“We could be dating.”
Okej, he had walked himself into that one. It was the most obvious answer.
As she went on, Kit revealed that she did indeed like him, which was something that made him surprised and a little… uncomfortable? He thought uncomfortable was the right word for it. This was the first time someone had confessed any sort of not-just-friends emotion towards him; what was he supposed to do with that? The movie-scene answer was to say he felt the same way and of course they should be dating, but he didn’t feel the same way, as far as he could tell, and people didn’t just start dating without having feelings. To be fair his only experience in that area was by watching his friends, but they had all seemed to go through a sort of awkward clingy stage before they started dating, which he assumed was when feelings happened. Then the dating itself always had more awkward clingy stages, and that just seemed very unappealing to him.
Her suggestion that he might not just know he had feelings was again a little uncomfortable, because surely that was the type of thing he would know about himself. But maybe she had a point and dating really was a don’t-know-until-you-try-it thing. Again, he had no personal experience, but he was pretty sure that if he asked for example Dagny for advice, she would say it couldn’t hurt to try once. That had been her response to everything from joining a deer-bleating imitation contest in Prague to trying a Turkish soup that was just watery broth with boiled snail shells (neither of which was similar to dating, but maybe had some similarities if you combined them and squinted hard. Dagny herself had said that licking out the snail shells felt like kissing Jocke, although he wasn’t sure if she had just been joking. Not that dating had to mean kissing, either. Why was he thinking that?).
It was convenient that he was balancing a knife and a fork and a plate of Russian pancakes, because if Anssi didn’t know how to respond, he definitely didn’t know what to do with his hands while trying to figure out a response.
“That, um, that sounds fair,” he ventured hesitantly. For some reason it was easier to look away while saying this but he made an effort, blue eyes blinking up and trying to hold there. “I guess we could try having a date. But I can’t just be your boyfriend right away,” Anssi added in a rush. It felt rude to say, but he knew he had to be clear. Communication was always best; both his siblings had taught him that, if one in a much better way than the other. “Is that… okay?” A part of him hoped it wasn’t, because then they could just pretend this short strange conversation never happened, but there was another part of him that knew he’d been left out of dating in school and that had always been presented as an important milestone for some reason. He couldn’t imagine why Kit would want to date him - he wasn’t particularly funny or athletic or smart, and while he liked his new hairstyle he doubted that made up for his birthmark in appearance - but maybe it wouldn’t be the worst for his first date.