Spacer A Conversation in the Kitchen 147
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    I blinked again. "I do trust you. I mean," I hesitated then, trying to figure out how to put it in such a way as to reassure her. "You've obviously changed a lot in the past few months. I think we just don't always see a situation the same way, and that's caused some problems. And I'm not used to working with other people, either—not like they gave us any training, or something useful like that—so I know I've overreacted a couple of times." I finished my coffee and gave her a direct look. "I guess I'm trying to say you should stop apologizing for the past. Your actions lately speak for themselves."
    She was quiet for a long time. "Forgive me for saying this, but for someone who has had an awful lot of people in her life turn out to be something other than what they appeared, I would think that I would be the last person in the world you would trust. I mean... ." She took a deep breath. "What you said means a lot to me—probably a lot more than you could realize given your lack of real knowledge about my life and who I am." She kept fiddling with her mug, twisting it by the handle until a bit slopped out on the floor. "Oops. Do we have any paper towels?"
    I fetched them for her. TK comes in very handy for things like this. "Here. And the trust thing works both ways. You have little reason to trust me," I reminded her with a smile. "And if I couldn't trust you, I think I'd know by now. Especially after last week." I had to suppress a shiver. Time for more seriousness, or she was never going to believe me, and we'll never get this worked out and be able to work together the way we have to. I looked down, then up at her. "Look. I'm not going to lie and say I'm comfortable with your history. But even if that hadn't been legally figured out, you've still impressed me as making a serious effort to change, which takes courage, and I respect that. You seem to be having a hard time believing me, but...." I shrugged. "I suspect there's some things we'll never see eye-to-eye on, and that's fine, but I don't see any reason we shouldn't, with a little more practice, be able to work pretty well together."
    She mopped up the spill rather than look at me during that little speech, although she did chuckle a little—if grimly, then said,"First, I can't think of why I wouldn't trust you. Second, I can't say I'm exactly comfortable with most aspects of my history either... anymore. But I don't think you should channel too much of your 'respect' my way. Most of my abilities to control my temper and modify my actions have more to do with my bond with Chandler than with any real new finesse or understanding of human interaction and appropriate behavior on my part. See, I even sound like him!" She smiled more warmly than usual. "What, by the way, don't you think we see eye-to-eye on? I mean, I'd like to know a little more about you. If you feel comfortable talking about yourself in any capacity, that is." She refilled her cup, glanced at me. "More?"
    "Thanks." I accepted the refresh and told her, "You should probably give yourself more credit—I mean, you wanted to change, or you'd never have talked to him, right? And he certainly thinks you're worth the effort. As for me" I smiled wryly, "that presents some obvious difficulties. Maybe this should wait 'til I get back? There's some things I want to think about for a while." Again I managed to keep a rein on that defensive part of me that wanted to tell her to back off. The problem, of course, is that the vast majority of what other people use as "getting to know you" talk doesn't apply to me—I had one, pretty unexciting year of life before I joined the team. On the other hand, sometimes I wonder if I should just tell her that getting to know someone usually happens without anyone having to work at it nearly as hard as she seems to want to, and that being teammates doesn't mean that we necessarily have to be best of friends. She seems to really want and need a friend—I'm just not sure that it should, or can, be me. There's so much I don't know about myself.
    Lucky smiled at what I said about Chandler, then shrugged. "I can understand that. Take all the time you want. If you ever want to talk I'd be happy to get to know you better." She sipped her coffee meditatively. "You know. You remind me, in a strange way, of someone I once knew. Which is odd. Because you're really nothing alike. Except that you make me like myself," she added with a smile. "Thanks."
    "You're welcome. Game?"
    She grinned. "Sure! As long as you think your ego can handle a bruising..."
    She beat me again.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson