(1939-08-21) Getting to Know You
Details for Getting to Know You
Summary: Katie and Xander go on their first date.
Date: 21 August, 1939
Location: Hind's Fish and Chips, then a cinema house, then the Freighter Diner
Related: Death and Daisies

Xander's distraction did not go unnoticed at the office today. His co-workers found great humour in teasing him for being unable to tear his eyes away from the clock. Word had gotten around the tiny Spirit Division that Xander Tully had a date, which meant no end to the ribbing he was receiving. Plenty were curious about the identity of the girl, but he claimed gentlemanly privilege and kept mum about it. He certainly didn't tell anyone that she is a Muggle. With the way anti-Muggle sentiments have turned to violence recently, he'd much rather keep that on the down low for now.

The moment the clock struck five, Xander was out the door, taking the Floo home to quickly shower and dress down from his business robes to something more Muggle casual: Slacks and a blue cardigan, with his wand tucked into a deep pocket. So it is that he appears in the doorway of Hind's Fish and Chips, peering over the heads of a few customers in line, hoping to catch a glimpse of a particular head of red hair.

There is a redhead obvious among the crowd, but it's a boy, looking a few years younger than Katie, with enough of a resemblance to be identified at least as a relation. He's just finished wiping down a table, and turns, catching sight of Xander and immediately grinning. So this is the bloke that Katie's been going on about, the one come to take Jack's sister out on a date. The boy saunters over, skirting the customers waiting on their orders to take home for supper. He stops in front of Xander, giving the older wizard a very frank and open once over. He says nothing. But he does produce a slip of paper, on which is written in a fairly delicate hand Xander, please meet me in the alley. Jack will make sure I know you're here. There's a huff of breath from the young muggle, and he walks away in silence, to slip up the back stairs to alert his sister.

"Oh…um…thanks." Xander takes the paper, arching an eyebrow curiously at the quiet young man. Reading the note, his other eyebrow lifts. The alley? So be it. What the lady wants, the lady gets. He steps outside, turning first one way, then spinning round to the other to find the alley, stepping in off of the sidewalk. "Katie?" he calls out uncertainly. Is this a typical Muggle way of doing things?

There's a back stairway on the outside of the building, as well as the one inside, so family doesn't have to go through the restaurant every time they need to go in and out. In this case, for Katie, it's a way to avoid her parents. They reluctantly gave her leave to go out after some family discussion on how they've only seen the boy, not met him, and her leaving work early, but it was more something they felt obligated to do rather than strident objections. Having been signaled by Jack, Katie slips out the upstairs back door, her feet a staccato tapping as she descends the rickety wooden staircase.

When she hits bottom it's already with a smile on her lips. "Xander. Sorry about all the fuss," she apologizes hastily, "But I thought it best not t'disrupt things in there more than we had t'." She pauses, really looking at him, more casual than she'd yet to see him. Her own dress is in a lighter blue that compliments the shade of Xander's jumper, simply cut but well fitted. The style was all the rage last year, but Katie is counting on a boy not knowing that her dress is slightly out-dated. The waist of the dress is tucked in by a knotted red sash. "Look at us," she chirps, "don't we match well?"

Xander is lucky just to know that Muggles don't walk around in their pyjamas and a cravat. He hasn't a clue that her dress is anything but modern and lovely on her. "We do. You look amazing." He gazes admiringly at her for a moment, before snapping himself back to attention. "So, do you like comedy? They're having a special showing of 'The Mikado'. It's supposed to be very funny. It's that Gilbert and Mulligan show, but on film!" He offers her his arm to escort her out to the street to find a taxi cab.

"Ta," she responds to the compliment, only blushing lightly. Katie's brows rise, eagerness in her eyes at the suggestion. "I love comedy films. The Marx Brothers, 'ave yeh seen them?" As she talks she takes Xander's arm, tucking her hand cozily in the crook of his elbow. Then a thought strikes her, "Oh, an' I hope I had th'spellin' of yer name. I wondered if it was with a zed, but it's an X in Alexander, so I decided on that way. Jack agreed."

Xander nods, chuckling at the memory of seeing the Marx Brothers in 'Room Service' the year before. "They're hilarious. And yes, Xander with an X. It feels rather Greek, doesn't it?" As they reach the street, he lifts his hand to hail down a cab, which pulls up to the curb for them. He opens the rear door, offering a hand to help Katie inside. "So, Jack…that's the boy bussing tables in the shop? Is he your brother?"

