Written for Prompt 470 - Past Challenges Revisited 161 to 200, using 164: Good Idea, at slashthedrabble.
Sequel to ‘The First Move’
This is the much longer version of the ficlet I posted to the community.
The evening was going better than Tosh had dreamed it would when she’d made up her mind to take Ianto’s advice, go out on the town and make the first move. It hadn’t taken her long to realise that choosing to sit with Lily had been a good idea, one of the best decisions she’d made in a long time. Lily was smart and a bit of a computer nerd herself, being the tech trouble-shooter for one of Cardiff’s biggest insurance companies, so conversation was easy, though it soon ranged away from computers and onto other subjects, like music, books, movies, and plans for Christmas, which was only three weeks away.
Just after ten, as they were deep in a discussion about the relative merits of the Harry Potter books versus the movies, they were interrupted by two men who were clearly already the worse for drink.
“Hey there, are you two gorgeous ladies looking for a good time? Because if you are, we’re your guys. Let us take you away from all this!” Waving his arm in a dramatic gesture, one of them leaned on their table, almost knocking Tosh’s drink into her lap.
“Actually no,” Tosh said calmly, grabbing her glass before it could topple. “We were having a perfectly lovely time before you showed up, so why don’t you go and bother someone else?”
The other guy sniggered. “Trust you to pick the lesbo brigade to hit on. C’mon, mate, there’s a couple of hotties at the bar, we should go on over and make their day. I need another beer anyhow.” He tugged on his friend’s arm and the two of them staggered away to try their luck elsewhere.
“Why do guys always seem to think girls can’t have fun without them? That we’re just sitting around desperately pining for one of them to notice we exist and free us from our dull and empty lives for a few hours?” Tosh grumbled to Lily, then she put her hand to her lips, suddenly realising something. “Oh! I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have just assumed you weren’t interested.”
“No, it’s okay, I wasn’t; that was so cool the way you got rid of them. I wouldn’t have known what to say. I’d much rather be with you anyway; men aren’t really… I mean…” Lily blushed prettily. Tosh was entranced; the other woman really was lovely.
“Um, would you maybe like to go somewhere else, somewhere quieter? I mean there’s a coffee shop not far from here that should still be open. It’s not the best coffee I’ve ever had, but it’s still pretty good…” Tosh ground to a halt, realising she was starting to ramble, but Lily was nodding.
“I’d like that. After three glasses of wine I think I could use a coffee or two.”
“Okay then.” Tosh smiled and stood up, gathering her things while Lily pulled her coat on and picked up her handbag. Side by side, the two women headed out into the chilly night air.
“This way,” Tosh said, gesturing to her left. “Oooh!” She hunched her shoulders and shivered. “Good thing I didn’t suggest going for ice cream!”
Lily laughed, falling into step beside her. “Much as I love ice cream, this really isn’t the weather for it! My fingers are freezing already. I think these gloves were designed to look nice rather than to keep out the cold.”
“The coffee shop isn’t far; we’ll be indoors again out of the cold in a few minutes, with hot drinks to warm our hands,” Tosh assured her. “At least it isn’t snowing yet.”
“Do you think it will?”
“I don’t know, but this is Wales, and something or other falls from the sky most days.”
“That’s true,” Lily agreed. “I’ve only been in Cardiff for a few months, but I’m already getting used to the weather. A white Christmas might be nice though.”
“Mmm, it looks so pretty when the snow’s fresh. Shame it turns grey and mushy so quickly.”
“All the more reason to make the most of it before it gets spoiled, but that’s probably true of most things.”
“That’s very philosophical,” Tosh commented, smiling.
“Three glasses of wine does that to me,” Lily giggled.
“Three glasses of wine usually just makes me giggly and then I fall asleep. We’re here.” Pushing open the door to the coffee shop, Tosh followed Lily inside and unfastened her coat. The small room was as warm as she’d promised it would be, and the ambience was so much nicer than at the bar. For a start, there weren’t drunken men roaming around looking for their next conquest.
They ordered the drinks and Tosh insisted on paying, saying it was only fair since coffee had been her idea. Finding an unoccupied table at the back, they took their coats off and settled down to enjoy their drinks, feeling the heat from the steaming cups thawing their chilled fingers.
“This was a good idea,” Lily said, relaxing in the comfy chair. “The bar was okay, but it was so loud you could barely hear yourself think, and it was getting really crowded. If it hadn’t been for you, I would’ve left by nine and gone home to my lonely flat.”
“I know how that feels, I do that practically every night, straight from work. I’ve been thinking of maybe getting a cat to keep me company in the evenings.”
“Oh, I love cats! Can’t have one where I live though; it’s strictly no pets. I’m not even sure a goldfish would be permitted.”
“Goldfish are relaxing to watch, but they’re not very good company.”
“No, not like a cat would be. I had a goldfish once, won it at a fair when I was seven or eight, but then my cat ate it.”
“I know! I was so upset, but I couldn’t be angry with my cat because it was my fault. I left my bedroom door open, otherwise she wouldn’t have got at my fish. Did you have pets when you were growing up?”
“Not really, but when I was little we moved to Kyoto; my father had accepted a position in the mathematics department of the university. I remember when summer came there were dozens of tiny lizards outside our house and I spent weeks trying to tame them. I tempted several of them into my room with scraps and made a home for them in an old fish tank. Then mum found out and she was so furious, I had to put them back outside. They were probably happier that way; it wasn’t really fair trying to make pets of them.”
“But you could still watch them.”
Tosh nodded. “For a while. But then it started getting colder and they vanished, hibernating somewhere. By the following spring we’d moved to Oxford because dad had taken a post as guest lecturer before accepting a permanent position on the staff there.” She took a sip of her coffee. “Maybe getting a cat wouldn’t be such a great idea. I mean, I’ve never really been responsible for a living creature. I even kill my houseplants.”
“Cats are easier to care for than plants. If your cat isn’t happy, you’ll know about it. You know, if you did decide you wanted to get one, I’d be happy to give you some advice, from the perspective of someone who’s been owned by several cats.”
“Actually, I was thinking getting the perspective of someone with previous experience might help me to decide one way or the other. You know, the pros and cons of living with a cat. It would be good to know in advance what I might be getting myself into.”
“I could definitely help you with that.”
Tosh bit her lip and took the bull by the horns, so to speak. “I know we’ve only just met, but would you maybe like to have dinner with me tomorrow night?” she asked, looking down into her coffee cup and blushing faintly, feeling nervous and hoping she wasn’t reading things wrong.
“You mean like… a date?” Lily glanced sidelong at her, gone suddenly shy again.
“Yes, exactly like that. I mean, it’s fine if you just want to be friends, but… I really like you.”
“I like you too.” Lily was the one blushing now. “And yes, I’d love to have dinner with you.”
Tosh slid her hand tentatively across the table towards Lily’s, their fingers brushed and twined together, and they grinned at each other. Tosh felt her heart skip a beat. She could scarcely believe she’d done this; gone out, chatted someone up, asked her out… Just a couple of days ago she never would have dreamed she could be so bold, but she’d taken Ianto’s advice, gathered every shred of courage she could muster, and now she had a date with someone she really did like a lot. This could be the start of something wonderful.
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