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Author's Chapter Notes:

This was inspired by the producer's cut of Branch Closing. Plus, Ryan and Kelly fascinate me. (This was originally an attempt at drabble, but is about 300-something words too many. I got a little verbose.)

Disclaimer: I don't own them....unfortunately.

He hooks up with her on February 13th. The next day, the whole office is covered in hearts. She catches his eye and claps her hands when he walks in. He realizes his mistake and tries to blow her off – but she looks so hopeful that it’s difficult.

She calls him every day, runs her hands through his hair every time she walks by his desk. He gets a haircut.

The color pink somehow starts to invade everything he owns. He wakes up one morning with glitter in his hair. He buys a new vacuum and doesn't return her calls for 5 days.

His friends inexplicably like her, think she's funny. They love when she comes out with them, babbles about nothing all night long, holding onto him the whole time. One night his friend asks him if he could ask her out sometime: he's relieved and says sure. He throws up when he gets home. He must have drunk too much. She turns his friend down anyway.

He's outright mean to her a few times, and can never look her in the eye afterward. Her crying reminds him of what a jerk he can be. Then she mentions babies, and he starts all over again.

She's particular about what she drinks, what she eats, and what they do. But her skin is soft and when she kisses him, she isn't talking. There are enough quiet times to stop him from doing what he thinks he should.

They go out on a double date with Pam and that cartoonist. He hates ketchup, but she feeds it to him anyway. She leans close, wrapping her arms around his; her head rests on his shoulder. He tries to ignore how good she smells, how warm she feels. He wakes up the next morning with glitter in his hair again. Maybe he likes ketchup, sometimes.

He decides to try at the Diwali celebration. The outfit she bought him is surprisingly comfortable. Her parents hate him and her sisters make fun of him, but she looks so...exotic and she smiles at him all night.

Then the branch is closing, and he has his chance. He halfway means it when he says they could have been something special, and she takes it so well he's almost disappointed.

When the news comes that they're remaining open, he actually feels happier than he's been all day. She ambushes him in the kitchen; he'll have a handle shaped bruise on his back later, but he can't will away his smile. In the car on the way to Poor Richard's, he notices a trace of pink on the side of his mouth. He listens to her chatter from the passenger seat, a manicured hand glued to his leg, and decides to leave it.


He can't explain why.



Bennie is the author of 28 other stories.
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