Katie sat in her car, watching as clouds from the exhaust pipe filtered up into the air. She didn't usually leave her car running, but it was so damn cold out, and Delia still hadn't left.

She flushed a little, wishing that she could just see her boyfriend without his mother judging them, but honestly, keeping it out Delia's sight was just easier for all involved. She blew on her hands, wishing she hadn't left her gloves at Ned's when she'd snuck out two days ago. It had been a long weekend, but it was Sunday night, and it was time to return to reality.

She had class in the morning, and it was already nearing five. She usually tried to leave by five, since Monday always meant a morning class, but she was breaking all the rules tonight. She just wanted to spend her last moments in Grandview in Ned's arms. Her mom had already made plans with Delia and Tim for Saturday night, but Katie had begged Melinda to make up an excuse to change it to Sunday night, and Delia had amiably changed up her plans.

Melinda had promised to keep Delia occupied at least until eight, and that was more than enough time to do what Katie wanted. Besides, eight was really the last possible time to leave if she wanted any chance of sleeping tonight.

She drummed her fingers against the steering wheel, and finally, Delia and Tim left their place, getting into her car and driving off.

Katie gave it a good thirty seconds before she pulled forward into their driveway, hopping out as Ned came out the door.

"I'm sorry," he apologized. "She couldn't find her earrings, and she had both of us looking."

"It's fine," she said, teeth chattering. "You have my gloves, right?"

"Yeah, they're inside," he said, ushering her indoors before he tried to kiss her. His hands landed on her waist, and he pushed her against the closed door, kissing her lips.

Katie kissed him back hungrily, knowing that times like these were too far and few in between. She just wanted alone time with him, especially after how weird it had been lately. She knew things were strained but...she just wanted him.

She could have voiced her worries, but instead she deepened the kiss when Ned started to pull away. He murmured his acquiescence, and they began the long journey upstairs to his room, barely breaking their kiss before they were inside, slamming his door shut.

Katie pulled away, beginning to take her coat off. She was finally beginning to warm up; thankfully Delia having a smaller house meant that the heat actually worked at Ned's. Winters at her parents house always meant piling on yet another sweater, and burying oneself under blankets.

At Delia's, you could actually walk around in short sleeves once your body adjusted from the freezing temperatures outside. She always kept it toasty.

Ned was imitating Katie, tugging his pullover off, and kicking out of his shoes and jeans before he came over to help her. "I thought we were just going to hang out," he teased, leaning to nip at her neck before helping her with the buttons on her sweater.

"This is hanging out," Katie rebutted, sliding out of her own jeans, and soon enough, they were both nude.

Usually there was a little bit more romance, usually they took just a little bit more time to admire one another, but today, Ned had picked up on Katie's energy, and they went straight for it. He settled them both on the bed, his body moving over hers as they kissed. He made sure, as he always did, that she was more than wet enough before he grabbed the condom from his bedside table, and slid it onto his member.

She gazed up at him with wide eyes, moaning as he entered her. She'd never get used to this, never get bored of how it felt to have Ned Banks between her legs. It was just too good.

He stroked in and out, muttering something incoherent about how wet she was, and Katie clenched her pelvic muscles in a move that made him cry out, gasping at how good it felt.

She repeated the gesture, and after a few more times, he came inside her, shattering, and finally collapsing on her, panting. "Katie, fuck," he whispered, kissing her shoulder. "Fuck me."

"I think I just did," she teased back, and he smacked her ass with his hand, lightly bouncing before grabbing a handful.

His fingers slid down her belly, sneaking between her thighs to make her come for the second time, and once she was a shaky mess, and he'd gone to the bathroom to dispose of the condom, he came back, climbing in bed with her. They lay silently, her head on his chest, his hand playing with her hair.

"So," he began, clearing his throat. "When are you driving up next?"

She bit her lip, knowing he wouldn't like her answer. "Not for at least a month," she admitted. "I have to work the next few weekends, I need the money. I know I could ask my parents to spot me, but with Christmas coming up, it just feels responsible."

Ned just nodded, but she could see the tightness in his face that appeared. "I mean, you could still drive up to spend the night Friday or something," she hurried to say. "I'll just have work the next day."

She knew it was useless to propose such a thing. While Ned was more than willing to make the trip, he wasn't going to come for just a night, or worse, spend the day alone in the city. It wouldn't be worth the time in the car, and Katie knew that asking him would probably just turn into a guilt trip.

"There's always Christmas," she reminded, and he nodded, holding her closer again. They fell silent, and Katie felt a lump rise in her throat.

She didn't want to go. She never wanted to leave Grandview on Sunday nights, but tonight, things just felt off. She couldn't even give Ned an answer for when he'd see her again, and it just felt...final.

It felt like there was no guarantee over what would happen when she left tonight.

She held back any negative emotions, just letting herself lay on his chest, feeling his heart beat. She just wanted one night with him, a couple hours of silence and cuddling. Then she'd have the heart for the long drive back to the city.

New York City was really wearing on her. On the one hand, she really did love it. School was amazing, and she really didn't have any complaints when she was there. Being back at home for a weekend, though...that was becoming increasingly hard to fit in, and it was becoming ever more painful when she had to leave Sunday nights.

She knew what she wanted, and she'd already begun talking to the counselors at NYU and Rockland U about a transfer, but she didn't want to talk about before it was official, so she'd stayed quiet about it around Ned and her parents.

Besides, as much as she was doing for them, she wasn't doing it for them. She was doing it to try and help the pain in her heart whenever she left, and the overwhelming guilt whenever she drove down the highway to the city, knowing that she was missing out on milestones in her siblings' lives. She knew it was foolish, she knew that older children growing up and moving out was part of life, but she also knew...it didn't have to be part of hers. She could spend the last two years at home, and she could be around her family, and maybe the tightness in her chest would ease a little. She could spend time fixing her relationship with Ned, and seeing if they could really make a go of this.

She wasn't sure what their future held, but she knew she'd never forgive herself if they didn't really, truly give this a try to see if it would work out.

As the night wore on, Katie got a text from Melinda. I've held Delia just about as long as I can, this is your thirty minute warning

Katie thumbsed up the message, and showed it to Ned. They both started to dress, both silent. Ned seemed to have picked up on her mood, or maybe he was having a mood himself, because suddenly neither of them were lingering. Ned ran down to start her car as she finished putting her clothes on, and he reappeared in the bedroom a moment later, her gloves in hand.

She slipped them on, and they walked down the stairs. It just felt so final, and it shouldn't. She wanted to cry, she wanted to let out the horrible tightness in her chest, but instead she brushed her lips against his cheek. "I'll text you when I'm back," she whispered, and he nodded, giving her a real kiss before they walked outside and she got in her car.

She looked in the rearview mirror as she drove away, and her heart pinched to realize that Ned hadn't waited until she was out of sight to go back inside. She understood why; it was fucking cold outside, but it hurt nonetheless.

She glanced down at her gloved hands, and wanted to cry, but instead she turned Adele's new album up loud on her car stereo, and let the woman's powerful vocals carry her away.

She had a long drive back to the city; she couldn't afford to start crying now.