"Well, it's just one more thing about yeh that makes yeh different, now innit?" Katie counters, her manner open. Her hand slides away from Xander's arm as they move to get into the cab, fingers warm in his for a moment before she's in and getting settled. She waits for Xander to get himself situated and give the driver directions before answering his questions. "Aye, that's my brother. I was five when he was added t'the family. I'll have a chance t'introduce yeh proper soon."

Xander climbs in and asks the driver to take them to the cinema. He gives Katie his tradmark lopsided grin, trying hard not to blush. Somehow, being in the enclosed space of the back of the cab feels rather intimate. "So that makes him…what…thirteen? Fourteen? He seemed nice. Sort of a quiet kid, isn't he?"

Katie doesn't make any particular effort to put distance between them, no more than she did at the park. "He's fourteen, an'… yes, sort of quiet. Our Jack was born deaf," she explains, something she's used to doing. "Only he does well for himself, he's handy an' sharp as a tack. We all learned sign language, an' he's got a tutor t'help in th' school he goes to. Th'shop'll be his, one day." There's clearly no, or at least very little, sibling rivalry between the pair.

Xander's brow goes up in surprise. "Deaf?" It isn't something he's often encountered in the wizarding world. "So, you can talk with just your hands? That's incredible. Is it hard? I mean…how many words can you really make with your hands?" His bashfulness is forgotten as his curiosity is piqued.

There's a pause, and Katie catches her lip between her teeth, before she answers both vocally and in sign. "Yeh'd be surprised how many. Sometimes it's not exactly th' word, but more the idea of th' word, so the same sign can be used in different ways." Particularly identifiable might be the sign for the word 'idea' itself. Her hand comes up near her temple, fisted loosely, and her index finger pops up, perhaps bringing to mind the old image of a lightbulb going on overhead to indicate an idea. She tries not to go too quickly, tempering habit with the desire for Xander to see the motions better.

Xander's mouth forms an open grin, fascinated at the ease with which she performs what seem like complex gestures to him. "You just said everything that you were saying out loud? That's fantastic." He tries to mimic one she emphasized. "Idea?" he queries, raising the wrong finger, and looking rather proud of himself.

It's clear that Katie's pleased with Xander's attempt, and she looks rather proud of him as well. But she does correct him, gently. "Almost it. Idea." She repeats the gesture, giving him an encouraging nod, "Have another go, then." His own interest isn't at all difficult to read on his face, and it gives Katie a kind of a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Xander laughs, only a little embarrassed, and corrects the gesture with the proper finger. "Idea. Like that? So, how do you say 'hello'?" He repeats the movement her, then asks more softly, "What about…'You are beautiful'?" He smiles hopefully, praying he's not pushing boundaries.

Katie nods, eager to confirm he's got it right, "That's exactly it." When he asks about hello, she shows him the simple sign, a sweep of her hand in a wave. His next request gives her pause again, but only for a moment, as her smile takes on something of a bashful cast. "You are," she repeats, pointing at Xander, "Beautiful." The sign she does for beautiful in reminiscent of an Italian gesture, except she doesn't kiss her fingertips. Her right hand lifts to near her mouth, not exactly fisted, but fingertips pressed together, and as she pushes her hand toward Xander her fingers splay.

Strength comes back into her smile as she goes on. "Only I would say, you are," again she points to him, "handsome." Right hand comes up flat, sketching a circle in front of her face that ends with her thumb up, clearly indicating face and good.

Xander watches carefully, mimicking the movements as she performs them. It's a bit disjointed at first, as he learns it. He begins to try it more smoothly, but her sign for 'handsome' gives him pause. He banishes a disbelieving smirk, allowing himself to smile, hopeful that she truly believes it. Again, he tries the sign himself, saying softly as his fingers splay toward her, "You are…beautiful. And I…I'm the luckiest bloke in London right now."

"I was gonna say next how important expression is in communicating, but… yer very expressive." Being naturally expressive herself, it's easy for Katie to convey much through face and body language along with the signs her hands make. It's also likely a good thing, because Xander's words make her lose her own for a minute, but her smile, her open posture toward him, speak for themselves.

"You're very expressive, yourself," Xander has clearly noticed. "Your smile is…sort of like a sunrise. It's no wonder you get so much business at your shop. All the blokes want to come bask in your smile." He smirks, just a hint of teasing there. "So what do you like to do, other than sell fish and go to the cinema?"

