really. With you gone, I can focus on becoming Vijay’s favorite customer.”

Penny tilted her head as he mentioned Vijay, and gave her sister a questioning look. Judy ignored it.

“You know that will never happen.”

Don shrugged, that infuriating grin still on his face. “Never say never.” A voice called his name, and the three of them looked over at the woman he had come in with waving him over. “That’s my cue.” His gaze lingered on her braid, and he smirked. “Nice hair. See ya, princess.” He nodded at the pair, and returned to the line.

Judy shook her head, and returned her gaze to Penny, who was looking at her with two raised eyebrows. “What?”

“That was disgusting.”

“Alright, time to roll.” Judy stood, and Penny grinned, seeing she had struck a nerve.

“Sure you don’t want to say goodbye to your friend?” Her sister teased, as Judy manhandled the redhead out of the store.

“Not even a little.” Judy said. Penny didn’t see Judy looking over her shoulder as she said this, accidentally making eye contact with Don as she did. Penny didn’t see the amused smile crossing the man’s face, or the way he nodded at her as they left. Penny definitely didn’t see the small quirk of her sister’s lips in return.

Chapter Text

The next time she was at Jupiter Coffee, she was there with her coworker. Brandon Smith had not been subtle in his attempts to ask her out, but Judy had been even less subtle in her rejection of his advances. Today, however, she agreed to get coffee with him, if only to get him to realize she wasn’t at all interested.

He was talking at her about this book he had read on World War II, and she was wondering if she could get Vijay to slip a tranquilizer into one of their drinks- and she wasn’t picky about which. Brandon was practically talking her to sleep already.

The bell jingled merrily, signaling their entrance, and Brandon’s seemingly endless stream of consciousness shifted gears as he started telling her what she should order.

“Have you ever actually come here?” Judy interrupted, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice.

“No,” Brandon said. “But all coffee shops in America are the same. If you really want good coffee, try this shop I went to when I studied abroad…” and he was off again. Judy zoned out, and frowned when she saw Vijay wasn’t working that day.

She left Brandon and his babble behind and approached Angela, who was working the register.

“Hey, Judy.” Angela greeted her with a warm smile. They had met a couple of years ago in the ER, when Angela had been hit by a car, and Judy was assigned to her care. Whenever Angela was working, she insisted Judy not pay. (“The only reason I’m still kicking is you.”) The woman’s hair was tied in tight braids, with gold jewelry glinting from a few locs. Judy made a mental note to ask where the woman got her hair done. She needed a new salon with someone who knew how to properly cut her hair. “What can I get you today?”

“Depends,” Judy hummed, reflecting the woman’s warm smile. “Are you going to let me pay?”

Angela grinned. “Not on your life.”

 With a laugh, Judy waved her hand. “Then surprise me.”

“With pleasure.”

Judy stepped away and allowed Brandon and his motor mouth to order. She found an open table and sat down. The sun streamed in through the wide windows, and Judy let the warmth wash over her body. She was bone-tired, and she still had the rest of her shift to finish. This was admittedly not the wisest way to spend her half-hour break, but at the moment, there was nothing she wanted more than a cup of coffee that tasted like a hug, soft indie music, and Jupiter’s Coffee’s oddly calming atmosphere. Even if it was on the world’s more awkward date.

There was a man sitting a few tables away, bent over a tablet and typing with an intensity that made her wince. Judy realized it was Don. Instead of his jacket, he was wearing a grey Henley, and he looked tired. There were no less than three coffee cups sitting in front of him.

Brandon sat down across from her, blocking the sun, and Judy immediately felt colder. “Do you come here often?” He asked, sounding almost curious for the first time possibly ever.

Judy blinked, stunned he had taken a moment to ask her a question. “Oh, yeah. I know they’re overpriced, but one of the owners, Angela,” Judy jerked her thumb back to the register. “Got hit by a car a few years back, and I was her doctor. She was just about to open this place with her husband. We’ve been friendly ever since, and now I get…” Brandon’s attention had begun to drift, as his eyes slid from her face to around the shop. “Free coffee for life.” Judy mumbled lamely, kicking herself for thinking he could pay attention to anything that wasn’t the sound of his own voice. Thank god he didn’t work in peds. She glanced over at Don’s table, and was surprised to see him watching her. Their eyes met, and he held her gaze for a moment before turning back to his tablet, typing a little less furiously.

“That’s cool.” Brandon replied in a voice that suggested he hadn’t really taken in a word she had said. “I usually bring my coffee from home. I have this French press, can’t stand that Keurig shit.” Judy felt her dislike for the man grow. She and Aiko practically prayed at the altar of their Keurig. “Nothing beats the taste of real coffee beans, you know?”

“Uh huh.” Judy felt her eyeballs rolling back into her head, and that was when Angela called her name. Judy nearly knocked her chair over in her haste to escape the conversation for even a moment. Angela grinned and passed the young doctor the cup, where she had drawn a little cartoon bunny. Judy accepted it with a grateful smile and took a sip. Hazelnut and chocolate filled her senses, and she cast an accusatory look at the woman. “Did you give me one of the kids’ drinks?”

Angela smiled, unapologetic. “I put a few espresso shots in for you. Now, him,” Angela nodded towards where Don was sitting. “Thinks he’s drinking the same thing, but there is zero caffeine in it. I think he’s exceeded the legal limits of consumption.”

Judy frowned. “Any idea why?”

The woman shrugged. “Beats me. He’s in almost as much as you, but all I know about him is that he’s a mechanic. Maybe romantic troubles.”

Judy continued frowning, her stomach turning. She had no clue why the idea that this man, this near-stranger, had a significant other bothered her so much. She decided to brush it off as concern for his well-being if this was what his relationship was doing to him.

“Speaking of romance…” Angela leaned her elbows on the counter. “Who’s that guy? Another doctor?” Her voice had a teasing lilt to it, and Judy rolled her eyes.

“An annoying doctor.” Judy said, quiet enough so Brandon wouldn’t hear her. “He keeps asking me out, and apparently never learned what the words “No thanks, not now, and not ever” mean. I finally agreed to get coffee today to prove how awful we would be together.”

“And how is that going for you?”

Judy sighed. “Not great. I’ve said all of about ten words this entire time.”

Angela let out a breathy laugh. “Yikes. Best wishes for you.”

“Thanks. My roommate already promised to fake an emergency if things go too bad, so I’m covered on that front.”

Judy was rewarded with another laugh and a pat on the shoulder. “You can do this! Also, I’m definitely telling Vijay about this.”

Judy was already walking away. “I’d despair if you didn’t.”

Brandon’s name was being called as Judy sat back down, and she took the brief reprieve to look at Don. He was frowning down at his drink, and Judy had to stifle a laugh. Clearly, he could tell that his steamed drink had no espresso in it.

He chose that moment to look up again, to look right at her, and Judy tried to wrestle the grin off her face, she really did. But she couldn’t help it, and that was when Don pushed back his chair and ambled over to her table.

“Doctor.”

“Mechanic.”

He frowned. “How do you know I’m a mechanic?”

Judy nodded in the direction of the counter. “The baristas know everything.” She was going to ask how he knew she was a doctor, but her scrubs weren’t exactly inconspicuous.

That got Don to grin again. “Ah. That they do.” His eyes flitted up to where Brandon was at the counter, having dragged one of the baristas into conversation. “Am I interrupting a date?” He asked, eyes comically wide, and his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Judy glared at him. “You are the loudest man I have ever met.” She hissed. “And it’s not so much of a date as a coffee to convince this man that he and I would be a terrible match. Or, I would, if I could get a word in edgewise.”

Don’s grin turned into a smirk as he leaned his hip against the table next to hers. “I noticed he seemed very chatty.”

It was Judy’s turn to tilt her head. “Spying on me?”

There was a tiny waver in his smug façade, but he recovered it quickly. Still, Judy was proud to see she’d gotten one up on him. “Hard not to. He’s pretty loud.”

Judy snorted. Actually snorted. “That’s pretty rich coming from you.”

“What? Why?” The look of genuine surprise was on his face, which just made Judy laugh harder. He really didn’t know.

She cleared her throat, and then dropped her voice in her best impression of Don. “A Porsche in our shop! A face full of Porsche!”

Don, to his credit, flushed. “I do remember that day.” As if by command, he had dropped his voice to something softer than his usual tone as he looked at her. Judy felt the back of her neck heat up.

“Hey, Jude.” Brandon was back at their table. “Who’s this?” He was eyeing Don with a suspicion that set Judy’s teeth on edge.

“Don West,” Don saved Judy from introducing him- which was just as well as she realized she didn’t know his last name. “I’m no one, I just keep running into the good doctor over here.”

“You’re not no one, Don.” Judy responded, almost too quickly. She hesitated as both men raised their eyebrows at her. “You’re my competition for Vijay’s favorite customer, remember?”

Don’s smile was not smug this time, but rather genuine and pleased. “That’s true.”

She looked up at Brandon, innocent smile on her face. “You remember I was telling you about that?” Judy had said no such thing, but Brandon was so self-absorbed, she knew he couldn’t remember a single thing she’d said after agreeing to get coffee in the first place.

“Right. Well,” Brandon cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable. He had gone far too long without hearing the sound of his own voice. “That’s nice. Judy, we should be getting back.”

It really was a testament to her self control that Judy didn’t roll her eyes at that. They still had another fifteen minutes before they were needed back. “Yeah, okay.” When Brandon turned his back she mouthed “Help me.” Don laughed and smothered it with a cough. Brandon turned back around to face them.

Judy sent him an expectant look. Don cleared his throat and stood up. “Bye, doc. We on for next week?”

Brandon sent her a questioning look, and Judy leapt on the opening he left her. “Can’t wait!” She replied, chipper, and planted a kiss on his cheek. Don, to his credit, just smiled and patted her shoulder before he walked back to his table.

Judy breezed past a slack-jawed Brandon and headed towards the door. “Come on, Doctor Smith! We’ll be late.” She turned around and didn’t miss the raised eyebrow Angela sent her. Judy grinned, knowing every detail of that interaction was going to be repeated at length to the rest of the staff. Judy couldn’t find it in herself to care, especially when Don sent her a wink through the window as she walked next to Brandon who, for once, was at a loss for words.

Chapter Text

“Are you going out?” Aiko asked, sticking her head into their shared bathroom.

Surprised by her roommate’s sudden appearance, Judy nearly stuck her eye with the mascara wand. “What?” She asked, before setting the mascara a safe distance away, blinking rapidly.

Aiko raised a perfect eyebrow and gestured to the evidence on the counter. “Mascara. Your hair is down. And is that lip gloss?” She squinted at the bottle, but Judy bodily moved herself and her roommate out of the room.

“It’s nothing, and I’m just getting coffee.”

Her roommate grinned. “Oh. Gotcha.”

Judy narrowed her eyes at the grin. “What do you mean ‘Gotcha’?”

Aiko shrugged, and made her way to the kitchen. “You’re going to see your coffee boyfriend. Jacket guy, right?”

Judy just gaped at her, mind racing. Sure, she had mentioned Don once or twice, but she also talked about the baristas. He was just one of the many characters she had met at Jupiter Coffee. Right? “Of all of the ridiculous things-- I have never-- I mean who even-“

Aiko jumped up to sit on the counter and bit into an Oreo with the air of someone who was very, very pleased with the way this conversation was going. “Don’t even try, Penny texted me about it two weeks ago.”

“You have my sister’s number?”

“That’s what you took away from this conversation?”

Judy turned away from her roommate and grabbed her bag. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said, remembering a moment too late that was her sister’s usual defense. Before Judy left, she reached over and plucked an Oreo right out of an unsuspecting Aiko’s hand. “Thanks!” She said sweetly before running out of the apartment like the coward she was.

The afternoon sun hung just above the tips of the trees, turning the sky into a vibrant canvas. It was as though someone had spilled red, orange, and gold watercolors across the sky. The fall air was crisp on her skin, and Judy drank it in as she walked. It was finally fall. She loved fall.

She didn’t expect him to be there. Judy knew Don was had just been saving her from having to spend another minute around Brandon, who had blessedly decided that she was no longer worth pursuing. The pediatrics wing was suddenly a whole lot quieter without him hanging around, and Judy was not the only person who was grateful for the reprieve.

Still. As Judy pushed open the door, she was mentally fighting down her hopes- yes, hopes, because she was finally willing to admit that Don West was an intriguing man, and she wanted to see more of him.

Even with all of that mental preparation, she couldn’t fight the smile that spread across her face when she saw Don sitting at a table by the window. He caught her eye instantly, and returned her grin. She made her way to the table first, and set down her bag. It was a busy day at the shop, and the line for coffee was long. For the first time in what felt like ages, she showed up in jeans and a blue sweater instead of scrubs. Butterflies took flight in her stomach as she sat down across from him.

