Word Count: 1,399
Pairing/Focus: Kara, Zak
Kara laughed as she rolled through the Caprican grass just behind the house. Lords, she was going to be a mess, but what had started as a simple tutoring session had turned into an unfair tickling match. Personally, she felt that Zak was just trying to get out of learning Trig, but whatever his reasoning his distraction had proved effective. Kara was now laughing so hard that she couldn’t have set up a formula if she’d wanted to.
“Enough,” she called out as his hand settled on her sides, just below her armpits. “C’mon, Zak, we’re never going to get this done!”
“We’re getting it done,” he joked, and she watched the telltale waggling of his eyebrows as he turned his attack towards ticklish sides.
Enough was enough, Kara decided, and she flipped herself onto her stomach, arms pinned to her sides. Let him try to tickle that, she thought. She was very proud of herself… right up until he grabbed an ankle and her shoe went flying. Oh, frak! If her sides were ticklish, then her feet were worse. She did her best to kick, wiggle, anything to free herself. But Zak was built every bit as heavily as Lee, and he’d learned his wrestling holds from the same man. Kara wanted to kill that man!
Finally she managed to get one knee beneath her and kick out with her bare foot. The goal had been to dislodge him, but the grunt of pain was more than she’d intended. Zak fell clear, clutching his side, and Kara was immediately contrite. He’d only been playing, after all. He wouldn’t have hurt her; he never did. He just didn’t always know when a joke should end. He wasn’t like Lee, who didn’t have a bit of fun in him since they’d made it into the advanced mathematics classes. Hell, Lee wouldn’t even tutor his own brother, saying it was a waste of time because Zak wouldn’t take it seriously; he should take music instead of Math. At the moment, Kara thought Lee just might have a point.
Zak hadn’t been serious for more than ten seconds since they’d started the session. The house was too hot, so they went outside. The bench hurt his back, so they moved to the grass. Kara was too serious, so he’d taken care of that. Three years her junior, teaching him was more of a challenge than she would have imagined. But that didn’t mean she wanted him to get hurt.
“Are you okay?” she asked with some urgency as she watched him roll to one side, clutching the other.
“Do I look okay?” he asked.
“I’m sorry,” she told him honestly. “I told you to stop. You know not to mess with my feet.”
“I do now,” he admitted ruefully.
“I really am sorry.”
“Yeah, I know,” he said, and he was smiling regardless of the pain he was in. That was Zak; always a smile. He had a way of making every day seem worth the time. She just wished he’d buckle down on his studies. He said he wanted to make it into college, but if he didn’t get his math grades up, it wasn’t going to happen.
Without really thinking about it, Kara reached for the tails of his shirt and pulled the material up to see how much damage she had done. Well, he was going to have quite a bruise; that was for sure. While he “ouched” and dodged her fingers, she felt the ribs to be sure that nothing was moving that shouldn’t be. She really didn’t think she’d broken any ribs. “Can you breathe okay?” she asked, remembering her own bout with broken ribs the year before. Hardballs and ribs didn’t go any better together any better than feet and ribs.
He took a deep breath, grabbing her hand to still it. “Yeah, I can breathe,” he said quickly. “I’m okay, Kara. That’s enough. Let’s get to work.”
She blinked rapidly at the change in attitude. So much for the slacking teenager she’d just been trying to teach. Glancing at his expression, she found it was totally serious, and his face was bright red. “You sure you’re okay?” she asked again. Was he mad? Was he really hurting that much?
He turned his body to its side, rolling away from her to sit painfully upright and reach for the grass-stained textbook they’d lost amongst the play. He held the book firmly on his lap, and looked back over at her. “Where’d we leave off?” he asked.
Still confused, she rolled her eyes and grabbed the notebook from behind her, and then searched the grass for their pencil. They were lucky neither had been impaled while rolling about. “Alright,” she told him, grabbing the textbook and tossing it on the ground in front of them as she sat closer to him. He inched away… she inched closer… what the hell was wrong with him? “Sit still,” she ordered, balancing the notebook between her right leg and his left. She used the pencil to indicate the problem she’d copied earlier.
While she tried to explain, she became aware that Zak was inching further away, again. With more exasperation than usual at his incomprehensible behavior, she reached for the notebook that was now only on her leg, and as she turned to put it back she caught a glimpse of his lap… and she knew what the problem was.
“Oh,” she muttered uselessly.
Zak looked down, blushed brighter, and lifted his left leg to block certain parts of his anatomy from view. “Well, what do you expect when you mess around under my shirt,” he muttered, pulling the textbook closer. She couldn’t tell if he was angrier at her or at himself.
“I didn’t mean to…” she began, but she couldn’t finish it. “Zak, I just wasn’t thinking,” she told him. “I guess sometimes I forget you’re…”
“A boy?” he asked in irritation. “News flash!”
“No,” she corrected, her own cheeks coloring. “Not… a relative,” she finished lamely. “Zak we spend so much time together – have lived in the same house for so long – that I guess I don’t think that way. Hell, we’ve slept in the same bed more times than I can count!”
“Yeah, but that was before…” He didn’t finish.
“Before what?” she asked, crossing her legs and turning to face him. “Talk to me, Zak,” she begged. “I may act like a guy half the time, but I’m not one,” she reminded him. “I don’t know what you’re thinking, or feeling.”
He looked sideways, glared at her, and then rose up on his knees. Taking her face in his hands, he leaned forward and kissed her, hard. It was… a little rough, pretty wet, and… different.
Kara wasn’t used to kissing. Most of her dates had been more interested in a good partner for cards or sports than necking afterwards. This was… unexpected. Not bad, she decided, but just out of nowhere. She’d had no clue Zak felt anything more than… well, whatever family relationship they shared. And yet here he was…
When he raised his head, he looked down into her eyes, and the question there was enough to break her heart. She’d heard the expression “heart in his eyes,” but never before had she seen it. She was holding his heart right now, and what she said and did would make an impact. He was a good kid, she reminded herself. He was sweet, and funny, and yeah a little younger than her, but three years wasn’t so much. So she did what she thought was right, and she raised up to kiss him – not as wet, and not as hard, but a nice kiss just the same.
When she was done, she smiled. “Now,” she told him. “Trig. Let’s get this done.”
“So we can do something else?” he asked hopefully.
She had to laugh. “Maybe,” she told him, but she ruined the mystery with her wink.