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where the heart is

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Paige has got it all figured out. Or, she thinks she has, at least. It’s Valentine’s Day, and while Nattie’s going to be out of the house until the evening, that doesn’t mean that Paige can’t do something nice for her girlfriend to come home to when she gets back.

She’s got a gift and a card for Nattie upstairs in her bedside table drawer, waiting to be given to her later on, but this is different. This is going to be a romantic meal, a romantic gesture. Candles on the table and all.

Nattie’s the one who usually cooks their meals, considering that being on the road wrestling since she was a teenager never really gave Paige much time to perfect her cooking skills. Sure, of course she can handle basic dishes, but she’s never attempted something this big before, even if it’s just for the two of them.

Paige isn’t one to back down from a challenge, though. Besides, she’s got instructions. It’s not like she’s doing this completely aimlessly. How hard can it be to cook a whole roast dinner?

It doesn’t feel very hard when she’s doing it, when she’s peeling vegetables and humming along to the music on her phone hooked up to the speaker in the kitchen.

She finishes the prep a while later and gets everything into the oven. The veg will come out first, will finish cooking long before the meat does, and when Paige does take it out, it – it actually looks good. Sure, it might be a while before it’s actually time to eat, but she’ll reheat them later if they need it.

From here on out, everything should go smoothly. All there is to do now is to wait for the lamb and to check on it periodically to make sure it’s doing OK. Timing is crucial.

So, Paige waits.

She plays with the cats. She spends what must be a good half hour engaged in a deadly pun war with Becky over text. (Paige loses, but that’s to be expected. Becky is unbeatable on that front.) She flips through the channels on the TV.

She does everything but remember to set a timer to take the food out of the oven.

Paige is typing out a long string of emojis to Becky when she smells it – something off, something wrong, something… burning. She hurries to the kitchen, to the stove.

It takes one look to realise that this is way past being well done. This is close to pretty much inedible. Paige thinks it must be, anyway. She’s not about to try it and see for herself.

She’s only just managed to scrape it off of the dish and into the bin when there’s the sound of the front door unlocking and Nattie’s voice from the hallway. Wow. She must have really left it a long time if Nattie’s back already.

“Hey, I’m home!” she calls. Paige can hear her moving towards the kitchen, can hear her footsteps getting closer.

She nods a greeting when Nattie joins her in the kitchen.

“Evening. You have a good day?”

“It was OK. Something in here smells…” – Nattie wrinkles her nose – “… burnt?”

“Uh, yeah,” Paige says, sheepish. “Kinda tried to make dinner. Kinda messed it up. More than kinda, really. Most of it’s in the bin right now.”

“Well. You still made the effort to do something for me. It might not have worked, but we can cook one together sometime, right? Maybe you messed up the timing with the meat, but the veg still looks good. We can put that in the refrigerator and have it with something another time.”

“Another time?” Paige wonders. She’d expected that they’d be eating it with something else tonight.

“It’s Valentine’s Day, I wanna take you out. You’ve been working hard all day.”

Paige smiles.

“I have been, haven’t I?” she says, leaning in to kiss Nattie on the cheek. “Even if… well. Even if nothing came of it.”

“Hey. It wasn’t nothing. Just remember to set a timer next time, OK?”

“OK,” Paige answers, quiet, and she gets her hands on Nattie’s waist, pulling her for a proper kiss before she goes upstairs.