“Doc.” He greeted her with a friendly nod. She then realized he had two cups sitting on the table in front of him. He pushed one towards her. “Vijay said this was your favorite. Some mocha… caramel… thing?” There was a playful, teasing note in his voice.

Judy found herself taken aback. She had hardly expected Don to show up for their fake… meetup? Date? Whatever it was. The fact that he got her coffee stoked that warmth that had been growing in her chest since the week prior.

She accepted the cup with a word of thanks, and took a sip of sugary drink. “Vijay makes the best caramel mochas in town. One sip and you’re hooked.”

Don leaned back in his chair, still smirking. “I’ll have to take your word for it.”

“Not a fancy coffee person?” Judy asked. “Because I have it on good authority that you were guzzling those steamed milk drinks last week.”

“There were shots of espresso in those!” He defended, sitting up again.

Judy laughed. “It doesn’t change the fact that you were ordering from the kids’ menu.”

Don rolled his eyes, but his good humor hadn’t faded. He gestured to his own coffee. “This isn’t on the kids’ menu. Try it.”

Judy pursed her lips at the proffered cup, before shrugging and taking an experimental sip, which she realized was a mistake a split second later. She coughed, and gagged, and caused at least half of the shop to stare at her while she tried to breathe. Don just laughed at her.

“What is in that? Battery acid?” She wheezed once she had enough breath in her lungs.

Don took a long swig and grinned. “Close, and I actually know what battery acid tastes like.”

“Do I want to know why?”

They traded barbs and teased each other, and before Judy knew it, they had been there for an hour, and her coffee cup was empty. It was four in the afternoon, and most of the other patrons had cleared out. They practically had the whole shop to themselves.

“So,” Don drawled, his restless fingers tracing patterns on the shiny wood of the table. “Are you from around here?”

“Nope. I come from a tiny town about three hours south of here, but when I got a chance to work at this hospital, I leapt at it. I mean, it’s supposed to be one of the best in the country.” Her smile turned a little sad at the edges. “I miss my family, though. We were all really close before I left. How about you?”

Don gave a one-shouldered shrug, and looked out the window to the passerby on the street. “I moved around a lot as a kid, and kinda kept up the trend when I graduated.” His voice was guarded, and slow, unlike the rapidfire he had given her before. Judy leaned forward, propping up her chin in her hand. “My car broke down outside of the city about ten years ago, and the local mechanic, Ava, towed me to her shop. I helped her out on her other cars, and before I knew it, I was hired. Never thought I would be happy in a city like this, but it’s grown on me.” He turned back to her, and the smile was back on his face, though it looked a little more forced than before. “Hey, have you voted on this week’s art?”

Judy blinked, taking a moment to adjust to the sudden subject change. There was definitely more to his story, but she wasn’t about to push him. “Uh, no. Whose art is it this week?”

“Angela against Vijay.”

Judy groaned and titled her head back as Don laughed. “That’s evil. I can’t pick between the two of them. Besides, he never wins against her.”

Don was already standing up. “He’s determined. I like it.”

Judy followed him to the counter. No one was waiting in line, and Vijay eyed the pair as they approached the two jars.

Vijay had gone all out this week. He had drawn Snoopy and Woodstock sitting outside Jupiter Coffee, drinking miniature cups of coffee. Angela had made a large origami coffee cup, and filled it with pennies.

Don clicked his tongue. “Tough vote this week, eh doc?” He winked at her. Judy knew he was intentionally riling Vijay up, and she suppressed a grin of her own as the barista leaned back indignantly.

“I think they both have their own merits.” She replied diplomatically. Vijay would never allow her to tip both of them, but Angela would be offended if she didn’t. The owner was not above going through security camera footage to see who the regulars voted for.

Don groaned. “You’re too good for us, Judy.”

Judy allowed her eyebrow to quirk up at him. He had never used her first name before. His attention was already taken by Vijay who was glowering a him. “It’s Snoopy. Snoopy! Do you know how long it took me to draw the logo like that? And the shading? All Angela had to do was Google giant origami! Mine took time! Precision! Talent!” This had clearly been an argument he had had many times that day, and both Judy and Don exchanged amused looks before nodding.

“Well, I’m still mad at Angela over the espresso thing last week, so here you go.” He slid a dollar into Vijay’s jar. “Have I won the ‘favorite’ contest yet?”

Vijay’s piercing stare slid from Don to Judy. “Depends on what she picks.”

Judy bit her lip, feeling the heat of both men’s stares on her. She reluctantly slipped a dollar into Vijay’s jar, knowing Angela would complain to her about it next week.

Vijay let out a whoop. “Free chai’s for both of you!” He danced- really danced- to the back of the house to dig the chai mix out of the cabinets. Don and Judy looked at each other, shrugged, and watched their favorite barista whirl around before he plunked two steaming cups in front of them. “Thank you for your loyalty.” He said with a smile. “But please get out of here before we close.”

Judy looked down at her watch and noticed with surprise that it was fifteen minutes before closing. Don turned to head back to their table, but Vijay beckoned Judy over before she could do the same.

“Date?” He asked, quiet enough that Don couldn’t hear them.

“No!” Judy said, far too quickly. Her friend raised an eyebrow. “I mean- it was kind of a joke. It’s not- I actually don’t need to defend myself.” She straightened up and walked back to the table, ignoring the sound of Vijay laughing behind her. Don shot her a curious look, but she shook her head and picked up her bag. They waved goodbye to him as they walked out onto the street.

They lingered on the sidewalk, and Judy found herself reluctant to say goodbye. Don stuck the hand not clutching his cup into his pocket and rocked back and forth on his heels. “Same time next week?” He asked, a hopeful smile playing on his lips.

Judy frowned. “I have a shift then. Next Saturday? Three?”

He grinned at her, all smile lines and twinkling eyes. “It’s a date, Doc.”

“Is it?” She asked, and then turned and walked away before he could respond.

Yeah, she was a coward.

Chapter Text

It was the strangest friendship Judy had ever had. She never saw Don outside of the coffee shop, but once a week, when her schedule permitted, he would be sitting there at their table, usually with a coffee waiting for her. The coffee changed weekly, as Judy confessed her goal to work her way through the whole menu.

Once, she arrived before Don, and walked up to order. Angela refused to speak to her until she put a dollar into the art jar. It wasn’t art done by any baristas Judy knew, but Angela was serious about the tip jars. Once Judy had voted for a photo of a goose, the owner smiled sweetly. “What can I get you?”

Judy stuck her tongue out at her friend. “One cappuccino and one cup of battery acid, please.”

Angela’s eyes slid over to the table by the window that had unofficially been dubbed Don and Judy’s table. “Your boyfriend not here yet?”

Judy rolled her eyes. Aiko was just as bad, teasing Judy every time she left the apartment on her day off, even when she and Judy went to the grocery store, wondering loudly if her mysterious mechanic would show up in the pasta aisle. “You’re funny. He’s not my boyfriend.”

Angela hummed noncommittally before walking off to prepare the orders. Vijay came out from the back room and grinned at Judy. Judy managed a small smile before she went to stake her claim at the table. She had no proof, but she was almost certain that the baristas beat people away with a broom when they tried to sit at Don and Judy’s table. The shop (and the baristas’ attitudes) were established and grumpy enough that they could pull it off without losing their regular customers.

Judy settled into her chair and messed with her phone until Don arrived. He grinned with pleasure to see that she’d ordered his favorite. He sipped with relish and sighed. “Ah, best coffee in town. And best company, too.”

Judy’s skin was dark enough that he didn’t see her flush, but she had to avert her eyes when she grinned.

It may have come as a surprise to some, but Don and Judy were not Jupiter Coffee’s only customers. Judy was made aware of this on a rainy afternoon when she ducked into the shop on her lunch break. She’d had a shitty day, the kind only Vijay’s coffee and one of Angela’s sandwiches could cure. Her friend elbowed Anna away from the register when he saw the look on Judy’s face and started punching in her order before she even said anything.

“I’m getting predictable, aren’t I?” She sighed, handing him a ten.

Vijay shrugged, handing her back her change. “More like dependable. Rough day?”

Judy nodded, feeling the ache of exhaustion pull her shoulders down. “Bad. But,” She cast a surreptitious look at the long line behind her. “You have the lunch rush to deal with. Good luck, bud.”

The barista gave her a half smile and little salute before handing the register back to an annoyed-looking Anna. Judy turned away so she wouldn’t have to deal with the girl’s glare.

A familiar-looking orange jacket caught her eye, and Judy’s lips began to turn up with pleasure, before realizing that the wearer couldn’t possibly be Don. This person was shorter, with light skin and choppy brown hair. She looked familiar, though.

The woman in the jacket turned and saw Judy staring, and raised her eyebrows back, though a knowing smile played on her lips. The woman sauntered- yes, sauntered- over and leaned one elbow on the high counter, taking in Judy’s scrubs and sensible shoes. Judy stared right back, more baffled than anything.

Finally, the woman spoke. “Judy, right?”

“Yes?” Judy blinked. “Not to be rude, but, um. Who are you?”

The woman laughed lightly. “Right, sorry. I’m Tam. I work with Don at the repair shop.” She held out a hand to shake, and Judy accepted, still a little dazed.

“Right, Tam. He’s mentioned you a lot.” She said.

“Well, I certainly have heard quite a bit about you.” Tam gave her another one of those appraising looks, and Judy’s cheeks filled with heat.

 Then something clicked in her brain. “You were here with him a couple months ago, right? When he was yelling about a Porsche.”

Tam laughed again, a little louder. “Oh yeah, and you were the one glaring daggers at him.”

“I was not-“ Judy began to defend herself, and then thought back to that day. “Okay, maybe a little bit. But he was really loud.”

Tam nodded sagely. “His outside voice.”

The two women were silent for a moment, taking in the quiet of the shop before bursting into laughter, and earning some glares themselves.

A barista handed Tam a carrying carton full of drinks, and she accepted it with thanks. “Hey, I know you and Don have this cute little face-to-face thing going, and I’d hate to mess up what seems to be an adorable friendship, but just in case you need to get in touch,” Tam fished around in her pockets, before withdrawing a card and stub of a pencil. She began scribbling on the back of it, still speaking. “My number’s on this card, and I put Don’s on the back. Just in case.”

With a wink and a blur of orange, Tam was gone, and Judy was left standing alone, clutching a business card for Resolute Auto Repairs, with two new phone numbers. She looked at the line of numbers scrawled on the back in pencil, before tucking the card in her pocket.

It had occurred to her that it was strange that she and Don had never exchanged numbers, but she had kind of enjoyed the strangeness. Each week, they were bursting with new stories to tell each other, and had managed to shut the place down on more than one occasion, until one of the baristas more or less kicked them out at closing. But now…

Judy shook her head, and accepted her own lunch with a smile and a quiet “Thanks.” She was going to see Don later this week, and she’d ask him about phone numbers then. The idea made her stomach flip, though whether it was with excitement or nerves, she couldn’t be sure.

Chapter Text

Fuck. Judy cursed silently as she managed to pull off to the side of the road. It was a gray, rainy day, and of course, that was the day she had to get a flat tire. Absently, she thought of the tub of ice cream waiting in her back seat, probably already melting into a sugary soup. So much for her prize for surviving the week.

She grimaced at the driving rain, and then pulled the hood of her raincoat over her head and stepped out, circling her car to pull out the tire jack and spare. One of the many skills John Robinson had taught all of his kids was how to change a tire. Judy had changed her first tire before she learned how to ride a bike. She was self-sufficient, and proud of it.

Except this time, the lug nuts were not so kind. She got the first few off easily enough, but the fourth wouldn’t budge. Judy pressed all of her weight down on it, and ended up with angry red indents on her palm, and she was somehow already soaked through, and freezing. In her anger, she tried stomping on the wrench, which just sent it spinning and slammed into her shin. She cried out at the unexpected pain, and leaned against the car, fighting back tears. The already dim sky was darkening out, and she was realizing she would have to swallow her pride and call a tow truck. Her dad would never let her live it down.

All things said, it was not a good day. Don would probably laugh at her if he could see her, now, and would love telling her everything she was doing wrong. To bad she didn’t…

Judy sat up, the realization hitting her right as thunder boomed across the sky. She cast a glance at her sky before letting her car back down, gathering up her tools and spare and shoving them all unceremoniously back into her car.

She turned the heater on blast, and waited until she was no longer shivering to reach into her bag and pull out her phone and Tam’s card. After a moment’s hesitation, Judy flipped the card over and punched in the number written in pencil on the back, and shoved the phone against her ear, heart hammering.

