notes. soopah late gift!fic for Lian Bynum. AH, I'm sorry LB! I wanted to make this oneshot perfect. (Changed the title, by the way! I got A Word A Day subscription, and, when I looked at it today, I saw a very inspiring quote.)
Trusting someone takes more than just being best friends, regardless of their mistakes. Trust also takes Love.

Trusting You, Trusting Love
For Lian Bynum, a very awesome friend & loyal reviewer




Horror. Shock. Hurt. Betrayal. Anger. Astonishment. Disbelief.

Those were just some of the torrent of emotions I felt when I first saw my best friend, Derek Monroe, sucking face with Jennifer Barnett, the two oblivious to the world around them.

He was so being ex-ed out. He hadn't told me about his newfound relationship with Jennifer, and that's probably what hurt the most.

"Anya!" Mercedes (we tease her a lot about her name) called to me, once she'd realized that I'd paused in my tracks with my eyes burning, except I wouldn't let them fall.

"Anya," she repeated. "What is it?"

When I didn't answer, she followed my gaze to the two eels wrapped around each other—I didn't know where one began and another ended. Her expression darkened, and I wouldn't have been surprised if a black storm cloud appeared over her head and started flashing lightning. She was that angry.

"Oh," she growled, "th—that . . . ugh!"

I agreed with her, but I wasn't going to let him know that I was as upset as Mercedes, because the truth was: I wanted to be the one kissing Derek.

/ x. /

Yawning, I stretched my arms up and over my head to release the tension settling there. Today was, of all the days to be awake at eight in the morning, his birthday. And I was invited to the party he was throwing even though I rarely, if ever, talked to him anymore.

I wondered why. Maybe he hadn't noticed my lack of words whenever I saw him—he was obviously pretty busy with Jennifer. Or maybe he hadn't cared that he'd invited his former best friend to his birthday party. How was I supposed to know? I didn't know Derek Monroe as well as I used to anymore.

My phone suddenly rang, and I reached over with a long arm to pick it up. I didn't even think to glance at the Caller ID—how stupid of me.


"Anya?" I nearly hung up right there, but he continued without letting me talk. Well. "Anya, I know you're probably mad at me, but I just wanted to let you know: I really do want you to come to my birthday party."

". . . Anya?"

I hung up abruptly, wiping forbidden tears from my eyes. How dare he call me! Especially when he hadn't been looking, let alone speaking, to me for the past week.

My phone rang again, and I was annoyed. This time I did scan the Caller ID, grumbling when Derek flashed at me from the screen. I was not going to answer.

Not going to.

. . . NOPE. Not going to answer. Using all the willpower I possessed, I didn't answer. Until a few seconds later, when he'd finally given up and was gone, as I found out when I hurriedly whispered, "Hello?" into the dial tone.

I sighed, closing the phone quickly before I started to forgive the guy—I nearly did just a few seconds ago.

And, I think that's what scared me the most. I didn't want to forgive him. At least . . . not yet. Maybe not ever.

/ x. /

Eventually, due to the very good argument presented by Mercedes ("You have to get over him, Anya! You must. If you don't, you'll be weak in his eyes, and you wouldn't want that, now would you?"), I had to go to that damn party.

Surprisingly, I actually dressed up for Derek's party, partially because of Merce, and partially because I wanted to impress The Birthday Boy. Not that I would ever admit it . . . even though I just admitted it now, but that's beside the point.

Anyways! Mercedes came to pick me up, stylishly dressed in a simple top-and-jeans combo. I was in the simple T-shirt-and-jeans combo, with a little added make-up, even though I rarely wore it. I was nearly ashamed of myself, but Merce assured me of Derek's inevitable astonishment when I did walk through that door and back into his life again, looking like I did—which wasn't anything, in my opinion, but she was Merce, always honest, no matter if you were her best friend or not.

"Scared, Anya?" she asked me gently, glancing sideways and catching the expression on my face.

I shook my head.

I was terrified.