Katie isn't quite sure what to do with such compliments, even with the teasing note, so she bats one hand at Xander lightly. "Go on with yeh then." It's just a soft brush of her fingers against his arm, but Katie finds herself keenly aware of even the brief contact. "I… ah… I sing." It's not quite blurted, but it's taking her a second to get her thoughts back in order. "I sing an' I play the violin a bit. Mum thinks it's proper t' learn an instrument. I like havin' a laugh. A walk through a bit of nature. Like walkin' through t'park," she adds.

Xander is all too aware of the touch as well, and he privately counts it as a victory. "You sing and play? You know I'm going to want to hear you sometime. There's no escaping that now." He peers past her, out the window. "But, you're safe for now. We're here." He settles up with the cabbie before climbing out, once again offering his hand to help Katie out.

"Sometime," is the only quarter Katie will give for now, and her grin flashes as the cab pulls to a stop. "What brilliant timing," she says cheerily. When Xander has exited and extends his hand she slips hers into it, stepping out of the cab, her free hand lightly brushing her skirt straight, before they progress to get their tickets. Unless he pulls his hand away, hers will remain nestled in his as they find seats.

Again, they have brilliant timing, as they have a few moments to comment on the theater and comfort of the seats before the features start. Katie tries to concentrate, and does catch most of the fast moving jests in the film, but there's that awareness again, with their seats so close. She isn't one to talk through the film, but she does lean once or twice to whisper a comment about the scene. Once she says softly, "Cor, beheaded for flirtin'." She'd surely be losing her own head long about now, if that were so. And when she leans, her arm lightly presses to Xander's, shoulder nearly to shoulder but he's just that much taller it doesn't quite match. More like chin to shoulder as she whispers, then giggles softly as her attention focuses back on the screen. Mostly.

Xander finds himself emboldened more and more as the date gets off to an excellent start. But as a gentleman, he takes no liberties with that boldness, beyond holding Katie's hand and simply glowing with greater confidence. The once awkward, gawky youth is just beginning to realise that maybe he has matured into an attractive, collected young man. He laughs along with her through the film, taking any little comments in stride, leaning in to listen to them. On a couple of occasions, he is close enough to get a whiff of her hair, leaving him momentarily distracted. But Gilbert and "Mulligan" have his attention again soon enough, bringing him smiles, and an excuse to squeeze Katie's hand.


When the film concludes at last, Xander leads Katie out at a leisurely pace, in no hurry to beat the crowds. "I think that lived up to its reputation. So, are you hungry? There's this great little diner in Walworth."

Katie doesn't seem to mind the slow stroll that lets everyone else rush for the exits. "I think it was brilliant. I liked the decorated fans, so colourful." She nods eagerly to the prospect of lengthening the date as they'd talked about, not in a particular hurry to end the evening. "I'm feelin' a bit peckish. That sounds grand."

"I wonder if there is really a Japanese girl named Yum Yum," Xander muses aloud as they exit the theatre. He hails down another taxi cab, again going through the ritual of helping Katie in and directing the cabbie, this time to Walworth. Before long, they are stopped in front of a diner designed to look like an old train car. Xanders helps her out again, and once again keeps his hand in hers as he leads her to the restaurant. "It's no Hind's Fish and Chips, but it's got decent food." He gives her a playful smirk and opens the door for her.

It may be inelegant, but Katie's mouth actually hangs open a bit as she gets her first look at the outside of their destination. "It looks like a train!" she exclaims, displaying her keen grasp of the obvious. There's a soft squeeze to Xander's hand in her excitement, and she keeps hold of him as she enters the diner first. Her mouth still hasn't closed as her eyes dart around, taking in all the decorations and little nuances, like the light fixtures. "Cor," she breathes, "It's brilliant."

"Pretty great, isn't it?" Xander marvels at the place a bit, himself. He wants to tell her how places like this and the cinema remind him of how ingenious Muggles can be. But there is that whole matter of breaking international law. "Come on, the seats are just like in a train cabin. All that's missing is the countryside whizzing by." Naturally, he sees her seated first, and when a waitress comes over to bring water, he orders up some drinks. "So, I have a confession. I think a lot of things in the film went a bit over my head. I got that there were a lot of jabs at government and such. I'm just not very good about keeping up on those affairs."