It rang once. Twice. After the third ring, Judy was certain he wouldn’t pick up. After all, who picks up a call from an unknown number?

Don West, apparently. “Hello?” His familiar voice was ridiculously soothing to hear. There was the sound of machines running in the background, and she realized she probably interrupted him at work. Which, usually she’d feel guilty about. However, today, it was rather convenient.

“Hey, Don? It’s Judy.”

“Judy?” She heard something clank, and then the sound of the machine became muffled, as if he had walked into a different room. “Not that it’s not good to hear from you, but, uh, how did you get my number?”

Judy bit her lip, glad he wasn’t there to see her. “I ran into Tam at Jupiter. She gave me her card and wrote your number on the back, I guess in case I ever wanted to get in touch outside of the coffee shop.”

“And you called just to hear the sound of my voice? That’s sweet, doc.” Judy could hear the smile in his voice over the phone, and didn’t bother suppressing a laugh.

“Not exactly.” She sighed. “I have a flat tire, and trying to change it myself didn’t go anywhere.”

“Ah, so you’re using me for my car expertise.” He was still smiling, but she could hear him moving around.

“Using is such an ugly word.” She responded, cheeky. “I like to consider it appreciating my resources.”

Don snorted. “I feel appreciated. Where are you?”

Judy squinted at the street sign in front of her. “I’m near the corner of Forester and Samson Street.”

“Great, I’ll be there in five.”

“You’re a lifesaver, Don. Thank you.”

“I know.” And with that, he hung up. Judy let her head thud back against the headrest.

True to his word, five minutes, a black pickup truck pulled up behind her, and Don hopped out of it, sporting a green raincoat and carrying an umbrella and an industrial flashlight.

Judy got out to meet him, squinting in the rain. “Thanks again.”

He grinned at her, visible even in the low light. “I love helping damsels in distress. Got the spare?”

“I’m not a damsel, but I am in distress.” She assured him, pulling out the spare and the jack. “I got the first few off, but this one won’t move.”

Don got to work, and handed her the flashlight. He struggled with the same lug nut she had, but with brute force and a little cursing, managed to get it off. Judy held the flashlight and the umbrella, protecting them from the worst of the storm, though by the time he had the donut on her car, they were both soaked through.

“I’ll take this,” He tossed the ruined tire back into the back of his truck. “And you can follow me to the shop, and we’ll switch the donut out for a real tire.”

Judy frowned. “Are you even open? It’s pretty late.”

Don took the flashlight and umbrella, and led her back to her car. “Lucky for you, my boss doesn’t believe in keeping regular hours. Plus, even if we were closed, I’d make an exception for you.” His face was so sincere, and Judy looked away, already overwhelmed by his kindness.

“Thanks.” She said softly, barely audible over the sound of rain. “So, follow you?”

He nodded. “Follow me.” He opened her door for her, and she ducked in, waiting for him to walk away before she closed her eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. Something was happening between them, and she wasn’t sure if she was ready for... whatever it was. The wave of emotion she felt every time he looked at her already felt overwhelming.

The drive was blissfully short, though Judy cringed at every speed bump and pothole she had to navigate. The warm, yellow lights shining out of the garage were welcoming, and Don ushered her into the shop before getting in her car to turn it around and back it into one of the free bays.

The garage was small, but judging by the number of cars parked outside, it was also successful. Judy saw steps leading up to what looked like an office, and figured that would be the best place to stay out of the way.

The shop itself was fairly nice. It was warm inside, and the lights were bright, but more yellow than white. There were three bays, two of which were currently occupied with cars in various states of repair. There was some movement in the office overhead, but Judy couldn’t see who was in there. Three of the four walls were covered with tools, pictures of vintage cars, and certificates. Pressed against the back wall were no less than three very tall, very red rolling tool cabinets, and more than a few oil rags were strewn across the long, wooden table that was situated in a corner by the stairs.

Don pulled her car into the bay next to the stairs, and hopped out, grinning at her.

“So. How about some hot chocolate?” He asked her, poking his face through the railing.

Judy blinked, caught off guard. “What?”

“Hot. Chocolate. I know it’s not exactly Jupiter’s, but it’s gross, cold, and rainy outside. And since I can’t drink at work, and you need to drive home, hot chocolate is the best solution.”

Well. Judy couldn’t quite argue with that logic. That was how she found herself sitting on top of the rickety table with a towel wrapped around her shoulders, and a mug of steaming hot chocolate in her hands. (“There had better be marshmallows in this, West.” “As if I would offer you anything less.”) Don kept up a stream of easy chatter as he got to work on her car. Judy was able to forget the pain in her leg (and the tragedy of her melted ice cream) as he made her laugh with story after story of his misadventures- stories that usually ended with him and Tam getting in trouble with Ava.

“But the thing is, they had been dancing around each other for ages, right? And I, for one, was tired of being stuck around all of that unresolved sexual tension. So, like any good friend, I pulled the old ‘let’s hang out, just the three of us, oops, I’m sick, you two go ahead’, and boom! Relationship achieved, problem solved.” He stuck his head out from under her car to beam at her. “I’m a matchmaker.”

“So that’s how Tam and Ava got together?”

A laugh from above caused Judy to start, and twist to see where it came from. Tam had emerged from the office, and was jogging down the steps with a grin on her face. “I don’t think you’re allowed to say “boom” when we didn’t start dating until two months after. Without your help.” She added that last part with a smirk. Don grumbled something that was lost over the sound of the machines he was using.

“It took them forever to get together, even though everyone knew they had feelings for each other.” Don said, head still hidden. “I just gave them the little push they needed.”

Tam rolled her eyes, before she turned a warm smile on Judy. “It’s good to see you again.”

Judy found herself reflecting the woman’s expression. “Likewise. Thanks for that card. It was a real lifesaver.”

“And by ‘it’, you mean me, right?” Don asked, smiling his most boyish smile.

Judy just rolled her eyes, feeling a little more than fond. “Sure, Don.”

Tam laughed. “I feel like I should apologize, too. Now that he has your number, he’s probably gonna send you a near endless stream of memes.”

“You love my memes.”

“I absolutely do not.” Tam shot back, not missing a beat. Judy grinned, thrilled at seeing this side of his life. He and his co-worker bickered easily, and Judy finished her hot chocolate, relishing in the warmth that spread through her chest, chasing away the chill of the rain.

It was Judy’s turn to bicker with Don when it came to pay for her new tire.

“You can’t give me a friends and family discount. It’s a tire, and I’m a doctor. I can afford it.”

“Are you saying we’re not friends? You wound me, Doc.”

“I’m saying you have a shop to keep running.”

“And I’m saying you’re my friend.”

“Don’t make me get Tam involved.” Judy threatened.

Don narrowed his eyes. “You wouldn’t.”

“I so would.”

With no small amount of grumbling, Don accepted Judy’s card and applied the full price. She grinned, pleased at her small win.

It wasn’t until he walked her to her car that she turned around to say, “Thank you, Don. Really.”

When she looked up at his face, a small confluence of emotions assaulted her, and it was all she could do to not look away when he smiled at her and replied, “It was my pleasure.”

It took her a few moments to realize it was her turn to speak. “So, um, I’ll see you on Friday for coffee.”

He nodded. “Friday it is.”

Before she could think too much about it, she darted forward and gave him a quick, tight hug. “Thanks again.” She mumbled into his t-shirt. Then, without risking a look at his face, she got in her car, and backed out into the night, before speeding off to her apartment, heart hammering the whole way back.

Meanwhile, Don stood in the empty garage bay, staring after her with a dumbfounded expression, while Tam stifled a laugh from behind another car.

Chapter Text

The next day, Judy recounted her tale to a very irritated Aiko.

 “So you mean to tell me that your hot coffee shop boyfriend-”

“Not my boyfriend.”

“Rescued you in the rain-”

“I had a flat tire and he’s a mechanic.”

“And made you a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows while fixing your tire, and you didn’t kiss?!”

Judy rolled her eyes. “I don’t think assaulting my friend at his place of work is the best choice.”

Aiko reached for the tray of cookies, and Judy slapped her hand away. “Hey!”

“I literally just pulled these out of the oven. Can you not wait five minutes?”

“For your cookies, I would literally kill a man.”

Judy laughed and shook her head. “You have to stop saying that. Plausible deniability for if we ever do have to commit a murder.” She hopped up to sit on the counter, watching as Aiko busied herself with pouring the each of them a glass of wine.

“I’m a biologist and you’re a doctor. Between the two of us, we could clean up a crime scene no problem.”

“We do have access to a frightening amount of toxic chemicals.” Judy mused.

Aiko giggled and snuck her hand towards the pan. When Judy didn’t wave her away, she accepted a cookie and took a bite. “God, Jude.” She moaned around the food. “Definitely murder-worthy. You should bring some to your boyfriend.”

Judy rolled her eyes and took a sip of her wine. “If you stop calling him my boyfriend, maybe I will.”

“If he doesn’t immediately make out with you after trying one of these, he’s a lost cause.”

“Aiko!”

“I’m serious.”


Judy had trained hard for this race. It was a half marathon, and Don, Aiko, and her family were all coming to meet her at the finish line, after which they would go out for pizza. Tam and Angela weren’t able to make it to the race, but promised to be there for pizza. All of them. Together.

That chaos, she was prepared for. The chaos she wasn’t prepared for appeared in the form of four people on her doorstep the night before the race.

“I wasn’t supposed to see you guys til after the race!” Judy laughed as she was pulled into her mother’s arms.

“We came to wish you luck.” Her dad replied, pressing a kiss to the side of her head.

Usually, Judy hated surprises, but she had been missing her family a little more than usual. When she had been in high school and John had been on leave, they would train together, and he showed up to every single race until he had to go again. Even in college, he would surprise her by showing up to the most important ones- even if it was through Skype, with Penny or Will holding up her phone so he could see when Judy crossed the finish line. 

It meant a little more to her than she was willing to say that her family would come all this way just to see her run.

“It’s just a half marathon,” Judy protested, though she stepped back to let her family inside. Will made a beeline for the pantry, while Penny hovered by their bookshelf, automatically rearranging the books, taking ones she wanted to read and replacing them with books of her own. “You’ve seen me run those before.”

“We also missed you,” Maureen said, running a hand over Judy’s curls. “Two weeks is too long.”

Judy smiled at her mom, and then shot a glare at Will as she caught him trying to sneak an entire box of Oreos out of her pantry.


Penny was with her at the starting line, making sure she was drinking water and warming up properly.

“Seriously Penny, this isn’t my first half marathon,” Judy sighed as she continued her dynamic stretches.

"Please, when have I skipped out on hanging out with you at the starting line?” She asked, passing her sister a full water bottle. “The family will be there at the halfway point and at the finish, and Aiko, me and Don will be at all the checkpoints.”

Her sister said Don’s name with a waggle of her eyebrows. Judy ignored this and sipped her water. “You know, I invited Vijay to come hang out with all of us after the race.”

Penny’s face lit up with interest, but was quickly schooled into something that bordered indifferent. “He sounds like a good friend.” She said, trying and failing to keep her voice neutral. Judy smiled at the underlying tone of excitement in her littler sister’s voice. “Anyway, back to you.”

Judy was finishing warm ups when a small, boisterous group of her family, Aiko and Don converged upon her.

“Ready to kick everyone’s ass?” Aiko asked, throwing a friendly punch at her shoulder.

Judy just smiled. She had no dreams of coming in first, but she was fairly confident in doing better than usual. Aiko had run with her on sunny days, and Judy’s time had never been better than it had been in the past two weeks.

“The real question is,” and that was Don’s booming voice. “Did you get my texts?”

She had, in fact, received his texts. Or rather, memes. When she told him she was running in the race, he had sent her a mountain of running memes. There were at least three he had made himself, photoshopping her head over several Olympic runners with quirky captions. She saved all of them.

“When Tam warned me about the memes, I thought she was kidding.”

Don beamed. “Those were not easy to come by. You’re welcome.”

Judy smiled back, and allowed herself a moment to get lost in the way the sunlight caught on his unfairly long eyelashes, and turned his dark skin golden. He’d traded in the orange jacket for a soft-looking brown leather jacket. Judy would be lying if she said it wasn’t a good look on him. “Thanks for coming today.”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Doc.” He winked playfully, and the sunlight caught on something on his cheek, something that glinted when the light hit it in just the right way. Judy squinted, trying to figure out what it was.

John cleared his throat and Judy blinked, heat pooling in the back of her neck. The moment was broken, and she allowed her family to give her pats on the back and well wishes before they headed off, and left her to take her place at the starting line.

The race began and Judy was ready. She started off quickly, and settled into her preferred pace. As promised, her friends and sister popped up all along the track, and when she paused at the halfway mark to breathe and get water, she had to laugh.

