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all the bright precious things

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Bakugou hated formalities, he did them, he was not an animal, but that did not make the fact that he hated them any less true. If anything, Bakugou believed that he was showing god-like levels of control the more time he spent in the city. The fact that he had not punched Shindou yet, was a stellar example of his restraint. He and Momo had grown up together and he had actually been happy to receive an invitation from her when he had moved back, but her husband he could do without.

The only thing that made the mess of the dinner more bearable was Jirou.

“ So Bakugou, tell me about your new place, a far cry from your french chateau no doubt.”

He scoffed as he cut through his duck, “ I hated those pompous houses anyway, I don’t need that much space,” he smirked as he brought a bite to his mouth, “And the smaller the place the less chance of my mother coming to stay with me when she visits.”

Jirou smiled and took a sip of her wine, Momo and Shindou apparently were not worried about their servants reporting anything, not that anything was going to happen to them even if somebody did snitch. Laws did not really matter when you had enough money to buy D.C.

“ Must be exciting though, living next to the Todorokis with all of their parties.”

Immediately there was a shift in the air, both Shindou and Momo who had been eating in silence, stilled and Momo looked up with wide eyes.

“ The Todorokis?”

Jirou nodded at him, “ They live right next door to Bakugou’s new place.”

Bakugou frowned, “ That big mansion? I haven’t heard of any parties but I’ve only moved in officially two days ago. I thought it was empty.”

“ It’s not. Every weekend there’s a huge party. It’s all anybody could talk about this summer.”

There was scoff from Shindou, “ That’s all new money could do anyways. Party and spend money.”

Bakugou wanted to comment but he was interrupted by Momo, who turned to Jirou with a small smile, “ Jirou, you didn’t tell us about that show you went to last week.”

The rest of the night was spent with Shindou recounting tales of his school days, and the more interesting stories of Jirou and her favourite jazz parlour. Momo was nothing but a gracious host, smile easy and laugh light. But Bakugou was not an idiot and he had noticed the tense line of her shoulders and neck. But then again, he would be tense too if he had to spend the rest of his life with someone like Shindou.

He would be the first person to complain about the overbearing nature of his mother, but he was grateful to his parents. They were not the kind to force their only child into a marriage. He glanced at Momo’s long dark hair, which she had refused to cut to match the popular style, his parents were a luxury that not all got to have.

****

Bakugou saw them for the first time that night. He was about to enter the small cottage he had rented for the summer, when from the corner of his eye, he spied them. He saw him first, a lone figure in a well tailored suit standing at the end of the neighbour’s dock. He was absolutely still, as if frozen in time. Bakugou was so focused on him he failed to notice the second figure walking towards the end of the dock.

The night was dark, and the lights of the dock were dim, that coupled with the distance made it so that Bakugou could not see more than their silhouettes, but that was enough to see that the second figure was a woman. She was shorter, considerably so. She walked to the end of the dock towards the man, but she stopped right before she reached him. She did not stand by his side or touch him, seemingly content to stare at his back, unmoving. It was late, he narrowed his eyes in an attempt to better see them, when the woman turned in his direction.

Bakugou could see her hand rise in the air and wave at him, the action surprised him and almost instinctively he raised his hand and waved back. She turned again and remained at the back of the man. He could not tell if they were talking or not. All he knew was that by the time he had prepared himself for bed and was closing all the curtains of his house, he could see from the window that they had not moved.

 

The next morning, he found an invitation to the next Todoroki party in two days.

****

Bakugou had spent most of his life in Europe, something he was grateful for. Yes, it was primarily because of the family design business but he suspected that his mother hated the socialites that she grew up with as much as Bakugou hated their kids now. His summer in the city was him trying to spend time away from his parents, yes, but it was also meant to be a break before he had to go back and take over the business. As a result, all the people he knew in the city were spoiled assholes he had not seen in at least ten years.

He had nobody to take to the party but Jirou.

She was originally Momo’s friend, yes, but honestly he did not feel guilty stealing her for a night. He could have of course just not shown up, or shown up alone, but Bakugou was curious and he also hated parties and crowds. So Jirou was the best option. They entered through the large double doors of the mansion, the house was huge but the space already felt suffocating with the amount of people there. It seemed as if half the city had made an appearance, this was definitely the kind of event where nobody cared who you are, not because of a lack of societal prejudice, but because everyone seemed too drunk to care if they were mixing with the working class. Alcohol of all kinds flowed, the entirety of the entrance hall was filled with cigarette smoke and Bakugou had already seen at least three pairs and the one triad doing very inappropriate things; fine degeneracy if he had ever seen it.

