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Avery stared at the calendar that hung on the back of her bedroom door and let out a sigh. Today made it one month, three weeks, and five days since that early morning when he left her.

She knew it was absolutely pathetic of her to keep track of such a thing, but absolutely pathetic was what she had become since the break up. The only times she left her bed were to go to work, to eat, or to use the bathroom. She slept most of the time, and when she bothered to be awake, all she did was mope. To top everything off, she had taken to sleeping with one of Vic’s shirts that he had left behind clutched in her arms. The faint scent of him that clung to the fabric was her only sense of comfort.

“Ave, c’mon, we’re gonna be late,” Nat called from the living room.

With another sigh, Avery tore her gaze from the calendar and pulled the door open. When she got out to the living room, Nat greeted her with a faint smile.

“Here’s your breakfast, sweetie,” she said, handing half of a bagel smeared with cream cheese and a baggie of strawberries to Avery. “We can stop off at Starbucks to get you a drink, if you want.”

Avery nodded before taking a tiny bite from her bagel. Nat watched, with a small frown on her face, for a few moments before she forced a smile onto her face and hiked her bag up higher on her shoulder.

“We better get going,” she said before heading for the apartment’s door.

Avery followed, but at a much slower pace, while nibbling on a strawberry. Once she finally made it out of the door, Nat locked up the apartment behind them. As they walked down the hall, she chattered about things that Avery honestly couldn’t have cared less about. But to keep her friend happy, she occasionally added a word or two to the conversation. Nat must have taken this as progress on Avery’s part, because the smile on her face became genuine and an extra bounce was added to her step.

Since the break up, Nat had become a caretaker of sorts for Avery. She made sure that Avery ate, showered on a regular basis, and got to and from work in one piece. For almost a week straight after the break up, Avery would get up and ready like she was going to work, but as soon as Nat left for her own job,she would curl back up in bed and sleep the day away. After Avery’s boss called the apartment and threatened to fire her if she missed one more day of work, Nat took on the task of driving Avery to work and driving her back home every weekday.

Avery was well aware of the fact that Nat was doing all of this because she felt responsible for Vic leaving Avery. At first, Avery also felt that Nat was the reason that it happened, and had refused to talk to her because of that, but eventually, being angry took too much energy, so she let it go. Nat, on the other hand, had not. Whenever Avery would experience a bout of loneliness and turned to Nat for someone to cry to, Nat would spend the whole time apologizing profusely. If Avery wasn’t so preoccupied with feeling sorry for herself, she would give her best friend a big hug and assure her that the break up wasn’t completely her fault. Partially, but not completely.

“So, I was thinking of doing something after work today,” Nat said as they left the building and headed for her car. “Maybe call up some friends and go out somewhere. What do you think?”

Avery was thinking of doing something after work, too - burrowing herself in her bed and crying while clutching Vic’s shirt.

“I was planning on staying in tonight,” she mumbled.

Nat unlocked the car and the two got into their respective seats. Once the car was on the road, she picked up from where their previous conversation had left off.

“Ave, I know that you miss him, but moping around the apartment and holding on to his shirt for dear life every night while you sleep isn’t going to bring him back.” She paused, staring out at the road ahead of her for a few moments before she sighed and continued. “He wants you to be happy. You can’t be happy if you don’t go out and try to be.”

Avery chewed slowly on a strawberry, thinking over what Nat had said. She wanted to be happy, of course, but it wasn’t that simple. One night out with the girls wasn’t going to make her forget that the man she loved lefther. It was going to be a gradual process with many stages, and right now, she was in the grieving stage. But instead of explaining all of this to her friend, she turned her attention to the window beside her and watched as the car zipped by a quiet residential street.

“How’d you know about the shirt?” she asked, her voice soft, a few minutes later.

“I went into your room the other night to see if you wanted to order in, but you were asleep...with your face buried in the shirt.” Nat reached out her hand and laced it through Avery’s free hand, giving it a slight squeeze. “I’m so sorry, Avery.”