Her family had brought signs, mostly just saying “Go Judy!” and “Best runner on the East Coast!” decorated with cartoon sneakers and trophies.

Someone (probably Aiko) had also given Don the idea for a sign, but his was big, messy, and mostly glitter. It took her a long moment to decipher what it said. “Badass princess with sneakers of gold.” She laughed as she gulped down the bottle, and then took off again with the cheers of the people she loved still ringing in her ears.

The thing was, her mind didn’t quiet down the way it usually did when she ran. Instead, it had caught on the sign. Or rather, the man that came with the sign. It meant something, that Don was here. That he was spending his afternoon following her through town, putting up with her family, and making her glittery signs. He had glitter on his face because he'd made that sign himself. People didn’t just do that for no reason. Aiko was there, but she was Judy’s best friend. Judy’s family was there because they loved her. Don was there because…

It was a puzzle that she couldn’t solve, and it distracted her. The answer seemed obvious, but she couldn’t accept it because it wasn’t the logical solution. Any attraction seemed preposterous. And yet, she was just as infatuated with him, wasn't she?

The puzzle kept her from worrying about her time. In fact, she nearly tripped over her own feet when the finish line came into view because there was no way that she had finished that quickly. She glanced down at her watch, and grinned. With a burst of energy, she sprinted the last meters and came crashing across the finish line with a grin on her face. She’d shaved three minutes off her best time, and her whole family knew it.

Penny and Aiko each crashed into her for a brief hug. Someone threw a towel over her neck and another handed her a Gatorade. “You killed it that second half,” Judy absorbed Aiko’s words slowly, her eyes still searching the crowd. “We could hardly keep up!” Judy’s hand was slick with sweat, and she handed the Gatorade to Penny so her sister could open it.

Then her eyes landed on him, as he caught up with them. Don was beaming as he enveloped her in a hug, sweat and all. “You did amazing!”

Judy huffed out a laugh. “First would have been amazing. Tenth?”

Don just rolled his eyes. “You did great.”

John appeared next to her to shove a water bottle in her hands, which she accepted gratefully. “He’s right, you did amazing. This has to be your best run yet.” He was effusive with pride, and also didn’t hesitate to wrap her sweaty body up in a tight hug.

She laughed. “Dad, let go, I need to shower.” He clung on tighter for just a minute while she flailed, and then released her. Will presented her with the medal, and she pressed a kiss against his temple. He was almost as tall as she was.

“Alright, people!” Penny clapped her hands together. “Runner needs to shower, and we need to head downtown to get a table at the flatbread place.”

A chorus of assent went up in their little group, and everyone dispersed.

Everyone except Don, who was standing there, looking a little confused. Judy swiped the towel against her forehead before she came up next to him, a small smile on her face. “What’s the matter.”

He looked down at her. “I don’t know where to go.” He said, hesitant.

Judy smiled slightly and tilted her head. “Well, you’re still invited to drinks.”

He opened his mouth, then shut it. Finally he managed, “Are you sure I won’t be intruding on family time?”

Despite herself, Judy had to laugh. How ridiculous she had been, all those months ago, to write him off as some cavalier, cocky asshole. If anything, this hesitation made it more difficult than before to deny her budding attraction to the man.

She placed a gentle hand on his arm and began to steer him towards the parking lot. “Go with them. Remember, Vijay, Tam, and Angela are all coming, too. Plus, I’m sure Penny would be happy to give you a ride, since she came separately.”

Penny seemed to melt out of the crowd and materialize at Don’s other elbow, swinging her keys. “I sure did. C’mon, coffee guy. I have a lot of questions for you.” Her grin was positively predatory.

She dragged Don away, who cast one more frightened look over his shoulder at Judy. She didn’t bother suppressing a laugh this time. Penny was harmless, and she was sure her sister wouldn’t ask any questions that were too embarrassing.

Chapter Text

Thirty minutes later, Judy and Aiko pulled up at the restaurant. It was Friday night, and even from the parking lot, they could see that the place was packed. It took them little time at all to spot their eclectic group, tucked away in the back corner at the biggest booth the restaurant offered. Don was perched on the edge, laughing at something Penny was saying when Judy met his eyes, and his grin seemed to grow impossibly bigger. Judy didn’t bother suppressing her own smile as she felt that now-familiar warmth bloom in her chest. Without saying anything, he scooted in on the seat so she could have the edge. Even at the big booth, seating was almost uncomfortably close. Tam, Angela, and John had wisely chosen the chairs on the other side of the table, and Judy was amused to see Vijay squeezed in between Will and Penny.

A cheer went up from the group when Judy and Aiko took their seats, and Judy could see a cluttered collection of beers on the polished wooden table in front of her. Don slid a full bottle of her favorite brand over to her, and she accepted it with a grateful sigh. She peeked over the rim of her glass to see Penny engaged in conversation with Vijay, and smiled.

“I hope she wasn’t too embarrassing.” Judy said to Don, nodding towards her sister.

His smile grew even broader. “Well, she asked me what my intentions were with you.”

Judy choked on her drink, and Don had to slap her back, and she didn’t have the air to tell him that actually did more harm than good. She waved off the concerns of her friends and took a long pull of the water their waitress plunked in front of her. “She what?”

Don chuckled. “I know. I told her the truth, of course.”

Judy’s heart thudded painfully in her chest. It was like she was sprinting those last few meters all over again. “And what was that?”

“Well, to keep you supplied in coffee, of course.” He nudged her, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper. “And continue rescuing you any time you needed rescuing.”

Judy let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. He was being funny, as usual. She covered her disappointment with another sip of beer. “I’m glad it wasn’t too painful.”

“Oh, don’t get me wrong,” He corrected her, eyes wide. “I felt like I was on a job interview. But as it turns out, we actually like most of the same books and TV shows. Even if her opinions on Game of Thrones are completely wrong.” He said that last part loud enough for Penny to hear, and she smacked his arm lightly, half turning from her position facing Vijay.

“Please. I disagreed with you on one episode.”

“The worst one.”

Penny blew out a put upon sigh. “It must be exhausting to be wrong all the time.” And with that, she turned away. Don turned his questioning look on Judy.

Now, it was her turn to grin. “That means she likes you, believe it or not.” She informed him, dropping her voice low enough so the others wouldn’t hear them. “Congrats, you’ve officially passed her test.”

“Your family is confusing.”

“Now you’re getting it.”

As if on cue, Maureen leaned around from her side of the table to join their conversation. “So, Don. I hear you’re a mechanic.”

Judy bit her lip, trying not to laugh as he straightened up at the sound of Maureen’s voice. “Yes. Tam and I both do, actually.” He nodded towards his friend, who was currently engaged in conversation with John, her hands waving animatedly as she tried to emphasize her point, while John nodded along in agreement. “The owner, Ava, is thinking about stepping back from her responsibilities for a bit and offered to hand them over to me.” He half smiled, as if he wanted to seem proud, but not smug. It was a look Judy had seldom seen on him before. “I’ve been taking a few business classes, just so I can get a feel for how to best help her run the garage.”

Vijay butted in, then. “He’s nearly drained the café out of espresso, since he insists on doing his work at my shop.”

My shop.” Angela chimed in, before turning back to her conversation with Will. Vijay rolled his eyes.

“In my defense,” Don raised a finger. “You have better wifi than my apartment.”

“You’re scaring away the customers.”

“You do that yourself, Vijay.” Don assured him. “Need I remind you of the broom incident?”

“That was once!”

“Twice!” Judy, Don, and Angela all said at the same time, grinning at the old argument being brought up again.

Will and Penny looked delighted at the conversation. Maureen seemed to appraise Don with renewed interest. Only John was looking at his daughter, a trace of his protectiveness in his expression. Judy met her dad’s gaze with a raised eyebrow.

Just then, their waitress dropped off their drinks, and offered to take orders. Judy hadn’t looked at the menu, but a pizza place was where one ordered pizza, so that was what she ordered. The group debated and agreed on one half-this and half that, and this pizza cannot have anchovies, what are you thinking, Will? Once the necessary adjustments had been made, and their amused waitress walked away, John held up his drink. “To Judy. Best runner on the East Coast.”

“Number ten in the ranking, number one in our hearts.” Penny added.

That garnered a laugh from everyone. After a bit of clinking and a not insignificant amount of liquid being sloshed onto the table, the party settled back into friendly conversation. Apparently, Maureen had a question about her old truck that just would not start, which Don was more than happy to answer. Judy found herself in deep conversation with Angela, Tam, and Will, who had to shout to be heard over his father, who in turn had decided to insert himself into Penny and Vijay’s conversation, much to the redhead’s chagrin. Poor Vijay sat there with wide eyes, unable to produce more than a few words every few minutes. Aiko just laughed at his struggle.

It was nice, was the thing. Don’s thigh pressed up against Judy’s, warm and solid, and she found herself half melting into his side as the night went on and her muscles finally admitted their exhaustion. Don, to her surprise, wrapped a supportive arm around her waist, and continued his conversation as Judy’s attention drifted. She purposely ignored Aiko’s questioning gaze as she melted a little more into Don’s side. It seemed he got along well with everyone he spoke to, listening with rapt attention to Will’s plan for his next robotics tournament, or the novella Penny was writing for her creative writing course this semester. (“She’s the TA,” John interjected, proud. “She’s just writing it for fun, but it’s the best damn thing I’ve ever read.” Penny blushed and rolled her eyes, even as Don offered her a high five.)

Everyone seemed to be in that comfortable food coma mood after the pizza had been demolished, and agreed to call it a night. Judy didn’t know if the warm feeling in the center of her chest was the result of the alcohol, or the feeling of being surrounded by everyone she held dear.

The cool air of the parking lot woke her up somewhat. She registered Aiko reaching into her bag to dig for her keys.  Penny and Vijay stood off to the side of their little group, exchanging phone numbers and laughing at nothing.

Angela and Tam both gave Judy tight hugs, congratulating her again on the race. She thanked them for coming out with her family. “I know they can be a lot.” She said, nodding at her rambunctious group.

Angela gave her one of those warm smiles Judy had come to look forward to. “Don’t apologize. They were wonderful.” Her eyes slid over to something just over her shoulder. “Now stop talking to us, and say a good night to your… erm, friend.”

Tam giggled and dragged her new partner in crime away before Judy could come up with an indignant response. Instead, she was left to turn around to look at Don, who was running a hand over the back of his neck as John spoke to him.

Judy was ready to come over and pull him out of a potentially hostile situation when the mechanic looked her way and sent her an easy smile. John followed his gaze, let out a sigh Judy could hear from five feet away, and slapped Don on the shoulder in goodbye before walking back to his wife.

“Do I have to tell my dad to back off?” She asked, only half teasing. It was hard to discern Don’s expression in the dark of the parking lot.

“No, no. He was, uh, asking me about the garage. It was literally shop talk.” She could hear the smile in his voice, and she relaxed.

“I had no idea you were planning on co-ownership. Or anything about those classes!” She said, giving him a friendly punch on the shoulder, to mask the tiny bit of hurt she felt. Judy had thought they had built a pretty solid rapport over the past few months.

He laughed, and the sound was free and easy. “We’ve been keeping it pretty hush-hush. Plus, I have no idea if I will even pass those classes I’m taking.”

Judy rolled her eyes. “I could have helped you study! I still can.”

“I… I think I would like that, Doc. Thanks.” She could practically hear his smile in the dark. It was a rare time he wasn’t smiling.

“Of course. And thank you for coming to my race today. You didn’t have to, but I’m glad you did.”

“I would never miss out on the chance to watch my favorite doctor kick butt.”

“I think you mean badass princess.”

He chuckled. “I think I do. Thanks for inviting me. We still on for Wednesday?”     

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“Be prepared, I’m bringing my notes.” He pulled her into a tight hug then, and she could feel him dip his head, his nose brushing the top of her curls before pulling away. He gave her arm a light squeeze and then called his goodbyes to the rest of the group before retreating to his car.

Judy walked back to her family, who were chatting with Aiko. She thanked them all for coming and promised over hugs that she would be home in two weeks. Her dad tapped on her hand before she could climb into the car where Aiko was waiting.

 “That Don guy…” Her dad stopped, and then started, speaking slower. “He’s good. Good for you, I mean. You should bring him when you come down for Memorial Day.”

Judy blinked, momentarily stunned. “I… okay?”

John shrugged, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “Just a suggestion. We have to be heading back, but we love you. See you in a couple of weeks.”

“Yeah, see you.” Judy murmured, watching his retreating back.

The drive back was quiet, which wasn’t unusual. It was that calm kind of quiet that falls when two people have lived together long enough to communicate with nothing more than a sigh and a chuckle. Judy’s phone buzzed, and she pulled it out to see that she had two messages waiting for her.