Jirou stretched so her mouth was next to his ear, hot air ghosting against his skin, “ That’s them over there by the staircase.”

His eyes glided across the crowd before spotting them, they were striking enough that it was almost impossible to miss them. Shouto Todoroki was a striking man, who cut an impressive figure in a well fitting black suit. He was tall and broad shouldered, hair gelled back to fully show the scar he had over one eye.

“ They said he got it in the war.” Jirou whispered.

On Todoroki’s arm however was his wife. Ochako Todoroki seemed to be the exact opposite of her husband in every way. While her husband was tall, all sharp lines and still eyes, she was short, all soft strokes and gentle curves. She was dressed in the flapper style like every other woman but while Jirou represented everything about this new age, and Momo seemed to be trapped in the golden past; untouched by trends and changes, she seemed to almost be in costume, like this was not the real her; but a mask she could drop and switch. She was greeting people, eyes bright and smile wide, she radiated joy and seemed to welcome everybody with the exact same enthusiasm.

“ They say it's a modern fairy tale, the disowned son and a working class girl.”

That made him turn, Jirou could see the surprise in his eyes and she took a sip from a champagne glass that Bakugou had not seen her get.

“ He got disowned before the war, then he dropped off the face of the earth, only to come back with a beautiful normal wife and a lot of money. People say she’s from Iowa or something.”

Bakugou’s eyes drifted back to the couple, Todorki Shouto seemed to want nothing more than to disappear, which Bakugou could relate to, but Ochako was talking excitedly with a short stout man that Bakugou could swear looked like a senator. She seemed to feel his eyes on her because she looked up at him, their eyes met and Bakugou was surprised at the true mirth he saw in them. The corner of her mouth lifted in a smug smile and she nodded at him, before bringing her attention back to the man. Bakugou was certain he was a senator.

He caught them a few more times during the night, mostly together but sometimes apart. They did seem to always drift towards each other at the end. At one point he had been separated from Jirou only to spot her across the room talking to their hostess. Their heads were bent together and Jirou seemed to have a small frown on her face but it quickly faded away to a small smile before she nodded and they walked away from each other. Bakugou was about to make his way across the room to question Jirou but her short ass was quickly swallowed by the crowd, which had only gotten bigger since the beginning of the night.

Bakugou could feel his anxiety rising being surrounded by more and more people, he broke free from the crowd and made his way up the stairs. By the time he reached the second floor, he could already feel the music drift further and further away and the people became less and less as he made his way through dark corridors. The only people he saw after a while were couples in dark corners, who he ignored just as he saw the servants ignore them. He supposed that there had to be some sort of security to prevent thieves. He spied a light at the end of the hallway, where the door was left ajar. The room seemed to be some sort of study, illuminated faintly with a soft golden light from a desk lamp, the shelves were piled with books and other oddities. At the far end of the room was a telescope, positioned in front of a large window. Bakugou instantly felt at ease, the room felt like a pocket of peace in the middle of all the chaos. He made his way to the window and cracked it open, allowing the crisp night air to sneak in and chase away the smell of tobacco that had stuck to his clothes. From this side of the building he could actually see across the grounds of the house to his little cottage. He knelt and squinted to see through the eyepiece of the telescope, it was already positioned and he could see the stars but he was not sure what constellation it seemed to be fixed on.

“ I didn’t peg you as a star enthusiast.”

He turned towards the door, where she stood. “ I wouldn’t call myself an enthusiast. I was just curious.”

Ochako hummed and moved closer to him, her short brown hair shifted in colour from dark brown to a warm auburn in the golden light of the room. The faint light did obscure some of her face in shadows but her eyes sparkled mischievously and he could see more of her now that a giant hall was not in between them.

“ I wanted to thank you for the invitation.”

She pursed her lip before walking to stand next to him and shifting the telescope carefully. “Ofcourse, we make an effort to get to know our neighbours.”

He could feel the warmth of her, through the small space between them. She knelt down to look through the telescope before standing up again, “ I come here when I want to be alone, these parties are fun but sometimes you just need to be in your own company, you know?”

It was the sort of thing he felt in the regular and that he expected to hear from her husband, the hunch he had that she seemed to be constantly adapting to the people downstairs seemed to be more and more true.

“ I can leave if you want.” He stepped back and further away from her.

She shook her head and her hand extended to lightly touch his forearm. “ Don’t. Stay.”

She was so close, he noticed how round her face was, her eyes were no longer sparkling but were overtaken by a sort of heady darkness. She stepped closer to him and his heart stilled in his chest. He did not know if it was the glass of champagne he had or her proximity, but he felt a heat wash over him, and his head felt almost swollen with her perfume, and her eyes and her warmth. Her eyes drifted down to his lips before they met his eyes again, her gaze was piercing and Bakugou felt like he was looking at himself from outside of his body. He had always been proud of all his actions, sure of all his movements but something about thsi women disarmed him; he could not remember how they had gotten here; all he knew was that something inside of him did not care anyway.

She stretched upwards and her breath fanned across his face. There was a creak from the door that woke him up from his stupor. He quickly took a step back and turned to see who it was that interrupted them. There in the doorway stood Todoroki. He did not seem to be surprised to see them, he stared at Ochako with an almost indifferent look, and it was only when his eyes drifted to him that Bakugou was jolted to motion. He crossed the room in long strides and passed Todoroki as he left through the door. Something in his gut told him he should stay away from the couple, and he always trusted his gut.

He needed to find Jirou and leave.

 

****

However, it seemed that the couple did not want to stay away from him, because in the morning, Shouto Todoroki stood on his doorstep. Bakugou tensed but all the man did was ask him if he could come in.

Todoroki was dressed in a light grey suit, the lines of which were softer than the one he wore yesterday, it did nothing to hide his impressive build. Bakugou was not used to seeing somebody in his space, the cottage was extremely clean, but the image of the man in his living room made it seem as if it was not his own. Todoroki seemed like the kind of man who commanded every room from afar, but standing right next to him, Bakugou could see that he was more a silent observer.

“ Look, about last night..”

Todorki turned to him, “ There’s no need to apologize.”

Bakugou closed his mouth but he could feel indignation running through him, he was being the bigger person, trying to be better than the impulsive teenager he had been and taking responsibility for what happened. Or what almost happened, his mind reminded him bitterly.

“ The truth is I didn’t come looking for any trouble, I know more than most, that my wife can be quite...captivating,” Todoroki said with a small knowing smile.

Bakugou did not miss the way the man said the word wife, it was possessive but also...not; it was as if he wanted to call her more but was not able to. It was so far removed from the way he acted that Bakugou could only be confused; there seemed to be a genuine fondness between them, more than can be said for most couples of their wealth, but Todoroki was not jealous or angry.

“ The truth is she is distraught about her behaviour last night, and so I have come to apologize to you, and hopefully ask for a favour.”

“ A favour?”

Todroki nodded, “ We would love to have you over for dinner, you can ofcourse bring a guest if it would make you more comfortable.”

Bakugou narrowed his eyes at the man, while Ochako had seemed as if she was always lying, he seemed to be always genuine; the kind of person who only spoke when they had something to say. He knew he should not, but Bakugou had never really cared about shoulds.

“ I’d love to.”

“ It’s settled, see you tomorrow.”

***

That night all he could do was call Jirou.

“ I spoke to her at the party, she asked me a bunch of questions about Momo, how she was dying to meet her.” Jirou’s voice over the phone was slow and smug.

“ Momo?”

“ Well, I would be wary too, considering the history between Todoroki and Momo.”

Bakugou frowned as he looked out of his window at the mansion, “ They know each other.”

There was a short bitter chuckle from Jirou, “ More than know, apparently our darling Momo and Todoroki had a somewhat scandalous love affair; they were supposed to get married, but then he was disowned and went to war and Momo married Shindou.”

“ And Ochako asked you to introduce her to Momo?”

Jirou hummed, “ Weird isn’t it? She seemed genuinely interested in meeting her too. I worried she’d want to rub it in Momo’s face but she doesn’t seem like that kind of person.”