Avery slipped her hand out of Nat’s and bit down on her bottom lip, trying her hardest to not start crying again. The rest of the ride to Starbucks was quiet, aside from the occasional sigh from Nat or the clicking of the car’s turn signal. After she pulled the car into a spot in the parking lot, Nat nudged Avery out of her daze.

“What do you want?” she asked as she dug her wallet out of her bag.

Avery realized that Nat intended to fetch and pay for her drink, and was quick to protest, “No, I can get my own-”

“Just let me get it for you, Ave. I insist.”

When Avery turned to look at her friend, she could see that the cheery smile on her face was forced and that traces of guilt were extremely evident. She understood why Nat was being so stubborn about buying her a drink - she was trying to somehow make up for what she thought was all her fault. Since she couldn’t bring Vic back, she would try to rid her guilt with drinks from Starbucks and pints of Ben & Jerry’s. So, to help Nat get rid of some of the guilt she was feeling, Avery accepted the offer.

“Grande Vanilla Bean Frap, please,” she requested before turning back to her window.

“Okay, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Nat climbed out of the car and hurried into the shop, leaving Avery alone to stare out of the car window and think about better times. Times when her best friend didn’t treat her like a charity case. Times when she did more than sleep and cry. Times when she drove six hours to see Vic or he drove six hours to see her. Times when she was in his arms. Times when she was happy.

She was so caught up in thinking about these better times that she didn’t see or hear Nat come back to the car. So when her frap was held up in her face, she didn’t have a chance to wipe away her tears before Nat saw them.


Avery quickly wiped away her tears, most likely wiping away her make up as well, and shook her head. “Don’t. Just don’t.” She took her drink from Nat’s outreached hand and took a sip. “Thanks for the drink.”

“Do you want to talk-”

“No, I do not.”

“Okay then.”

Nat pulled on her seatbelt before she stuck her key in the ignition, starting up the car. She turned on the radio, settling on a pop station, then pulled the car out of the lot.

The rest of the ride to the office that Avery worked at was tense. Avery stared out at the road ahead of her, sipping on her drink, while Nat cast frequent sideways glances at her, thinking that Avery didn’t notice.

Avery wanted to scream at Nat to stop looking at her like she was the saddest excuse for a person that she had ever laid eyes on. But instead, she kept her mouth shut until they reached her job. While she was gathering up her bag and the remains of her breakfast, Nat finally spoke up.

“I’ll be back later,” she told Avery, turning to face her friend. She rested her hand on Avery’s shoulder and gave a small smile. “At least think about going out tonight, okay?”

Avery shrugged Nat’s hand away, then pushed open the passenger side door and climbed out of the car. Before slamming the door shut, she muttered an assurance that she would think about going out. Nat seemed satisfied enough, for she waved and smiled before driving away.

Watching as Nat’s car got smaller and smaller as it got farther and farther away, Avery rolled her eyes and shook her head at her friend’s naivety. She had no intentions of thinking about going out because she already had plans for the night that involved her bed, Vic’s shirt, and her tears.

- - -

“Ave, phone!”

Before Avery had the chance to roll out of her bed, the door to her bedroom slammed open and Nat marched into the room, phone in hand. Clearly, she was still upset that Avery had no interest in going out for dinner and dancing with a few of their friends.

“Who is it?” Avery asked, her voice still thick from sleep.

Nat rolled her eyes and held the phone out for Avery to take. “Take the call and you’ll find out,” she said before tossing the phone onto Avery’s lap and stomping back out of the room.

Avery flopped back in her bed and sighed loudly before picking up the phone and bringing it to her ear. “Hello?”

“Uh, hi, Ave.”

Avery’s eyes widened and her hand flew to her mouth, trying, unsuccessfully, to block the gasp that escaped from her throat.

She had imagined this moment so many times before. Half of the time in her imagination, she yelled, cursed, and cried until she was spent and he was begging for her forgiveness. Other times, she cried, he comforted her, and they made up. But now that the moment was here, she had no idea what to do.