One was from Don, and it was just a long string of emoji’s followed by “#10 is 10/10”. She stifled a chuckle as Aiko glanced over at her with raised eyebrows. Judy waved her off, and swiped to see the next message.

It was a picture from Tam. At this, she had to laugh out loud. In the picture, Don was sitting cross-legged on the ground in front of a poster with a marker in hand, and a shocked look on his face. The thing that really made Judy laugh was the fact that it seemed that Ava had dumped a handful of gold glitter onto Don’s jet-black hair, judging by the woman’s own hands and self-satisfied smirk.

The picture was followed by This is what Don gets when he does arts and crafts during work hours.

Judy tapped out a quick reply. Arts and crafts are important to a healthy work environment.

Tam’s response was quick. Especially when you’re trying to do art to impress your crush.

Judy’s breath caught in her chest, and she locked her phone, only to unlock it again and look at the text. It was stupid, childish even to get that much of a thrill from seeing her suspicions, her hopes confirmed in one little text, but she couldn’t stop the butterflies that took flight in her stomach.

Biting her lip, she pulled up her text thread with Don. I’m going to visit my family in two weeks. Want to come with me? Before she could talk herself out of it, she hit send.

Chapter Text

Judy thought Tam looked a little too gleeful for someone who was awake on the wrong side of 6 am. Judy herself was still bleary with sleep, yawning from behind the wheel. She’d agreed to meet Don at the garage and take off from there. He was dropping off his bike to have Tam work on it while he was gone.

“Good morning!” Tam bounded up to the window like an overeager puppy.

Judy blinked at her. “Why?” Her voice came out like more of a croak.

Don shuffled out from the garage, a bag slung over his shoulder, looking just as tired as Judy felt. “She’s a morning person. Do not engage.” He said as he folded himself into her front seat and immediately closed his eyes.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” She countered. “Mornings are beautiful! Sunrise, the smell of dew on the grass, the way the world slowly wakes up-“

“Goodbye, Tam.” Judy said, rolling up the window. The other woman laughed and waved as Judy pulled out of the garage and onto the road.

“This coffee’s for you.” Judy pointed at one of the cups.

Don’s eyes popped open, and he looked at her like she had just told him he won the lottery. “Really?” She nodded, pointing again. “You’re an angel. An angel without wings.” He took a long, deep sip. “That’s the stuff.”

“That’s battery acid.”

He grinned at her. “Exactly my point.”

Judy just shook her head, a small smile on her face as she sipped at her own drink.

A comfortable lull fell between them as she drove. The sun was kissing the tops of the trees, and the radio played softly in the background. Once she hopped on the highway, it was pretty much a straight shot to her hometown, and she felt herself relax. This early, the road was practically empty, and she began to wake up to the world around her.

Don stretched in his seat and sat up when the station they were listening to started to go out of range.

“So. Good morning.” He said, sounding far more awake than he had before.

“Good morning.” Judy replied, amused. She risked a glance at him, and her breath caught in her chest. Even half asleep, Don was not half bad to look at. For weeks, now, they’d been dancing on the line of flirting-but-not-really. She had decided that this weekend, for better or for worse, she would tell him how she felt. How he made her heart beat wildly when he winked at her, and how she didn’t want their conversations to end when they walked out of the coffee shop. How she wanted her friend to be more.

“I can’t believe you got Jupiter this early.” He said, looking at his cup in awe. “They never open before six.”

This was true. Jupiter rarely opened early in the morning, unless Angela or one of the baristas ran out of coffee at home and got desperate. “Angela opened just for me. She was, like, weirdly excited to make us coffee.”

“Our friends need help.” Don said sagely.

“So much help.” Judy agreed with a slight laugh. She didn’t mention that she was slightly flattered by how invested their friends were in the outcome of their story. Sure, it was a little odd, but what else are friends for, if not simultaneously embarrassing and supporting you?

She peered at him. “Are you sure you’re ready for three full days with the Robinsons? We’re a lot.”

Don grinned at her, full of confidence. “Oh, absolutely. You guys are a riot.”

Judy groaned and let her head thump against the headrest. “I’m going to regret introducing you all, aren’t I?”

“So much. Now, how early is too early to ask for the AUX?”

She passed over the cord, but was shocked to learn he had never listened to her favorite musical before.

“It’s an American musical!”

“I’m Argentinian!”

“Doesn’t mean you won’t appreciate good music. One song?” She widened her eyes and turned to give him her most pleading face.

“One song.” He acquiesced.

Two and a half hours later, Don was wiping away tears as Judy laughed at him. “You didn’t tell me it was going to be that intense!” He accused as the last strains of the chorus faded out.

“It’s your own fault. Hamilton’s been out for years!”  

“And now my heart has been appropriately broken. Do you want me to be crying when I re-meet your family?” He sniffled again.

Judy rolled her eyes, though she still smiled. “You’ve met them before. They lo- they like you perfectly well.” She didn’t know why she had stopped herself from telling him that her family loved him. Maybe because it seemed strange, odd that he won her family’s affections as quickly as he’d won hers. Maybe because it was a little too close to the truth. Maybe she was overthinking things.

“Doesn’t mean I don’t want to make a good impression.” He replied, and his voice was still more raw than she was used to. She waited for him to make his usual quip, to say something that would brush away the vulnerability he had shared with her. He didn’t say anything.

Finally, she spoke. “You’ll be fine, I promise.” She looked at him, then, making sure he heard the truth in her words. If the texts her parents had sent her were any indication, he would be receiving just as warm a welcome as she would.

Judy pulled off the highway and began making her way down more familiar, winding streets.

“Do you miss them a lot?” Don asked, peering at her with a curious look on his face. “Your family, I mean.”

Judy blinked, caught off guard. His voice was light, but from what little she knew about his past, she knew he wasn’t close with his family. Her family dynamic must have seemed more than foreign to him. “Oh. Yeah, sometimes. We’ve always been close. I mean, Penny and I used to argue a lot, and my dad, well, he had his own thing. But it wasn’t until I moved away that I realized how much I relied on them. I didn’t think I would miss them as much as I did.” She smiled slightly. “Aiko and I went to college together, and our families are good friends. Living with her is kind of like having a piece of home with me.”

Don gave her a genuine smile. “That’s great.”

Judy half wanted to ask him if he missed his family, but that was the moment she rolled up to the house. Gravel crunched under her tires, and she barely even had time to park the car before Penny flew out the door.

Judy grinned at her younger sister’s exuberance and hopped out of the car to accept Penny’s hug. The redhead surprised both of them by hugging Don next with just as much as enthusiasm as she had with Judy. Don cast Judy a wide-eyed look, and she simply laughed as he awkwardly patted Penny on the back.

Moving like a miniature tornado, Penny had them bundled into the house within a minute. Judy was used to this, but enjoyed Don’s wide eyes as he followed Penny and allowed her to shove him around.

“Mom and Dad are at the store, but they’ll be home in a few. Will should be around here somewhere. WILL!” Penny threw back her head to holler for their brother at the top of her lungs. Don took a step back and nearly tripped over his bag.

There was a thud from upstairs. “WHAT?”

“THEY’RE HERE!”

They made their way up the stairs and poked their heads into Will’s room. Judy raised her eyes at the pieces of wire and batteries scattered around his normally neat room. Will was sitting cross-legged on the floor, holding what looked like a robot arm. He looked up and waved with the arm. “Hey guys!”

Judy smiled. “Nice arm you’ve got there.”

Will fiddled with the wires dangling out of the end of it. “It’ll be better once I hook it up to the main controls. It can wave on its own!”

“But can it high five?” Don asked from behind Judy.

Will’s eyes widened. “You’ve just given me the best idea!” He leapt off the floor and dove for one of his many notebooks.

Judy tapped Don’s hand. “He’s gonna be in his own world for the next hour.” She tilted her head to nod down the hall. “My room’s over here.

 “Hope you don’t mind sharing.” Judy added over her shoulder as she pushed open her bedroom door. “Usually the only person who comes to spend the night is Aiko. I mean, you can take the couch if you want, but I figured a bed is-“

“Bed’s fine. Sharing’s, uh, good.” He said, voice maybe a little higher than she was used to.

Her room was exactly the way she remembered it. Two twin beds pressed against opposite walls, bookshelves filled to the brim with everything from romance novels to SAT prep books. Her desk was pressed up against one wall, right under the window that looked out on their front lawn. The bright midday light was softened by the gauzy curtains that hung over her windows. The walls were green, and Judy smiled, remembering the summer she and Will had painted her room- and forgot to open the windows and inhaled far too many paint fumes. It was home. Except…

“Penny, where are my blankets?” Judy asked, dropping her bag at the foot of her bed. Her bed, at least, had sheets and one quilt. But the other bed was bare, save for a pillow.

Penny stuck her head in the door. “Mom put them in the wash. Wanted them to be fresh for your guest.” She shrugged. “They should be done soon.” She vanished down the hall and left Don and Judy standing in the room.

“So…” Don turned slowly, taking in the room. “This is where Judy Robinson became Judy Robinson?” He looked at her, eyes twinkling. “Please tell me there are boy band posters hidden in your closet. Or really bad yearbook photos.”

There was, in fact, an NSYNC poster hidden in the very back of her closet, but Judy would be damned if she let Don see that. “I don’t even know where my yearbooks are.” She replied, and flopped onto her bed. “My parents might, but I promise, they are not photos you want to see.”

Don sat down on the bed and grinned down at her. “I disagree. I bet teen genius Judy Robinson was adorable.”

"I was twelve when I started high school. I was not cute.”

“That young?”

She propped herself up on her elbows, meeting his gaze. “How do you think I became a doctor so young?”

He shook his head. “I guess I never put two and two together. Wow. High school at twelve. What was that like?”

“Lonely. Really lonely.” His face turned incredibly sad at her words, and she sat up, grabbing his hand. “But if I hadn’t gone through that, I wouldn’t be where I am now.” She smiled at him until he smiled back at her.

Even from her room, the sound of the front door opening was easy to hear. “Where is my favorite doctor?” Her mom called from downstairs. Judy and Don locked eyes.

“Ready to deal with the full force of the Robinsons?” She asked, only half kidding.

He stood up but kept his hold on her hand. “There’s no backing out now.” He winked at her, and she felt that familiar flutter in her chest. “Not that I would want to.”

Chapter Text

Maureen and John were setting bags on the counter when Judy and Don came down to greet them. Judy’s mom wrapped her in a warm embrace and Judy hugged her right back, breathing in the scent of their laundry detergent and her mom’s shampoo and home. John greeted Don with a handshake and a slap on the back. They all exchanged the general pleasantries while Judy helped them unload, and Don followed her around like a lost puppy, hands opening and closing, having no idea how to help. No, traffic wasn’t too bad, yes, they made great time, of course we can help prepare dinner.

“Can you cook, Don?” Maureen asked as she set out ingredients for salad.

He ducked his head, a bashful smile on his face. The one that Judy knew made him look younger and more innocent. “Ah, my talent in the kitchen doesn’t extend past instant noodles- but I’m ready to learn.” He added that last part quickly as Maureen’s eyes began to narrow.

“Excellent! Judy, you can set him up on the salad. Your dad and I will do the chicken.” Maureen patted Don on the shoulder, before slipping out onto the deck, where John was fiddling with the grill.

Judy handed the mechanic a knife and a cutting board. “Can I trust you not to cut off your fingers if I ask you to cut these in half?” She teased, waving the box of cherry tomatoes in front of him.

“I’ll have you know that I deal with dangerous tools every day, Princess.” Don shot back, snatching them out of her hand. “I can handle a few tomatoes.”

Despite his protests, Judy kept a close eye on him while she chopped the lettuce and shredded carrots.

“Okay, no, what is with that?” Don eyed her suspiciously as she got out the avocados.

Judy winked at him. “Robinson family secret. Trust me, it’s delicious.”

“Can I cut one?” He raised an eyebrow at her.

She shrugged. “I guess you’ve graduated to that. But be careful to avoid the pit.”

“No worries.” And then he went to cut the avocado in half, the wrong way.

Judy surged forward and caught his wrist. “Okay, nope, nope, that is not how you do it.”

He looked down at her, eyebrows knit together in obvious confusion. “What are you talking about, I was cutting it in half!”

Judy’s eyes widened. “Have you ever seen an avocado before? Look, let me show you.” Maybe it would have made more sense to grab her own avocado and show him from a safe distance. But Judy slid her fingers along his hand, and enjoyed the feel of his heated skin underneath hers. She guided his hand, and the knife towards the avocado and slowly showed him how to work his way around the pit, and only pulled away when he had to twist apart the two halves. Her hand flexed before she turned to continue her own work. “See? Easy as pie.” She said. She almost avoided his eyes, almost looked away, before she remembered her decision. She would tell him how she felt soon, so there was no point in hiding herself anymore. So instead, Judy grinned at him, and felt relieved to see him beam back at her.