Bakugou nodded but he realized that she could not see him, Jirou was not bothered and continued, “ Anyway, I’ve never heard of them inviting someone for dinner before, I didn’t think they entertained other than for their parties. Do you need me to come with you, because I’ll do it. I’m dying to know more about them.”

Bakugou thought of the small smile on Todoroki’s face when he invited him, how he offered graciously for Bakugou to bring someone with him. How he thought Bakugou would need to.

“ It’s okay. I’ll be fine by myself.” He hung up.

***

The next night, when he approached the gates of the mansion, there was a butler there waiting for him.

“ This way Mr. Bakugou, dinner will be served in the gardens tonight.”

Bakugou followed him through the hall, which looked so much bigger without half of the city crammed inside it and through the large french doors towards the garden. The mansion was shrouded in darkness, which he understood when it seemed that only two people lived in it, but there were lamps positioned all around the garden. The cool air from the river and the scent of the water filled the space. There was already a table with cutlery and candles, Bakugou frowned when he saw that there were only two place settings. .

“ Shouto, they said I’ll find you out -”

Bakugou turned just in time to catch the shocked expression slid off her face. Ochako stared at him before her eyes drifted to the butler who had guided him to the dining table. One of her eyebrows arched, but the man seemed to be purposefully avoiding her eyes.

“ Mr. Bakugou I didn’t expect to see you so soon.”

He put his hand in his pocket and nodded at her, “ I received an invitation from your husband but it seemed to have been given without your knowledge. I can leave, if you want.”

She nodded at him before turning back so that she faced the mansion, she seemd to be having a stare down with the facade of the building, when she turned back to him he saw that she had a small amused smile on her face.

“ You’ve come all of this way, it would be a waste. Please sit.”

The table was smaller than what he had expected, it clearly only fit two people and Ochako seemed to have realized that too because she turned to the butler. This time the man acknowledged her with his eyes drawn to the ground.

“ Mr. Todoroki had some business to attend to, but he informed me that you should both enjoy the meal without him.”

Ochako scoffed, “ Of course he did.”

Bakugou could see that she seemed to be at ease now, her shoulders were not tense, her smile not as easy to come. Her dress was plain and looked soft and worn and she barely had any makeup on. This was supposed to be her in her natural state but Bakugou could still not shake the feeling that this was still an act. A part of him wanted to question her, find out what she and her husband were playing at, but another part of him wanted to watch her crack.

They managed to go through the appetizers and half way through the main course before she finally spoke up, “ I wanted to apologize for the night of the party.”

Bakugou cut into his meat and looked up, “ Is that why your husband invited me over and fucking left, in an effort to humiliate you?”

Her eyes widened at his language and bluntness and Bakugou could feel a small twinge of satisfaction at finally catching her off guard, but his frustration only grew when she simply smiled before taking a sip from her wine glass. Bakugou noted that that was the first time he had seen her drink, he did not think he saw neither husband nor wife indulge at their party.

“ I don’t think Shouto’s aim was to humiliate me. I think he just wanted to make sure we got along.”

“ Is that how you usually get along with all of your neighbours?”

She looked downright happy at his curt tone, “ No, but I think my husband knew that you were special.”

Bakugou shot up from his chair before he could fully register it himself, “ Right. Your husband.”

He placed his napkin down before he started making his way back to the house, from behind him he could hear that she was following him, but he refused to look back.

It was only when he was back in the entrance hall, almost at the door that she managed to catch up to him. Her hand grabbed his elbow and jerked him to a stop.

“ Bakugou, wait.”

He turned to her, they were close, even closer than they were that night. But this time, there was no quiet building tension, Bakugou was angry, he was confused and everybody who knew him, knew that was not a good combination. Her eyes widened when she met his, she seemed to finally understand the full extent of his rage.

“ Why the fuck should I?” he seethed, “ It is clear that you and your husband only seek to -”

“ He's not my husband.”

He stilled, “ What?”

Her eyes closed briefly and she seemed to be thinking, but she opened them again and there was a flash of determination on her face that he had not seen before. She had never looked so beautiful.

“ Shouto and I are only married in name. It’s an arrangement, we’ve never-”

She seemed to be at a loss on how to continue, but Bakugou had heard enough. He crashed his lips to hers and it took her only a second to recover. They melted into each other right there in the front hall.