“This is really sudden, but I’m here...like, outside of your building, here.”

Avery’s eyes widened to the point that she was sure they were going to pop out of her skull.

“Could I, uh, maybe come up and see you?”

Anger flared up within Avery. He breaks up with her, doesn’t talk to her for almost two months, then suddenly decides that he wants to see her, and she’s supposed to just willingly put herself through the pain of being in the same room as him without being able to call him her boyfriend?

“No,” she snapped, surprising herself with the force behind her voice. “You can’t come up here and fuck up my emotions even more than you already have, Vic.”

She almost felt bad for being so harsh toward him. But then she remembered how much he had hurt her when he walked through that door that early morning, and suddenly, the guilt for being so mean went away.

“That’s what I want to talk to you about-”

“No, you can’t do this to me! You can’t leave me, then suddenly pop back up in my life. You just can’t.” The first few tears were making their way down Avery’s cheeks and her throat began to hurt as she struggled to keep in the sob that wanted to break free. “I won’t let you. You’ve already done enough damage to me.”

Before Vic had a chance to respond, Avery disconnected the call and tossed the phone to the foot of the bed. She pulled the blankets over her head, buried her nose in the shirt, and closed her eyes.

- - -

A creak and the squeak of her mattress woke Avery up. She figured it was Nat coming in to check on her, so she snuggled into the blankets and shut her eyes, prepared to fall back asleep. But when someone ‘psst’ed and poked her shoulder, she knew it wasn’t her friend peeking in to make sure she was okay.

Which is why she took in a deep breath, squeezed her eyes shut, and let out a bloodcurdling scream.

A hand clamped over her mouth, muffling her scream, and the same voice from before shushed her.

She squirmed, trying to break free from the intruder, but they held firm. In a last ditch attempt to get free, she bit down hard on the hand covering her mouth.

“Fuck! Avery, what the hell? Jesus Christ...”

Avery squinted, trying to make out the figure looming over her. “Mike? Is that you?”

“You bit me. You seriously bit me.”

Frustrated that this person, that she was pretty sure was Mike, wasn’t answering her and confused as to why he was in her room, Avery slipped on her glasses, then snatched up her iPhone from her bedside table and pushed the appropriate button to bring the screen to life, using it as a flashlight.

A few feet away from her bed, waving his injured hand around while glaring in her direction, was Vic’s younger brother, Mike.

“What are you doing here at-” Avery glanced at the clock on her phone’s screen. “almost two in the morning?”

“He’s here to kidnap your pathetic ass,” another voice said. Nat stepped out from behind Mike and smirked at Avery. “Get up and make yourself look presentable. You have ten minutes.”

The thought that maybe she was dreaming all of this crossed Avery’s mind. It would explain the unexplainable - Mike and Nat in cahoots. To test her theory, she pinched her arm.

Noticing this, Nat rolled her eyes. “No, you’re not dreaming,” she said flatly. “Get up.”

“Why?” Avery asked, still confused about what was going on. “And why are you two here...together? Nat, you can’t stand Vic, but you’re buddy-buddy with Mike?”

“Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?” Mike demanded.

“I am not friends with this Fuentes either,” Nat insisted, widening her eyes and shooting Avery an appalled look. “We’re simply completing a mission together. Nothing more than that.”

Mike pursed his lips and raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. He was obviously a bit thrown off by Nat’s unique personality.

Nat moved over to Avery’s dresser and pulled open the top drawer. Not caring that Mike was in the room, she tossed a bra and a pair of panties in Avery’s direction, then slammed the drawer shut before moving onto the next drawer. She went through all of the drawers, taking out clothes until a t-shirt and a pair of shorts were on Avery’s bed, along with the underwear and bra that Mike was trying to act like he wasn’t glancing at every so often.

“Where am I going at two in the morning that I need to put a bra on?” Avery whined, flopping back onto her bed.