She sidled up against him again to show him how to score the avocado and scoop out the slices. By the time Penny came down the stairs, Judy and Don had a salad at the ready, and were laughing at the many food puns Don was trying- and failing- to make. Judy pretended not to hear her sister mumble “gross” as she passed them to head outside.

Dinner was delicious. Maureen made sure to compliment Don and Judy on their salad. Don couldn’t stop admiring the flavor of the chicken. Judy’s mom was more than a little flattered. Conversation flowed easily between the group, bouncing from Will’s newest favorite show, to Penny’s classes, to Maureen’s former dream of owning a motorcycle.

“So,” John started once forks are scraping against plates, and everyone was sated from the good meal. “When did you two start dating?” His voice was light, with no real threat behind it, not like what Judy had experienced with the last boy she had brought home.

Judy choked on her wine. Beside her, Don froze, the smile from a moment ago still frozen on his face. Judy’s next cough jerked him back into action, and he patted her on the back while she struggled for breath.

Her parents and Will exchanged confused looks, while Penny giggled behind her napkin.

Finally, Judy had dragged in enough breath to rasp out a coherent and intelligent question. “What?”

Next to her, Don perked up, as if he had realized something. “Oh! Actually, this is a great story.”

Judy peered up at him through her watering eyes. “It is?”

“Yeah.” He looked at her like she was crazy. “Remember? It was a few months ago.” Don shook his head, smiling. Judy gaped at him unattractively. Where was he going with this? “Okay, so Judy was at Jupiter Coffee- the place we had met a few months before- on the worst date of all time.”

“Oh my god.” Judy whispered, as she realized exactly where he was going with this. He must have thought her parents- her well-meaning, woefully misguided parents- had heard her story of The Worst Date Ever. Which they had not. She hadn’t even mentioned Don before the race, but her parents must have thought… was she really that obvious? Her face heated up as she sat through humiliation that only Penny knew the whole truth about.

Don pushed on, unaware of the realizations and warning bells going off in Judy’s head. “This guy she was with kept talking over her and ignoring everything she said. I mean, he was the definition of the worst, right Judy?”

Even in her shell-shocked state, she managed a weak laugh, remembering Brandon’s self-important air. “Truly awful. He has this bizarre hatred of Keurig.” At her mother’s wide, horrified eyes, she couldn’t help but let out another laugh. “I know.”

“Right,” Don continued, bringing everyone’s attention back to him. “So the princess here can’t get rid of him, and sees me. So she flashes me the big doe eyes, so I, gentleman that I am, swoop in and save her from having to agree to ever dealing with that guy again, by reminding her of a date we had right in front of him.” He paused for dramatic effect. “The date was entirely made up, but Brad-“

“Brandon.”

“Brent didn’t need to know that.”

Now, everyone at the table was laughing at Don’s dramatic retelling of a fairly mundane event. “And the rest is history.”

Judy tried to telepathically scream at him That is not what they were talking about! But her mind powers must have been rusty, because he just grinned back at her. And man, he must have had some powers of his own. Because there was no other explanation that every time he looked at her, she felt that same zing that she did on the first day they met. Something electric and tingling. It was alive and magnetic, just like him. Was it any wonder she had been drawn to him since that first day?

Maureen just sent the pair a gentle smile. “Well, we’re so happy you both were able to make it down for the weekend.”

Judy jumped in before Don could say anything else. “Of course, Mom. Anyway, what’s for dessert?” She asked, already gathering dishes. Her heart was hammering in her chest, and Don’s half amused, half concerned look was not helping. This was not how she planned to tell him about how she felt. She didn’t need her parents’ well-meaning but misguided help.

Dessert was Grandma Robinson’s lemon meringue pie, and with the new food, the subject changed. Penny was getting ready to apply to colleges, and Will had picked out all of the AP classes he would be taking in his first year of high school.

Don offered to do dishes, and refused to listen to anyone’s protests otherwise. “You all fed me, the least I can do is clean up.” Where Don went, Judy felt obliged to follow (After all, how else would he know where they kept the dish soap?). The two of them were left alone as the rest of the family debated whether they should all play card games or watch a movie.

"You handled them pretty well.” Judy noted, nodding towards the living room where Will and John were engaged in a conversation that they couldn’t hear, but seemed to involve a lot of hand-waving.

Don grinned down at her. “It helps having met them once before. But they’re great.” His smile turned wistful, and he turned his attention back to the sink, where he scrubbed at a pan with more force than necessary. Judy wondered if he was gearing up to tell her something, anything about his family, which is why she was surprised when he asked, “Why did you move so far away from them? Sure enough there are great hospitals around here.”

Judy’s hand slowed where she had been drying a bowl. She hadn’t expected that question, and took a moment to realign her thoughts before she spoke. “There are. But I the hospital I’m at is one of the best in the country. It provided me with so many opportunities to grow as a doctor, and a person. If I stayed here, I would have…” She trailed off, her face screwed up in thought. She didn’t handle emotions well, but she wanted to answer Don’s question as honestly as she could. Maybe if she continued to be open with him, he would eventually trust her with his secrets. “I would have been stunted, because I would lean on my family any time things got tough. Moving away helped me become more… independent. More myself. But as you can see, I’m close enough to visit them every now and then.” She shrugged, unable to meet his eyes as she continued to put dishes away. “I miss them, but it was the right call. Plus,” She nudged him playfully. “If I didn’t move, I never would have met you.”

Don’s eyes widened at this. “Your life would be a darker place without me.”

In response, Judy hummed, bringing a finger to her chin. “It would definitely be quieter.”

“Hey!” He laughed, and scooped up a handful of suds to place on her nose.

Judy jerked in surprise and batted them away, smiling the whole time. The bubbles floated through the air and landed on Don’s shoulder. He blew them away. “You know…” He paused, and waited for her brown eyes to lock with his again. “They love you.” It wasn’t a question, but rather a statement.

Judy nodded. “They do.” Here, she stood up and met his eyes. They were dark, but sad. Not for her, but for something else. For himself? She ached to ask him about what he was thinking about.

Unfortunately, that’s when her family chose to start yelling. “No Monopoly!” John’s voice carried into the kitchen. “I’m scarred enough from the last time.” Judy grimaced at the interruption. If Penny’s explanation of her dad sleeping on the couch to keep an eye on his Monopoly money was any indication, they were seconds from a proper Robinson Family Fight.

“You all done?” Judy nodded to Don’s soapy hands. “I think we’re needed to prevent a full on war in there.”

“Over Monopoly?” Don’s eyes were wide as he began to rinse the suds off his hands.

“You have no idea.”


“Well shit.” Judy said to herself, staring at the dryer. The full dryer. The full dryer that was full of wet blankets that were supposed to be dry because someone (Penny) had forgotten to turn the damn machine on.

“Dammit, Penny.” Judy muttered, before she trudged her way back up the stairs. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. She would just grab a quilt from the couch and make do. Except Penny had chosen that day to wash every unused blanket in the house and then not finish the job. Including the quilt.

“So, bad news,” Judy announced as she arrived back in her room. “Penny forgot to turn on the dryer which means we are down on a significant number of blankets.”

Don was sitting on the blanket-less bed he had claimed as his, in an old t-shirt and athletic shorts. It wasn’t a far cry from his usual attire, and yet it made him look softer in her eyes somehow. Or maybe it was the yellow light from her lamp, casting new shadows across his face. His eyebrows rose as he sat up straight. “What’s the good news?”

Judy bit her lip and shrugged. “You don’t have to sleep under a duvet that has the periodic table on it.”

Don let out a huff of laughter, quirking an eyebrow at her. “I should have known you were one of those kids. I bet you’re the kind of person who learned the Dewey decimal system for fun.”

Judy was, in fact, someone who did that, but she wasn’t in the mood to give Don the satisfaction of knowing that. Instead, she picked up the blanket that was folded up at the end of her own bed and shook it out. “Oh.” Was all she said as she held it in front of her.

“What?” Don asked. She heard the springs of her bed squeak as she stood up.

Judy tilted her head, the gears in her mind turning quickly. Penny was the one who had made up her room, and she was also the one who had decided to wash all of the blankets in the house that day. Judy didn’t own a soft grey king-sized duvet, and yet that was what she found herself holding. “Penny.” She hissed under her breath.

Don repeated his earlier question, and Judy turned, blanket still held in a tight grip. She held it up like a shield. “My sister,” she began, voice tight. “seems to be trying to orchestrate… something between the two of us.” At Don’s (adorably) confused look, Judy elaborated. “All of the blankets in the house are being washed except for this,” She shook the blanket for emphasis “Big duvet.”

Don’s mouth slowly opened in a small “o” and Judy knew he understood. “So, your sister,” He said, his voice a little higher than normal. “Is trying to get us to, uh…?” He trailed off, staring at Judy, a wide-eyed, helpless look on his face.

Judy bit her lip. She felt like there was a whole gymnastics troupe performing in her stomach at the moment. She had meant to tell Don about her feelings, sure, but not like this. She didn’t want him to think that she had orchestrated this, had worked with Penny to leave them in this situation.

“We can shove the beds together…” She was thinking out loud, but when she met Don’s surprised eyes, she panicked and changed course. “Actually, I bet I can find a blanket around here somewhere,” Judy blurted, and shoved the blanket unceremoniously into his hands. “I’m sure I have something in the closet, I’m so sorry, I just-“

“Judy.” His voice was uncharacteristically quiet, but still easily cut through her babble. She turned around and met his gaze hesitantly. “It’s, uh. It’s fine. We can shove the beds together.” His smile turned into a familiar playful grin. “As long as you’re not a blanket hog.”

Despite herself, Judy rolled her eyes. “Right back at you.”

They shoved the beds together with only a minimal amount of struggling and multiple reminders to “Be quiet, everyone is asleep by now!” The duvet issue was settled and Don flopped down on the bed with a satisfied sigh. Judy went to lock her door, not trusting Penny to respect their privacy, even after orchestrating this whole event- something she would later deny up and down. “I’m sorry about this.” Judy apologized again. “My family is a lot but Penny… She likes to meddle. She seems to think there is something- something more than friendship, I mean- between the two of us."

Don propped himself up on his elbows, looking at her with a steady gaze. Judy took a deep breath. Now or never. “She and Aiko call you my coffee shop boyfriend.” Don grinned at that. “I guess I talk about you a lot. And at first it was a joke, and it didn’t mean anything. But somewhere along the way, it changed. My feelings did.” She laughed, but it was a nervous sort of giggle. “Ironically, I think they started to change the day you pretended to ask me out. Basically,” Judy took a deep breath, and steeled her nerves. She met Don’s questioning eyes, and said, without hesitating, “I like you. Romantically. I want to date you, and introduce you to people as my boyfriend. I want you to send me silly memes and I want to kiss you when you say something particularly funny. I want to share this stupid bed with you so I can fall asleep and wake up by your side.” By now, Don’s eyebrows had crept up to his hairline, and his mouth was once again open in shock. “So, that’s me. That’s what I have to say. But if you don’t feel the same, please tell me now.” She didn’t want her voice to break on the last word, to sound as pathetic and desperate as she felt, but that is what happened.

“Judy…” And god, he had never been that quiet, never sounded so gentle before. She bit her lip, prepared to hear his rejection. “I’ve liked you from the first day I met you. That very first day you glared at me in the coffee shop.”

He was smiling at her now. It wasn’t his cocky grin, but rather a hopeful little thing that tugged at the corners of his lips and made the skin around his eyes crinkle. “I didn’t think you remembered that.”

Don let out a breathy laugh that ended almost as soon as it started. “Of course I remembered you. I thought you hated me.”

Judy shook her head. “I could never hate you. Even then, when I didn’t know you. I never hated you.”

 "Still….” His smile faded and he rubbed his hands on his shorts, looking nervous for the first time. “Judy, I’ve been trying to figure out how to ask you on a date for months. And then you invited me here to meet your parents, and I spent all night trying to work up the courage to just ask, and you went and beat me to it.”

In spite of herself, Judy grinned. She leaned against the door, quiet. It was easy to tell from the set of Don’s shoulders that he was gearing up to say something important.