Much later that night, Bakugou woke up in her room, alone and naked. Images of what they had done, of her soft, yielding flesh and her short gasps flashed over his eyes. Moon light filtered into the room through the huge balcony doors and he got up and dressed with only its light for guidance. The house was quiet and dark when he got out of the room. Down the hall he could see a light in one of the rooms where the door was left ajar.

He was filled with a sense of deja vu but he walked towards it either way. He peered through the crack and saw them. Ocahko was in the room, dressed in a flimsy grey robe, talking to Todoroki, who was in clear distress, his head was bent down and his breathing quick and angry. He was sitting down in a leather chair across from her, head down and sleeves rolled up. Ochako was smoothing his hair, her voice nothing but a gentle whisper as she comforted him. There was so much gentleness in that room, so much true affection and warmth and love. It was the exact opposite of what they had done a few hours ago.

Bakugou stepped back, put on his jacket and left.

***

The next morning, there was another knock while he was sketching. He ignored it, the only people who knew his address would not drop by unannounced and something told him that if he saw Todoroki’s scarred face once again he would punch it. The knocking, however, did not stop, if anything it only increased.

As it grew louder and louder, Bakugou slammed his sketchbook shut and stomped to the door. He was surprised when it was not Todoroki, well at least not the male one, who was standing there.

He realized that he had never seen her in the daylight before, they had always met under the shroud of darkness. He expected her to look different in the sun, but he was surprised that she managed to look more and more like the lady he met last night and not the one who had been greeting guests the night of the party. She was tense and looked uncomfortable; he did enjoy watching her so out of her element.

When he refused to say anything she sighted, “ Can I come in?”

He stared at her but moved to the side so she could enter. He was surprised that she did not look out of place in his small living room, if anything she was more comfortable. Her eyes inspected the place, as if searching for anything important, there was a brief flash of disappointment in her face at the bare setting.

“ You left without saying goodbye yesterday.”

He leaned against the wall and crossed his arms, “ You were busy with your husband, I didn’t want to disturb you two.”

He did not enjoy the amusement on her face, “ Are you jealous?”

He frowned, “ You told me that there was nothing between you two, I don’t appreciate being fucking lied to.”

She licked her lips, eyes never leaving his face before she spoke, “ You’re right. I didn’t tell you the entire truth,” she paused collecting her words, “ Shouto and I are married in name only, but I am also not indifferent to him. I have known him a long time, I care about him, deeply, and it’s mutual. That’s why he invited you in the first place.”

“ So what exactly are you guys? He loves you but he doesn’t care that you’re fucking around?”

There was a flash of anger, “ You’re not listening to me. Don’t you have someone like that? Someone you can’t explain what they are to you?”

Bright green eyes and curly hair flashed in his mind, a freckled back and scarred hands that he had left back in Paris. The look on his face must have betrayed his thoughts because she looked a mixture of relieved and smug. She stepped closer to him and he stepped back.

“ Have you ever fucked him?”

She pursed her lips, “ No. It’s not like that between us. He’s my family.”

Bakugou could understand that, even if he didn’t like it. “ Do you want tea?”

A blinding grin came on her face, it made the knot in his stomach tighten, he was fascinated by all the expressions she made. She nodded and he motioned to the couch so she could sit.

They spent the entire day talking, he watched her bloom in front of him as the sun moved across the sky. The line of her back relaxed, her smiles grew more crooked; her face more alive. But he could tell that she was still hiding something from him.

“ The truth is there is another reason Shouto went along with my attraction to you.”

He smirked as he nestled into her neck, “ Don’t tell me he likes to watch?”

She laughed, the sound washing over him, and smacked his shoulder, “ No, this is serious, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.”

He stretched back so he was not lying right on top of her. She bit at her lip before sighting and striagening up. “ I was wondering if you could invite your friend Momo here, for a visit, so that Shouto can see her.”

She could probably see the disbelief on his face because she immediately reached out to cup his face, “ Please Bakugou, it would mean the world to him, and I know that you must hate her husband.”

“ So is that why you came today, so that you can reunite your husband and his long lost love?”

She shook her head and turned his face so that he could meet her brown eyes, “No. No. My plan was to get Jirou to invite her, I approached you, because I wanted to. I was watching you at that party; I saw the way you looked at everyone there. It interested me.”

