Chapter 6: Caring

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            Fiona leaned back in her chair and felt guilty about the remaining half piece of toast, her concentration on the bacon and eggs having left her plate clear of them. She shook her head and looked at Meredith. "I swear I'm still full from all the stuff your mom was feeding us."

            Her roommate smiled. "She's good at feeding people so that they're full for days. I think it's her porridge."

            "Your break was good then?" Chay asked before popping the last piece of sausage into his mouth.

            Fiona nodded. "Mer's mom is really nice and pretty much adopted me. Your brothers are...interesting," she said, nodding at the selkie who only shrugged. "But it was a lot of fun. And I'm glad I got to see a bit of Scotland. I've always wanted to travel to another country so it was awesome. How was your guys' break?"

            "Fine. It was pretty normal," Chay replied.

            "Mom pulled pretty much the same thing with us. She thinks we're both too skinny and pretty much force feeds us." Perry said, his head propped up on one hand, a wicked grin lighting his face. "Of course, the highlight of the break was watching Chay ducking the girls from up the mountain. Thankfully there are only a handful who know to look for him down in our village, but those are the most persistent ones."

            Cheeks pink, Chay glared at his friend, whose grin only grew. Meredith giggled while Fiona smiled, ignoring the faint prickling of her stomach. "It's tough being popular, isn't it?"

            "They're not interested in me, only my family," he said, tossing his napkin onto his empty plate. Then he cleared his throat and turned to Fiona. "Since we don't have classes until tomorrow, would you like to go for a walk with me?"

            She smothered a smile at his obvious attempt to change the subject, the other two not bothering to hide their smirks, but nodded. "Sure, but me, Mer, and the twins are having a movie marathon this afternoon, so I need to get back before lunch."

            "That's fine," Chay said, already putting piling all of his dishes onto his tray. The others followed suit and soon all four of them were heading outside. Meredith and Perry separated from them, heading to their respective dorms, while Fiona followed Chay. He led her towards the sports fields.

            Her breath hovering around her face briefly before dissipating, Fiona was glad for her new jacket, one of the many purchases she'd made over the break. With the way the wind blew some days, she didn't think she'd have survived winter with her old one. Not without a lot of running between buildings at least.

            They took the path that snaked down towards the fields, the huge flat expanse buried under several inches of snow. There were only a handful of footprints out there which didn't surprise Fiona. Gym classes were being held inside in the ballroom turned gymnasium that was the size of four of their regular classrooms put together.

            "So you spent a lot of time with Meredith's family then?" Chay asked, distracting her from her meandering thoughts.

            Fiona smiled. "Yep. They pretty much made me a part of the family, which was nice. Heck, Mer's brothers are nicer to me than they are to her. Then again, they're still getting used to the new Meredith. They were still having trouble adjusting when we left."

            "Her brothers, they're older then?" Chay asked with a frown.

            "Yeah. Dylan's twenty-two and the twins are twenty-one. Adrian's probably my favourite of the lot. He at least has a sense of humour. Dylan's too much like his dad and Wyatt's kind of uptight. They're all also kind of jerks to Mer sometimes, which I didn't like much. Though with Mer sassing them back, they didn't know what to do so they might actually stop the next time she's home. I hope they do."

            Chay opened his mouth then closed it. He was quiet for a few moments before he finally said, "You didn't tell them about your... you know."

            Fiona rolled her eyes. Chay had to get comfortable with what she was. "No, I didn't tell them I'm human."

            He hushed her, glancing around like he expected someone to jump out any second. Fiona only made a face. It wasn't like there was anyone anywhere near them. It was pretty obvious the fields around them were empty. She wouldn't have said it otherwise. "Mer says her brothers gossip a lot, so I shouldn't say anything, so I didn't."

            Chay nodded and ran a hand through his hair. "You shouldn't tell anyone you don't have to. It's too easy for it to come out. And... Well, you can't really trust everyone to understand. Even if they seem nice or funny."

            Something about his tone of voice made Fiona glance sidelong at him. His expression was serious, his gaze hard. She hid a smile as she realized what he might be feeling. It was bad of her to feel good about him feeling bad, but it was nice to get the reassurance that he did care for her.

            Too often Fiona felt that she liked him more than he liked her. She knew she'd like things to progress beyond simple friendship, but had no idea if he felt the same. She knew he liked and trusted her, thought of her as one of his closest friends, the same way he did about Perry, but she wasn't sure if that would be enough for her. It was for now, but as time stretched on...

            Fiona sighed silently. She had no idea how she would even term their relationship anymore. One minute Chay would make it seem like they were something more than friends, the next he was treating her the same as he had when they'd first met. The claim thing made things weird too and she still really didn't understand all the implications of that. She thought maybe she'd better ask Meredith for another explanation, even though the selkie had admitted that she wasn't well-informed since her people never really got involved with it.

            Chay stopped after a glance at her. Fiona did the same, looking up at him. He reached out and gently touched her cheek. "I missed you."

            She smiled back, her cheeks coloured with more than cold. "I missed you too."

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