“Stop asking so many questions and get dressed.” Nat grabbed Mike’s arm and dragged him toward the door. “Fuentes, you wait out in the hall. Avery will be out in a few minutes.” She pushed him out of the room, then slammed the door shut in his face. To Avery, she said, “You owe me for making me talk to that boy.”

“I’m a man, not a boy!” Mike yelled from the other side of the door.

“Oh my God, I don’t care, Fuentes!” Nat called back, rolling her eyes. Turning to Avery, she grumbled, “You really owe me.”

“I didn’t make you do anything,” Avery muttered while she shimmied on the shorts Nat had tossed to her. “Now tell me what is going on.”

“Just get dressed, alright? You’ll find out in a few minutes.”

Nat’s vague answer should have been a sign that whatever she and Mike had planned wasn’t something that Avery would go along with willingly. But her confusion and tiredness was preventing her from thinking clearly, so she did as Nat told her to and quickly got dressed.

“Alright, I’m dressed, so now will you tell me what’s going on?” Avery asked while she tied her hair up in a ponytail.

“You’re probably going to want to use the bathroom,” Nat said, completely disregarding Avery’s question.

Figuring it would be easier for her to follow Nat’s orders, rather than put up a fight, Avery went down the hall to the bathroom. She took care of her business and when she stepped out of the bathroom, she found Mike and Nat talking to each other in hushed voices.

“Am I interrupting something?”

The whispered conversation abruptly stopped and the unlikely pair whipped around to face Avery.

“Are you ready?” Nat asked her. When Avery nodded, a grin broke out on Nat’s face. “Okay, great. Fuentes is taking you back to San Diego and you are talking to the other Fuentes. Have fun!”

Avery tried to make a run for her room, but Mike was quick to block her path. When she tried to slip past him, he wrapped his arms around her waist and picked her up.

“Put me down!” she whined as she squirmed in his arms. “Mike, c’mon, put me down!”

“I will if you promise not to run,” he said.

She rolled her eyes and sighed, “Fine, whatever, I promise not to run.”

Mike set her feet back on the ground, but stood in her path in case she tried to run again.

As much as Avery wanted to run, she knew she wouldn’t make it past Mike, so instead, she turned back around to glare at Nat. “I’m not going,” she said firmly, crossing her arms over her chest to prove that she meant business.

“Yes you are.” Nat mimicked Avery’s crossed arms over her own chest. “You and Fuentes need to have a talk. You’re both miserable and it’s driving everyone around you both nuts.”

“Vic’s a mess, Ave,” Mike said, then reached out to turn her around so she was looking at him. Once she was, he locked eyes with her. “You guys need to talk and fix things.”

Avery looked down at the floor and nibbled on her bottom lip nervously. She wanted to talk to Vic. She wanted to remind him how much he meant to her and how much she loved him. She wanted to tell him about how much she had missed him since the last time they had seen each other. And most of all, she wanted to tell him that he was perfect for her, and she wanted to help him realize this.

But could she? Could she be in the same room as him without reducing to tears? Could she get her thoughts and feelings across to him so that he was able to see how much he meant to her? And most importantly, could she handle it if he rejected her?

The atmosphere of the hallway was tense as Avery had a mental debate about all of this in her mind. Though her eyes were focused on the ground, she could feel Mike and Nat’s eyes watching her, waiting for her to make a decision.

After a while more of telling herself that she could do this, then panicking and losing her confidence, then telling herself again that she could do this, Avery forced herself to bring her eyes back up from the ground to Mike. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly before nodding her head. “Okay, I’ll do it.”


aw this was lovely. <3
eliseypoo eliseypoo
Congratulations for effectively sending my emotions on a roller coaster! Haha sad it's over though but nice writing style :)
clairephernelia clairephernelia
i'm super excited for the next part!
this is really well written and well set up, and i'm sad not only because of the plot but because it's only three parts! but good job!!
clairephernelia clairephernelia
I love this. I'm sad that it's only three parts. It's written so well and I love the characters already! Can't wait for the third part :)
eliseypoo eliseypoo