Katie settles in, having no objection to Xander placing the drink order, still looking around until their conversation resumes. Her eyes still their darting about to focus on him, and his admission brings a soft laugh from her. "Was it very political then?" she asks. "I just thought it a good laugh, with some nice songs an' pretty costumes." Her eyes drop, and she needlessly reaches over to straighten the salt cellar. "I like that it made me forget about th'world an' everythin' that's goin' on. Like the world became just you, me, an' a funny film."

Xander gets a big, goofy grin on his face. "How do you do that?" He shakes his head in wonderment. "Somehow, everything you say is exactly the right thing to say to make a person feel good. That's quite a talent."

Again, Xander's words draw a blush into Katie's fair cheeks, and she ducks her head a bit. Her eyes look across at him from behind a fringe of lashes. "I'm sure not everythin'. Or maybe yeh just draw that outta me, with how kind an' funny yeh are." Tilting her chin back up, Katie looks at him directly across the table, smiling. "I'm sure tha's more it."

Now she's done it. That goofy smile is going to become a permanent fixture. Xander chuckles, shrugging. "I don't know about that. I've seen you with your other customers. Everyone seems to walk away happy. Even Black was slightly less grouchy than usual. You have no idea what a feat that is."

Katie's brows arch upward as she considers this. "Well… them's customers, aren't they? If yeh don't make 'em happy, then they won't come back. If they don't come back, Da's out of business." Her own slight shoulders shrug in unconscious imitation of Xander. "Tha's just makin' a livin'."

"Are you saying you're faking it at the shop? You seem pretty happy every time I see you. Which…to be fair, hasn't been that often." Xander sighs, leaning his cheek on his hand for a moment. "How did I go this long without wandering into Hind's? Maybe it's better. If you think I'm an awkward mess now, you should have seen me a year ago. Great, gangly goof, I was." He chuckles, keeping it light.

"Oh, I'm happy," Katie allows with a genuine smile. "It's just… well, I don't rightly know. Maybe just that bein' unhappy when customers are around just isn't done." Her head tilts a bit as his does, but his words bring a light indignation to her face. "Alexander Tully, who ever said I think yer an awkward mess, or a mess of any sort? Surely I haven't. I think yer grand." Maybe if she'd have thought about her words they wouldn't have been quite that frank.

"Oh, ah…sorry," Xander grimaces, but laughs lightly. "I didn't mean to put words in your mouth. Just…well, I am awkward. I don't have an easy time talking to girls. Although," he tone softens, along with his eyes, "You make it easier all the time. A love a girl that loves to laugh. I mean…I don't mean 'love'…I just mean…ah…" There's that akwardness, tripping him over his words.

Katie's brow eases as her smile returns at Xander's bit of stammering, and she doesn't hurry to speak, letting him stew for just a moment. Then she nods and relents. "Maybe just a bit awkward." It doesn't sound like she finds the trait unappealing. Like the bobbling around in the park as if he'd sat on an anthill, the awkwardness is endearing. He's certainly not so smooth that she feels like just another bird he's trying to pull.

Xander lowers his face in feigned shame (well, maybe not entirely feigned), and laughs. "Yeah. Sorry about that. But…I hope you're having a good time. I know I am. Oh!" He looks up as their drinks arrive, and the waitress asks them for their order. "Ah, I haven't even looked at the menu. But I know they've got a fantastic beef stew."

The redheaded muggle looks up to the waitress, then back across the table at Xander. "Stew sounds delicious, I'm willin' t'go with that on yer recommendation." Even if she's not sure how much room there is for stew in a stomach filled with butterflies. She may be a bit more adept than Xander at hiding her own awkwardness, but it's still there. And she can count the number of actual dates like this she's had on one hand, so she's not really in her element.

Xander's lack of dating experience is probably a little more obvious. But he makes up for it with sincerity. It isn't long before two bowls of stew are set before them, and the time slips by as they reminisce and laugh about the film. Xander does his best to sound witty, and occasionally succeeds. When the hearty beef stew has had a chance to settle, he orders a slice of cherry pie to share, insisting he couldn't possibly eat a whole piece himself. Digging his fork into the pie, he gazes across the table at Katie. "So…maybe I'm jumping the jinx here a bit. But, I'm going to ask you out again. Fair warning, and all that." He gives her a playful smirk. "I don't want to steal your time with your other friends, but…maybe the next time we both have some time off?"

It seems the butterflies weren't too much of an issue, or the stew was just that good, because Katie matches Xander bite for bite through the meal. She laughs often at his observations, adding her own viewpoint on different scenes. After Xander secures a bite of pie, Katie reaches to spear a cherry with her fork and pops it into her mouth. She considers a moment, her face as thoughtful as if she was deciding the fate of the world, and then she nods. "Alright then. T'be fair right back, I'll be sayin' yes. I'd like very much t'go out with yeh again, Xander." There's a huff of breath, not quite a snorted laugh, and she adds, "My friends will understand. I've spent enough time waitin' for them with their blokes, it's about time they get t'wait for me a bit."

Xander sits up so quickly that he makes a little hop in his seat, which sends him laughing at himself. "Brilliant! So, I'll give you a chance to look at your schedule, and come by the shop soon to sort it out, then." He cuts another bite of pie with his fork, then lifts it up toward Katie. "Here. The best bite is always in the dead center."

Katie giggles at the hop, delighted that he's that enthused. "My schedule never changes ever much, but I'd like yeh t'come by again, so I'll not tell yeh yet." She watches Xander as he holds the fork out toward her. She could just take the fork from him, but why do things the easy way? Instead she boosts herself up enough to lean over the table to meet the fork halfway. It's not a long, drawn out, 'hello sailor' moment, but more playful as she takes the offered bite and sits back, bringing her hand up to stifle a giggle as she 'mmmmmmm's appreciatively. As soon as she can speak without spewing pie, she does. "Ta. Pity there aren't two middle bites, so yeh could taste it as well."

Xander shrugs, still grinning like an idiot. "Cor, I love your laugh. I'm not sure I can eat another bite, though. That stew filled me right up." He sets down the fork, gesturing to the remainder of the pie. "All yours, if you want it." He signals the waitress to bring a cheque, fishing out his Muggle wallet full of Muggle money so he can buy Muggle things.

Katie looks longingly at the remainder of the pie. "I'm so full up, but I love cherry pie. It's sweet, an' tart, an' brilliant." Even as she's saying how full she is, she's reaching with her fork for just one more bite. She falls silent, closing her eyes to savor it, sighing deeply as she swallows and looks back across at Xander. "Thank yeh. It's been a lovely evenin', Xander," she says softly.

Xander asks for a little box to take the pie in while he pays. "Then cherry pie you shall have. Pie for breakfast is one of the best things in the world." As the waitress takes the pie to box it up for them, Xander rises, offering his hand to help Katie up. "I'm so glad you enjoyed yourself, Katie. If I can be candid, this is actually the first proper date I've planned myself."

A girl could get used to being so wonderfully spoiled, and the thought of pie in the morning only widens Katie's smile. She puts her hand in his and slips to her feet. "Is it? I think yeh did a fine job." There's just a touch of surprise in the question, despite his protests she would have thought Xander well versed in this. He's a handsome young man, after all.

"It is. Most of my time at school, I barely noticed girls. I think they were a little put off by the thanatology thing, anyhow." Xander shrugs, smiling to the waitress when she returns with the box, which he carries for Katie. "You're different, though. Special." Taking a cue from earlier in the evening, he keeps her hand held in his as they head out to the street. He keeps an eye out for a cab, but being in no great rush, strolls along the sidewalk until one rolls along.

Katie wouldn't say she hates learning that Xander hasn't had a dozen sweethearts, being light of experience herself. Even as close as she would walk to him, given that they're joined at the hands, Katie seems to stay just that little bit closer. She glances at him from the corner of her eye before her eyes drop and her head ducks a little, watching their feet. "You too," she says simply.

Xander looks over at Katie, and his steps slow, finally coming to a halt to face her. He doesn't say anything. He simply reaches for her other hand, just to hold onto her, eyes full of growing adoration and admiration. Just as the tension reaches that critical will-he-or-won't-he moment, he glances up, lifting a hand to get a cab driver's attention.

There's curiosity in Katie's eyes at first, as Xander draws them to a stop, but as their gaze holds her lips curve slowly back into a relaxed smile. She doesn't really expect a kiss, it's their first date and Xander has been such a gentleman. It's just comfortable for her, those moments with her hands in his, comfortable and solid. That doesn't lessen her disappointment when she has to release one of his hands, but she only releases one.

"Come on, let's get you home. I can't steal all of your time." No matter how much Xander would probably like to. Once again, the taxi ritual is repeated, and he climbs in after her, directing the cabbie to Hind's Fish and Chips. The ride is spent gazing at Katie, exchanging remembers quips and quotations from the movie, laughing all the way home.

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