Hearing a song he liked come on the radio, A.J. cranked up the car's stereo as he sat back in the seat and put his feet up on the dashboard. He was waiting outside the theater for Katie, and he had been there for ten minutes already. He knew that these auditions usually ran late, so there was probably nothing wrong, but he was starting to lose patience.
A few minutes later, the front door opened, and Katie came hurrying out of it. A.J.'s bitter expression melted a little bit when he saw her approaching. Her long brown hair flew out behind her as she walked briskly, her long legs moving quickly. She was wearing workout shorts and an open zip-down sweatshirt over a tank top. Her purse bumped repeatedly against her hip with each step, and her face was set into a determined expression. A.J. couldn't help but smile. Things may have been getting tense between them lately, but she was still Katie if he ever knew her.
The car door opened quickly, and she immediately plopped down on the seat and shut the door again as A.J. turned off the music and put his feet on the floor. She reached for her seat belt and buckled it, not even looking at him.
"Hey," A.J. said after a little silence, keeping irritation out of his voice.
Katie finally looked over at him. "Hey."
"How'd it go?" he asked, managing a smile.
She shrugged. "They're calling me tomorrow night. I guess I'll find out then."
"Well, how do you think it went?" he persisted.
She shrugged again. "Don't want to jinx it."
A.J. nodded. "Fair enough. So do I get a hello kiss or what?" he teased.
Katie leaned over and obediently kissed him on the cheek, her face void of emotion. "Better?"
"Yeah," A.J. lied, reaching for his seat belt. "Wanna get out of here?"
"Sure," Katie agreed. "Can we get some lunch?"
"Sure. Mickey D's okay with you?"
Katie rolled her eyes. "Can we please go somewhere else for once?" she snapped.
"Fine," A.J. replied. "Where to, captain?" he muttered sourly.
Katie sat up straight in her seat and looked over at him. "What the hell, A.J.! I'm just getting sick of it, that's all!"
"Sorry!" A.J. said, starting the engine. "Jesus, Katie, I was just playing around with you."
"Well, you know what? I'm starting to find it a little hard to tell when you're being serious and when you're not," she shot back.
"Look, where do you want to go?" A.J. asked angrily, trying to change the subject.
"I don't care. Go to McDonald's if you really want to," she muttered, looking away.
A.J. turned towards her. "Katie!"
"What? I'm trying to be flexible for you!" she defended.
"Katie, where do you want to go?" A.J. asked.
"Wherever. But you know, there are lots of restaurants in good old NYC besides McDonald's," she reminded him.
A.J. sighed sharply. "All right, fine. Chinese food sound okay to you?"
"What then?" he asked, throwing his hands in the air.
"Seriously, A.J.! Chinese food sounds great!" she replied.
"Fine!" Katie echoed, looking out the window.
A.J. clenched his teeth as he moved the car away from the curb and out onto the street. He was getting all pissed off again. No, this was not how he was going to make things work out between them. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to calm down. "So anyway, Howie and Taylor gave us their news."
Katie brightened a little. "Oh, yeah. What was it?"
"Aw, really?" she asked, actually smiling.
A.J. nodded. "Did you see that one coming or what?"
"Yeah...but that's so good for them," she said.
"Sure it is. But you know what that means," A.J. went on.
Katie frowned. "No, I don't."
A.J. looked at her. "It means that I'm going to be the only legally single Backstreet Boy left. And you know what that means."
Katie's content expression turned sour. "Everyone's going to be asking us if we're going to get married," she realized glumly.
A.J. sighed. "Bingo."
Katie shook her head. "Damn it."
"Well, what do you think? We might as well talk about it, since they're gonna be asking us about it," A.J. reasoned.
"What do you mean, what do I think?"
"What do you think about getting married? Do you think we should?"
"Do you think we should?"
"Honestly? I have no idea," A.J. said, shaking his head.
"Good. Because I don't think we should," she said.
"A.J., it's not like we're Kevin and Linz's age. I'm twenty-three, and you're twenty-five," she pointed out.
"What does that matter?" he asked. "I gave you the promise ring...and that means that we're going to stay together anyway. So we might as well do it."
"See? That's why I don't want to. 'We might as well do it.' When I do get married, I want there to be a motivation behind it. Not just...well...we have nothing else to do...so yeah, I guess we should tie the knot," Katie said.
"I didn't mean it like that," A.J. protested.
"But you did. Do you really want to get married right now? No. If you did, then we would have talked about it before now," Katie pointed out.
"Well, what are we going to tell people then? Because you know they're going to ask us," A.J. said.
Katie shrugged and looked out the window, losing interest in the conversation. "We'll think of something."
"Look, J, I'm really tired from the audition, and I don't want to talk about this now, all right?"
A.J. glanced over at her before he sighed and gave in, not wanting to get into another fight. "Okay, fine," he agreed sourly.
Katie turned back to look at him when she heard his tone of voice. Seeing that she had
annoyed him, she opened her mouth to say something, but at the last minute changed her mind
and turned back to look out the window again. After being with him for so long, it felt like it just
didn't matter anymore.