“ And how was I staring at them?”

“Like you knew what they actually are, you’re the only one who saw through it all.”

He peered at her eyes, he could tell she was telling him the truth, the desperation he saw on her face was not for want of the favour, but because she wanted him to not doubt her. And against all his better judgement Bakugou took one of her hands into his and kissed the inside of her palm.

“ And what will we do, while the both of them meet?”

Her smile was relieved, her eyes happy. “ I’m sure we’ll find a way to fill the time.”

****

The day that Momo was scheduled to visit him, both of the Todrokis showed up bright and early. With lots of cake, and at least three blends of tea. Todoroki directed the servants he had brought, on where to place everything while he and Ochako hung back.

Ochako knelt towards him, “ You have to excuse him, he gets like this when he’s excited.”

Bakugou narrowed his eyes at the intense but somewhat detached expression on his face, “ Well fuck, I can’t imagine what he looks like when he’s happy.”

She pursed her lips to hold her laugh back and Bakugou smiled down at her. Todoroki paced up and down the living room.

“ I did want to thank you Bakugou for allowing this.”

Bakugou shrugged, “ Didn’t do it for you.”

Todoroki turned to her, “ Are you sure about this one? He’s quite the demotion.”

Bakugou bristled but Ochako smiled good naturedly at them both. “ Play nice you two,” she walked to one of the dessert displays that were set out on the table and picked up a small tart with a strawberry on top of it, “ Do you want Momo to come here and feel all this tension?”

As if summoned by her words, there was a sound of a car pulling up to the driveway and immediately Todoroki crossed the room in three long strides to look out of the window. Bakugou made his way to the door, just in time to catch Momo getting out of the car. She smiled brightly when she saw him and spoke to the chauffeur who nodded and got back into the car, before she crossed the gravel driveway to him.

“ Bakugou! I was delighted at your invitation.”

The car roared as it started to leave the property and Bakugou waited until it was safely driving up the road before he hurried her inside. “ Yes, yes I know but there’s something you should know..”

Before he finished, he felt her tense as he closed the door. He looked up and immediately understood why. There at the end of the hall was Todoroki. Momo did not seem to care about what he was saying, she looked absolutely floored, an expression that Bakugou had never seen before. Todoroki took the first step towards them and that was all it took for Momo to take slow steps towards the man. Both of them did not seem to be breathing, the air was filled with a stillness that felt like the moment before a gun went off. When they finally met each other in the middle, both of them took in a deep breath. Momo looked over all of his face, eyes soft and hungry, drinking him in.

“ Is it really you? Here?” Her voice was a whisper, on the verge of tears.

Todoroki nodded. To the side of them stood Ochako, hidden behind the arch that led to the kitchen. She nodded at the backdoor and he slowly walked towards her. She held in her giggles until they were in the garden.

“ Thank you Katsuki, really I don’t know how I can possibly explain how much this means to him.”

It was the first time she had used his first name. He squeezed her waist as they made their way through the gates of her mansion.

“ How thankful are you exactly?”

Her eyes were bright as she turned to him and slipped out of his grasp, “That’s up to you to find out.”

Her shrieks echoed through the grounds as he chased her. When he finally caught her and kissed her she tasted like sugar and strawberries.

***

Hours later, when they were both basking in the glow of each other and the setting sun, there was a knock on the door of her room.

“ Ma’am it’s Chicago.”

Ochako slid out of his grasp so quickly, and put on her robe, her smooth back hiding under the fabric. “ I’ll be right back.”

He sighted and collapsed back into the mattress , she had what seemed to be a dozen pillows on her bed. The linens, soft and warm. He glanced at the setting sun from the balcony, they probably would need to get dressed and go to collect Momo and Todoroki soon. Ochako came back in, she smiled at him from the doorway.

“ We should probably go back to get them, it’s late and I need to talk to Shouto about something.”

He nodded and patted the place next to him in the bed, she grinned and jumped in.

“ What about?”

“It’s just work.”

He hummed as he knelt down and kissed the corner of her mouth, “ What is it that your husband does anyway?”

She shifted so he was pressing against her lips, he gave her one peck, two and after the third she leaned back.

“ We should go get them, it’s really getting late.”

She left the bed and started getting dressed and it was only when they were half way to his house that he realized that she never answered his question.

 

****