Author: Kat Lee
Fandoms: Step By Step/Supernatural
Character/Pairing: Dana/Charlie, one-sided Cody/Dana
Challenge/Prompt: lands_of_magic: Blind Date (If you join, be sure to tell them Kat Lee of Team Winter sent YOU!)
Word Count: 1,369
Date Written: 16 July 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
"Thank you, Cody," Dana says as she dismounts from behind him. She hopes she doesn't smell too badly from his bike's fumes, but she had had very little choice if she was going to make her date.
"No problem, Danaburger," Cody replies, grinning widely, but then he frowns. "I still don't understand why you didn't just ask Carol to borrow the car. You're a responsible driver."
"I'm not the reason I didn't ask," Dana tells him, nervously tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. "Mom and Frank would never understand. They'd be too afraid to let me meet RingFollower, but I've been talking to this guy for months. I know him! He's not dangerous."
Cody glances around the parking lot and up to the large, old building in front of them. "I hope you're right."
"Speaking of which, I'm kinda surprised you offered to bring me."
"I didn't want you to get wet," he mutters, looking up at the darkening sky. Thunder rolls in the distance.
"Still, I know how you feel about me, so it was really sweet for you to put your feelings aside and bring me."
"Dana," Cody says, looking into her eyes, "I want you to be happy, whatever it takes." His grin suddenly widens. "I know eventually being with me will make you happy, but I also know you're not ready for that yet." He winks. "I'll be here when you are."
Holding her books closer to her chest -- there was no reason why she shouldn't return the library books she had finished why she's here --, Dana barely keeps herself from groaning. "Cody -- "
"It's okay." He shakes his head. "You don't have to say it. I know you're not ready. Just have a good time, okay?"
She nods. "I will." Looking around them again, she nervously bites her bottom lip.
Watching her, Cody comments, "You're afraid he's not going to show."
"It wouldn't be the first time I was stood up," Dana grumbles, "or made fun of." A light pink tinges her face, and she looks away from him.
"You're sure he's a guy though, right?"
"Yeah." She frowns. "Why would you ask that?"
Cody shrugs. "Oh, no reason. There's just some chick headed this way, and she's got red hair and is carrying a rose and a pretty big book that I guess could be written by that Tolkein dude."
The pink fades from Dana's face, leaving a shade paler than usual. "No way," she breathes.
"Totally way, but it can't be your date 'cause you said you're sure he's a guy."
"Cody, let's get out of here."
"What? Why?! Dana, you've come all this way to meet this person!"
"But I didn't know it was a girl!"
"I thought you said you knew it was a guy!"
"I thought I did! I guess . . . I guess, we never really discussed our genders, but with a name like Charlie -- "
"You figured it had to be a guy."
"Yes! Besides, I wouldn't have thought a girl was interested in me! I'm not Al!"
"What does that have to do with anything?" Cody asks her, not following.
Dana rolls her eyes. "Not now, Cody! Let's just go!"
"Why? Because your he's a she? Why should that even matter?"
"Why should you be grilling me instead of being excited that I don't want to meet him -- her -- it any more?!"
"Dana Foster Lambert!" Cody admonishes sharply. "Whether this girl is or is not the guy you intended to meet, they're still a person! They're not an object!"
Dana shuts her eyes and breathes. "You're right," she acknowledges, finally opening her eyes and looking back at him. "But that's exactly why I don't want to meet them!"
"That makes zero sense!"
"Look at who's talking!"
Thunder rumbles louder, and lightning cracks through the darkening sky. "Cody," Dana whines, stomping her foot, "just get me out of here! Please!"
"Dana, you should meet your friend!"
Dana shuts her eyes again, praying she didn't just hear the redheaded girl calling her name, but when her name is called again by the unfamiliar, definitely feminine voice, she reopens her eyes, glares at Cody, and turns around to meet her fate. "C-Charlie?" she barely manages to squeak out her name. "R-RingFollower?" She bites her lip again to keep from asking her to tell her that she isn't the person she's been talking to, and secretly fawning over, for months.
The girl's lips turn slowly, shakily up into a nervous smile. She is pretty, Dana realizes, her heart skipping a beat; at the same time, she wonders what's happening to her. Her palms are growing sweaty, and it's getting hard to breathe. It starts to rain, but she's barely aware of the drops hitting her face. "This is for you," the stranger says, handing her the rose. Then she opens her umbrella and holds it above their heads.
Dana whirls around as Cody's bike suddenly revs to life. "Cody!" She glowers at him.
Cody grins and shrugs. "I'll be back in a hour!"
"I'm sorry," Charlie says softly behind her. "I . . . guess I should have told you, but I was afraid you wouldn't want to meet me if I did. We've had such interesting conversations. I really wanted to meet you, even if we can only be friends."
Dana looks back at her and feels her breath catch in her throat. The girl really is quite lovely, and she's as nervous as she is, Dana realizes. But her eyes are bright with life, intelligence, and hope. Male or female, she's the same person with whom she's been corresponding all these months. She's the same person who has such interesting theories about Tolkein's, Shakespeare's, and others' works. She's the only person her age who Dana knows who's actually read all of their volumes not just once but several times over. She's the only one with whom she can discuss anything.
Her fingers tighten around the stem of the rose. She looks back to Cody and smiles bravely. "Make it two hours. Better yet, wait 'til I call you."
His broad, approving grin opens in merry laughter. "That's my Danaburger!" He revs his bike and starts back down the road, leaving Dana alone with a pretty girl who, despite the fact that she's certainly not a guy, is no stranger.
Dana decides to test that theory. Turning back to her, she asks above the rising sound of rain hitting the sidewalk and the blowing breeze. "If we could have met anywhere," she asks, "where would you have liked to meet me?"
Charlie answers without hesitation though with an eager, bright smile. "In a hobbit hole," she says just as she told her in her last letter, "in the middle of the Earth."
"It's no hobbit hole," Dana says with a smile, "but the library will have to do."
Charlie carefully keeps the umbrella above her head more than her own as she falls into step just behind her. She watches the way she moves and the way her simple, gray skirt slides around her legs. Dana blushes, feeling her gaze on her, and is about to say something when Charlie speaks again, her voice quiet, soft, almost timid. "You really are beautiful."
Dana looks up in surprise as Charlie steps closer beside her. "Not very many people see me that way," she says, brushing her bangs out of her face. Indeed, up until this point in her life, only her mother and Cody have ever told her that and meant it.
Charlie gazes into her eyes. "Then shame on them," she says. "Shame on the world for not recognizing great beauty."
Blushing more deeply, Dana lowers her eyes, but when Charlie steps up onto the first step leading up to the library and offers her hand down, all while still keeping the umbrella over Dana's head, Dana no longer hesitates to take her hand. "And into a world of adventure we walk, where behind every tome awaits a new story and a new world."
Dana beams, recognizing the description from one of the very first E-mails Charlie wrote her. She squeezes her hand. "Yes," she agrees, now finally eager again, "we do -- together."