“My parents didn’t really want a kid.” Don admitted, voice uncharacteristically small. Not just quiet, but small. Don was such a force of nature, so persistently present and loud and proud, Judy had to blink, and stare at him to make sure he hadn’t suddenly been replaced by a stranger. He fisted a hand in his dark hair, staring fixedly at the wall. “I didn’t realize not all families were like mine until I got to school. Kids had parents who took them to the park, and helped with their homework. Who were home to make dinner, and went to see whatever cheesy Disney movie had just come out.” Each scenario he tossed out was so generic, so simple, and Judy had a matching memory for each one. Her dad carefully put a Band-Aid on Penny’s knee when she fell at the playground. All five of them lined up for a special showing on The Lion King at the local theater. Her grandma teaching her the super-secret family cookie recipe.

Don had none of that. “They raised me to be an adult when I was a kid.” There was no bitterness in his voice, Judy realized. He simply stated everything like it was a fact. Plain and simple. “I don’t know…” He trailed off, apparently not knowing what he didn’t know. “They didn’t show me what love was. I don’t know how to love someone. But you do.” He met her eyes, a fierce look behind them. Not angry. Just intense. “I see it in everything here. There is love everywhere.” Judy didn’t know where he was going with this. She was afraid of what he was going to say next, but she also desperately wanted to know. “I didn’t think…” He stopped again, struggling. Emotions were almost as hard for him as they were for her. She felt incredibly close to him right then, even from across the room. They liked science and mechanics. They liked things that made sense. Emotions were beyond both of them. He was trying. “I didn’t think I would ever fall in love, because it seemed stupid and pointless. I’d never seen it myself, and I certainly didn’t think I’d be able to tell what it was if it hit me over the head.” He was trying for her, she realized. “But I think I figured it out.”

Judy felt uncharacteristic tears burn behind her eyes. She couldn’t imagine someone not loving their child, even though she’d seen evidence of it come through the emergency room doors every so often. But not loving Don? He was stubborn, and a nuisance more often than not, but damn it, he was funny, too. And kind. She knew that, now. She had seen it, finally seeing what she’d missed- or maybe ignored- in the months before. And then she had asked him to come home with her, and he had said yes, and now? Everything had shifted. Was still shifting.

She wanted to control the shift, though. Don was sitting on her childhood bed, watching her take in his words. She’d been standing across the room, but now she stepped forward until she was right in front of him. His brown eyes were shining, widening with each second. She closed the distance slowly, first trailing a hand up to his shoulder. She didn’t have to touch him in here, away from prying eyes. Away from pretending. But this time, she wasn’t pretending. She knew it, and Don did too. A second hand came to rest at the nape of his neck.

“I can’t imagine not loving you.” The voice that came from her mouth was quiet and soft. She didn’t know she had the capacity to speak in a voice that could only be described as tender.

He was wide open to her then, and Judy felt like she could see everything inside of him. The good and the bad. He wasn’t a different person from before. He was just Don.

Not kissing him suddenly seemed like the most ridiculous thing in the world. Leaning down was all she had to do, and then she was kissing him. She was kissing Don, and he was kissing her back. His hands immediately came up to her waist, and he stood. She made a sound of protest, having to rise up on her toes to continue kissing him as he towered over her. He smiled into the kiss, and she could feel the smugness.

She turned them around forcibly, sitting back on the bed, forcing him down with her, until he had a knee braced on the mattress, hovering over her. He pulled away, question in his eyes. He wouldn’t do anything, she realized, without her say-so. This was what he hid behind his snarky, outer armor. A gentle man, who had probably been hurt more times than she could count. So she touched her forehead to his, and said, emphatically, “Yes.”

That was enough for him. He surged forward, and his kiss took her breath away. He pushed her further back on the bed, and her mind briefly flickered to her door, thanking her lucky stars that she’d locked it, because she didn’t need anyone walking in on what was happening, now. With Don all but covering her, his lips moving down to kiss her cheek, her neck, her collarbone. She gasped as his stubble brushed against the sensitive skin below her jaw, and he moved back up to kiss it, as her fingers tangled in his unruly hair. She tugged, gently, just enough to bring his lips back up to hers.

He held himself up with one hand braced on the mattress, next to her head. The other was simply resting on her waist. But she wanted more than that. She removed one hand from his hair, and snuck it under his shirt, scratching his skin lightly with her nails.

He slipped his thumb under her shirt. His hand was warm, and her body was already buzzing with electricity. It had been so long since she’d been held, touched like this, and she wanted more.

She tugged on his shirt, but he didn’t get the message, instead peppering kisses along her throat that left her gasping and needy. Finally, she pushed him back, and sat up herself, bunching his shirt in her hands. “This needs to be off, now.” She said lowly, and Don’s already dark eyes filled with lust.

 “Yeah?”

She pulled again. “Now, while we’re still young.” She was grinning, though, as he tugged his shirt off, tossing it to the side, and then things got a lot less funny and a lot more sexy because damn. That was a whole lot of Don, right in front of her. Her hands came to rest on his warm chest, nails scraping his skin beneath the light smattering of hair on his torso. Her fingers followed her eyes as she looked down at him, all of him. There was a trail of hair, below his navel, that went down, below his belt buckle. She could see the tent in his shorts very clearly. Her fingers skated up and down the length of his torso and he closed his eyes briefly, exhaling.

Then, he opened his eyes and met her gaze, and the smile was back, and it his turn to move, to speak. “It would seem,” He started, hands coming around to toy with the hem of her shirt. “That we don’t quite match.”

Judy tipped her head, humming. “What are you going to do about it?”

Instead of replying, he simply bunched her shirt up in his hands. Judy raised her arms, her shirt came off, and suddenly, Don’s hands were spread across her ribs, and she was surging up to meet his bruising kiss. Everywhere he touched, her skin tingled with electricity.

“You are gorgeous.” He mumbled against her lips.

She didn’t know what to say to that. She never knew how to take a compliment. Luckily, all she had to do was keep kissing Don. He understood perfectly.

His hand came up to cup her breast, and she swore she could feel the heat from his hand through the padding over her bra as he squeezed experimentally. She let out a soft “Oh,” and that was enough for him. He slipped one hand under the cup, and the other traced her torso, around to her back where he expertly unclipped her bra with one hand. She pulled back briefly to give him a look, and he just grinned at her. She was going to ask him just how many times he had performed that action, and then his calloused thumb brushed against her nipple, and she suddenly didn’t care if he’d unclipped one thousand bras, as long as he kept doing that. She arched into his touch, and their lips found each other again.

His other hand remained on her back, and he gently led her down until she was laying against her pillows, and he remained above her, one knee planted firmly between her legs. Don’s hand left her breast then, and she made a noise of protest, until she realized he was working to undo the button on her jeans. He pressed a kiss to the area just below her belly button as he unzipped her jeans, and pulled them down her legs. She reached out to help, and laughed as he swatted her hand away, determined to do this on his own.

Eventually, her jeans were also tossed away, and she was left in her underwear. It was dark blue, nothing special, but Don looked at her like she was… like she was the most incredible thing he had ever seen. She should have felt uncomfortable, but instead, her face warmed pleasantly. She liked that he was looking at her. His hands traced up her thighs, but just as his thumbs brushed the edge of the lace of her panties, they retreated back down her legs, only to begin their journey again. He was just teasing the edge of where she was desperate, dying to be touched. After the third round of this, she whined plaintively. He looked up at her with a devious grin. Bastard. “Something you’d like to say, Doctor Robinson?”

She made a face at him. “Something you’d like to do, West?”

He was still smiling that Cheshire smile. “Something? Oh, there are many things I’d like to do to you.” And with no warning, he slipped a finger under her panties and directly into her. There was little resistance, she’d been wet with wanting for what seemed like ages, but she gasped at the unexpected, wonderful sensation. He swallowed her quiet gasps with a kiss as he slipped his thumb under the fabric and rubbed it against her clit and she lost all comprehension of words.

His mouth dropped from hers, and he went to focus on her right breast. His tongue swirled around the quickly hardening bud, and she arched her back, relishing in the feeling. After a few moments of this, he switched to give her other side the same type of attention.

She was getting close; she could feel it. If he kept doing that with his fingers, and his tongue, oh. But he pulled off of her breasts and inched himself down. His fingers slipped out of her, and she could see they were shining in the low light. He hooked his index fingers in the fabric and slowly dragged them down her legs, and then she was naked in front of him, and Don West had his face between her legs. His tongue dragged up her folds, and she pressed a hand to her mouth to keep from crying out at the sensation. No one had ever gone down on her before, never like this, and she tried not to writhe, but it was so much when his fingers joined in, and his tongue swirled expertly round her clit. Stars seemed to explode behind her eyelids, and she let out a sharp noise.

He worked her through her orgasm, one hand spread across her hip as she arched with the feeling, and when she came back down to Earth, he had his fingers in his mouth, licking her taste from them. She’d never seen anything more attractive.

After a moment of just staring up at him, she realized that he was still wearing his shorts. “Those,” She looked pointedly at the fabric. “Must be pretty uncomfortable.” She pushed herself up, on slightly wobbly arms. He looked at her, clearly pleased. “I think I can take care of that.”

Judy made quick work of the tie in the front, pushing his hands away when he tried to help. “It’s my turn,” She mumbled into his skin, sucking a kiss into his neck, effectively shutting him up. His shorts came off easily, and he gasped as her hands brushed his cock through his briefs. She met his eyes as her hands slipped under his waistband, and she wrapped her hand around him. God, he was so hard, and she brushed her thumb against the head. He moaned as she pumped him once, twice, before shoving his boxers down all the way. They were both on their knees, now, facing each other.

Judy wrapped her hand around him again. She ran her thumb over the head of his cock again, and he let out another noise that could only be described as wanting. “What do you want?” She whispered in his ear. In response, he pushed her back down.

“You.”

One simple word, and it was charged with enough desire to send another shiver down her spine. Excitement and heat pooled in her belly, and she flung her free hand to the side, fumbling with her bedside drawer until her fingers finally found the box she was looking for. She pulled out a condom, and tore it open with steady hands, though the rest of her was shaky with excitement. He sucked in a breath as she rolled it over his cock, and then leaned forward to kiss her again. One of his hands slipped down, squeezing her ass tightly, once, before letting go.

“Judy?”

“Yeah?”

But they were both lost for words once he slid inside of her. She let out a quiet “ah” as she felt walls stretch slightly.

“You really,” Gasp, as he moved again. “Weren’t bragging.”

“I’d never lie to you, princess.” His warm breath fanned against her cheek.

“Well, then.” She bucked against him, eliciting another moan. “Get moving.”

But he was moving too slowly. With some effort, she rolled them over, and then Don was looking up at her with wide, pleased eyes as she hovered over them.

She took his dick in one hand, and guided him into her, sinking down slowly. She rocked against him, once, and he groaned, eyes sliding shut. She started moving on top of him, pleased as he swore under his breath. She rose almost completely off of him, before slamming back down, and he cursed. “Do that again.” He breathed, and she did. His hands tightened around her waist, and went back to squeeze her ass again.

She was feeling her orgasm, building slowly, leisurely, when Don wrapped one arm around her, and flipped them again, so that he was once again on top. She sucked in a breath as the angle changed.

He moved slowly as they oriented themselves, clearly trying to restrain himself. Before long however, his hips were moving like a piston, and she dug her fingers into his shoulder as he kept hitting that spot again and again.

He kissed her jaw, and she relished in that scrape of stubble against her skin. She slipped a hand between them to work her clit, and it was all so much, and as her second orgasm hit, she felt his hips stutter, and falter, and her vision blurred as they both finished, sweaty and out of breath.

It took her a moment to realize that he was half laying on top of her. “You’re crushing me,” She murmured affectionately.

“Sorry, doc.” He responded. He pressed a quick kiss to the corner of her mouth, then rolled off of her. She closed her eyes, felt as he got up, heard the telltale noise of him tossing the condom in the trash before climbing back in with her.

He rolled over, so now she was half on top of him. She felt more than heard his rumble of laughter. One of his hands came up to card through her curls.

They would have a lot to talk about, come morning. But tonight, she was satisfied to just lay here with him. She could hear his heartbeat slowing down, along with his breathing, until it was deep, and heavy. She felt herself slipping towards sleep as he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Goodnight, Judy.”

She smiled, and mumbled something like “Goodnight, Don.” into his chest before she slipped into a deep, dreamless sleep.

The rest of the weekend was lost to Judy. Any time she so much as looked at Don, all she could think of was the slide of his skin against hers, and how right it felt when they were together. If her family detected any difference in the way they were acting, they didn’t comment on it, which led Judy to wonder in the back of her mind how much they had acted like a couple before that first night.

Arriving back in town, however, garnered different responses. Judy dropped Don off at the garage, and when he leaned down to kiss her through the window, a loud scream caused them both to jerk back, and Don hit his head on the car roof. They turned to see Tam standing in front of the garage, jumping up and down with a level of ecstasy most humans reserved for when they won the lottery.

Aiko just took one look at Judy when she arrived in the apartment and said “Holy shit. You guys finally did it.” Before Judy could ask how Aiko knew from just one glance, she found herself being dragged down to the couch by her roommate and best friend, suitcase forgotten and door left ajar. “Tell me everything.” If Judy was being honest, she had been dying to tell someone about it, and she wasn’t about to share the details of her sex life with her sister.

Suffice it to say, everyone in their close group of friends had heard about their relationship within the first 48 hours of them being home. When Don asked her out for their first “official” date at Jupiter Coffee on Wednesday, Vijay gave them free coffees and guided them to a table with a Reserved sign written in blocky marker. “It’s like a national holiday.” He said, pretending to wipe tears from his eyes.” Don laughed, Judy sighed, and Angela yelled at him to get his butt back to the counter before he ruined “The most important date that has ever happened in Jupiter”.

Judy bit her lip, looking at Don, whose eyes were still twinkling. “The most important date ever, hm?”

“What was it I said last week? That our friends need help?”

Don raised his cup. “Are you really complaining about free coffee?”

Judy heaved a dramatic, put-upon sigh and raised her own cup to tap against his. “I guess not.” They exchanged small smiles, which quickly turned to grimaces. Judy coughed loudly as, once again, she was forced to choke down battery acid, while Don muttered, “What in the sugar-coated hell is this?”

Over the sound of her gagging, Judy could make out the sound of Angela yelling “Vijay, you did not.” Her coughs eventually turned to hiccups of laughter, which Don joined in on. Leave it to their favorite barista to make their first date into an event for his own amusement.

Coffee mishap aside, the date went well. They laughed and made jokes and Judy enjoyed how they fell into their easy, usual banter. Part of her had been worried that things would change once they got together, that they would be awkward and silent, unsure of what to say. But their conversation flowed easier than ever, with a few new flirtatious jokes thrown in here and there. When Don kissed her outside of the shop, it felt almost more intimate than something behind closed doors. They were announcing who they were to the general public, and what they were was a couple. (“A couple of idiots.” Penny said over the phone later that week.)

Chapter Text

 “We’re going to be late.” Judy sighed as Don pulled the garage door down.

“I’m not the one who kept us up last night.” He replied, shooting a wink her way. They were awake far too early, and it was a little too cold for mid-September, but the couple was up and already behind schedule.

Judy was unrepentant. “Be that as it may, you’re the one who whined about waking up, and if we’re late, we’re in trouble.”

“It’s Vijay, how much trouble could we be in?”

Judy simply shoved her phone into her boyfriend’s hand and went to fetch their helmets. She had pulled up her most recent text from Vijay. Don’s eyebrows crept upwards as he read. “Your friend is very creative with his threats.”

Our friend,” Judy corrected, trading his helmet for her phone. “Wants us to be there to support him, and dammit, we’re gonna be there.”

Don grinned and swung himself onto his bike, and Judy settled in behind him, and wrapped her arms around his torso. “Well then, let’s not keep him waiting.”

The chilly wind bit at her cheeks and blew through her jacket as they zipped down empty streets and through the still-sleeping town. She pressed closer against Don’s warm back and kept her eyes trained on her watch.

Despite their late start, they still made it with five minutes to spare, a fact Don smugly reminded her of as they approached the small crowd waiting outside the shop. He quirked an eyebrow as he saw the sign. “Not the most creative name, is it?”

Judy gave his shoulder a soft shove. “Leave it be. I think Jupiter Two has a nice ring to it.”

They made their way to the front of the crowd just as Vijay opened the door and jogged down the front steps. His gaze landed on the couple in front and a large smile crossed his face.

“Hey, you made it!” He greeted them.

Judy pulled him into a warm hug. “You’ve worked hard for this. We wouldn’t miss the opening day of your coffee shop.”

Don patted their friend on the shoulder. “As if you gave us a choice.” His tone was teasing, softening the meaning of his words.

Vijay shrugged. “I know how slow you two move. Didn’t want my favorite customer to miss out on free coffee.”

“You mean me, right?” Don’s quest for favorite customer status hadn’t ended when he and Judy had started dating. If anything, he had doubled down on his task. It had become a long running joke between the three of them, and everyone else was sick of hearing Don gripe about it.

Vijay just shook his head, still smiling. “Seriously, thanks for showing up today, I appreciate it. I’ll see you when we open in,” he checked his watch. “Oh shit, five minutes!” He pivoted and ran back inside.

Judy smiled smugly. Don looked down at his girlfriend. “Stop it.”

“Stop what?” She asked innocently.

“This contest isn’t over.” He was practically glowering, and she couldn’t help but laugh at his expression. He soon joined in with her. “This coffee better be worth the struggle.”

“As long as the it tastes the same, you’ll be just fine.”

“Although if Vijay keeps the same crazy hours as the other store, who knows when they’ll see any business.”

At the sound of two familiar voices, Judy turned to find herself staring at Penny and Aiko. Penny looked bright eyed and completely awake, and was pulling a grumpy-looking Aiko behind her. Aiko appeared to be more asleep than awake, with her dark hair hidden under a hood, and had her hands shoved in her pockets.

“Penny!” Judy was pleased, if not confused to see her sister. “What are you doing here?”

“Nice to see you too, roomie.” Aiko groused.

Judy quirked her eyebrow. “I saw you yesterday.”

“I drove up last night and crashed at your place. Which you would know if you had come home last night.” Penny waggled her eyebrows at the couple.

Judy smiled, unbothered by her sister’s insinuation. It was accurate, after all. “It’s good to see you. I didn’t realize you were coming up for the opening.”

Penny’s fair face flushed slightly, and Judy’s smile only got wider. “Vijay invited me. I figured it would be nice to come up.”

Before Judy could call out her sister on her obvious crush, the doors opened, and their small group fought to be some of the first few through the doors. Penny and Vijay were adorably awkward in their interaction at the register, and Judy really hoped one of them asked the other out soon, before it went from cute to sad.

When she and Don approached the counter, Vijay just shook his head and pointed to the pick-up counter, where two cups were sitting. “On the house,” He looked at Don and paused for dramatic effect. “For my favorite customers.”

Don’s jaw dropped, and Judy laughed. “Thanks Vijay. You just made his entire life.” She tugged her boyfriend away before he could hold the line up.

He held his paper cup with a reverence most people saved for holy communion. “How does it taste?” She asked, lips still quirked upward.

He closed his eyes, savoring the first sip. “Like victory.” His brown eyes opened again and landed on hers, and she melted a little bit.

“Now what will you two argue about?” She asked as they made their way to the table Penny and Aiko were sitting.

He chuckled and tucked her into his side. “I’m sure we’ll think of something.”


Fall was Judy’s favorite season. She loved watching the trees change, loved watching the ground become littered with leaves, and loved bundling up in layers of scarves and sweaters as the temperature steadily dropped.

Today, she relied on Don to keep her warm. They were walking hand-in-hand down the trail, content in the quiet of the woods around them. She adjusted the backpack on her shoulder, and he squeezed her hand.

They reached the wooden bench, and Don stopped, and took both of her hands in his. “This is where I leave you.”

Judy smiled. “Actually, it’s where I leave you.”

He pulled her closer. “If only for a few minutes.”

Judy tilted her face up so their noses were brushing. His breath was warm, ghosting across her cold cheeks. “Only that.”

He kissed her, a sweet chaste thing that held the promise of something more. When she stepped away, he grinned at her. On his face was a look she was used to seeing. Where his eyes were filled with love and admiration and pure, unadulterated happiness. She would be put off by it, if she didn’t know that she looked at him in the exact same way. Penny was right, they were disgusting.

“Alright,” Don fixed her scarf, and kissed her forehead. “Off you go.”

Judy waved and continued down the path alone. Her spot was only a few minutes away, right before the trail let out into the parking lot. She leaned against a tree and dropped the backpack to the ground. If their timing was right, she had a couple of minutes to kill before she was required to do anything. She opened up her phone, and swiped through the multitude of photos Don had sent her the day before, all of his new pet chicken, Debbie. They had gone to the fair the week before, and Don decided that he wanted a pet. All of the rabbits were sold, and a goat was out of the question. Judy was about to suggest going to the local animal shelter, when Don’s eyes caught on the chicken. She thought he was kidding when he said he was coming back the next day to buy her. He was not kidding. (“Think of all of the fresh omelettes!”)

After a couple of minutes, Judy heard heavy footsteps, and looked up to see Tam running towards her at full speed. Judy held her arms out to half-catch her friend. “Hey, you’re good. You made good time.” She assured her, and then dropped to her knees to open up the backpack. “Don and the others are gonna do their best to hold her up.”

Tam bent over at the waist and rested her hands on her knees, breathing hard. “I don’t know why I agreed to this. She knows something is up.”

Judy quirked an eyebrow and handed her the shirt. “This was your idea.”

Tam switched out of her hiking tank top and into the button down. “I don’t know why you let me do this.”

Judy tossed her the deodorant next. “We love you and support you.” She gave Tam a few spritzes of perfume, helped tidy her hair, and stepped back, nodding approvingly. “You officially don’t look like you just ran down a mountain.”

Tam nodded, and wiped her palms on her pants. “The car?”

Judy held up the keyring, and the two girls swapped keys. “Is safely parked by the exit. Not a scratch on it.”

The car, of course, was the old vintage Tam and Ava had been fixing up for the better part of a year. The rusty, sad hunk of metal had become a beautiful, like-new-except-better ride that Tam had put the finishing touches on the night before.

“Hey,” Judy placed a calming hand on her shoulder. “She’s gonna say yes. Plus,” She smirked. “If the ring doesn’t sway her, the car definitely will.”

Tam took a deep breath, and when she met Judy’s eyes again, she could see the confidence in her gaze. “Yeah.”

Judy patted her shoulder. “Now get out of here. I have no doubt you’ll hear them coming.”

Tam grinned, then turned and hurried out to the parking lot.

As expected, the group was loud enough that Judy could hear them before she saw them. She already had the backpack settled on her shoulders when Don and Ava, followed by Ava’s friends and coworkers came strolling down the trail.

Ava’s beautiful face only became more confused when she saw Judy.

“Hey, Don!” Judy called out, false surprise in her tone. “Fancy seeing you here!” Her eyes lighted on Ava, and she fought to hide her smile, she really did. “And Ava! I didn’t know you liked hiking.”

“Hi, Judy.” She called out guardedly. “Have you seen my girlfriend? These knuckleheads,” She jerked her thumb to the assembled group, ignoring the mock offended gasps of her friends. “Won’t tell me. They were all just. Waiting to walk with me. It’s weird.”

Judy strode forward to catch up with them. “As a matter of fact, I have seen your girlfriend.”

Ava tilted her head. “Where is she?”

Judy held out her arm, as they reached the end of the trail. The parking lot was almost visible through the tree-line. “She has something for you.”

Slowly, realization dawned on the other woman’s face, and her lips stretched into a grin. “I can’t believe she beat me to it,” She muttered.

“Go on,” Don encouraged her. “Tam’s been planning this for weeks.”

With a grin back at the rest of her friends, Ava jogged out to the parking lot to see her girlfriend.

When she was out of sight, the group immediately began chatting in hushed whispers.

“Do you think she’s gonna say yes?”

“Are you kidding me? They’re practically married already.”

Judy sidled up to Don, who automatically tossed an arm over her shoulder. He looked down at her. “What do you think?”

Judy hummed, resting her temple against his shoulder. “Oh, she’ll say yes, but ten bucks says Tam will be the one who cries.”

One of Ava’s fellow mechanics laughed. “I’ll take that bet.”

She reached out to shake his hand. “Hope you like losing.”

Judy was wondering how long they would have to linger at the end of the trail, but it was only moments later that Tam yelled, “GET OUT HERE AND SAY HI TO MY FIANCEE!” Which answered that question. The group cheered and streamed out into the parking lot to congratulate the happy couple.

As it turned out, both Ava and Tam were in the process of wiping away tears. A small, silver band was on Ava’s ring finger, and they were both leaning against the car, looking as blissed out and in love as two people could be.

Judy turned to look at Don who was smiling down at her with twinkling eyes.

“Stop that.”

“Stop what?”

“Looking at me like that.”

“Like what?”

Like he was imagining her with a ring on her finger. Like he was imagining her in a white dress. Like he was picturing future Sunday mornings where she was sleep-bleary, dressed in nothing but a t-shirt, flipping pancakes, while he pressed lazy kisses to her neck. Like he could see their whole future.

“Focus on the lovers.” She flapped a hand towards where Tam and Angela were still embracing against the car. Don pressed a kiss to her temple.

“I am.”