/ x. /

Mercedes, as the ever-so-loyal friend that she was, ditched me once she strolled into the house, quickly spotting her boyfriend of 3 years, Joaquin, who was enthusiastically waving at her from beside, of all people, Derek Monroe. She flew into Joaquin's arms, smiling gorgeously when he whispered something into her ear.

And then there were two—at least that's what it felt like to me; if anything, there were more than two people in this house.

Terrified, I didn't even have anything to say, and so I said nothing. What I really wanted to say was how I've felt the past week, but I didn't exactly know how to bring the subject up. I couldn't very well just say, "Hey, Derek, you know how much I love you? I love you so much that it hurt like hell when I saw you with Jennifer Barnett."

Nope, no way was I going to say that to him. He probably wanted to find Jennifer, instead of staying here, with me, the tension practically tangible between us. I could hear everyone talking, shouting, yelling, ignoring The Birthday Boy and His Ex-Best-Friend, the music blaringly loud in my ears, but I couldn't fathom what, exactly, they were talking about.

I was distracted, eyes darting back and forth around the room, glancing at anything but the man standing right in front of me; almost close enough for me to hear his breathing.


"Don't," I finally burst out, hurt lacing my words, "don't say anything, Derek. Please."

He clamped his mouth shut, obeying me, for once, and I sighed sadly. The emotions suddenly attacking, attacking as if they had no reason to stop, like an onslaught that chose this very moment to make itself known, overwhelmed me.

"Stupid idea to come here," I mumbled to myself, stupidly loud enough for Ex-Best Friend to hear me.

"Er . . . what did you say?" he asked me, and I raised fearful eyes to him, blinking almost innocently.

"I didn't say anything," I told him.

And then he was suddenly close—too close, so close, and I felt my breath catch, knew he heard it too. I could feel his not-overly-muscled chest through the shirt I wore, and felt my heartbeat increase, blushing at my reaction.

He's taken, Anya! Get over this! You can do it! The voice sounded suspiciously like Mercedes.

Catch was: I didn't think I could.

"Derek . . ." I whispered softly, looking away from his piercing gaze.

"What is it, Anya?" I closed my eyes, breathing deeply through my nose so I wouldn't break down right there. These damn emotions were holding my common sense hostage, jeering at me, as if their very lives consisted of torturing me to the point of a breakdown.

"Please back up," I replied, ever so polite. "Ever heard of personal space?" (Witty Anya was back.)

He didn't back up. (Apparently, Stubborn Derek was still there.)

"Derek, look," I said, finally finding the courage to meet his gaze straight on. "I'm not very happy with you right now."

He smiled apologetically. "I know, and I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Jennifer and I, but I didn't have the time to."

"Cut the crap!" I cried furiously, already past my breaking point. "Before Jennifer, you said you'd always have time for me, you liar! I-I hate you!"

But I knew that wasn't true.

And, without further ado, tears already streaming their sad, miserable way down my face—I didn't care anymore—I, poor, pitiful girl that I am, turned and ran blindly, out through the door, except I didn't exactly know where I was headed.

/ x. /

My feet towed me towards the park—something pretty stupid because Derek and I, in our younger years, always used to hang out here, squealing and giggling and laughing as we pushed the other on the swings.

Ugh. I just wanted those memories to go away. For them to just leave and disappear and disintegrate so I could finally live my life without hurting every day.

Wearily, I settled my back against the trunk of my favorite tree, sighing with relief when I didn't see anyone coming from behind—and no one was at the park either, so I was totally alone, except the sweet, innocent birds in their trees but they were just trying to help me feel better with their cheery song. If I didn't know any better, I'd think they were mocking me with the happiness of their tunes.

When I buried my face in my hands, I was absolutely mortified to hear someone—a dude; he had a dude's voice—say, "Well, fancy meeting you here." I'd thought no one had followed me!

"What do you want." It was not a question.

"I want you to listen to me," he whispered, and, out of the corner of my eyes, I could see him reach out, and then his hand paused in mid-air. I was disappointed with myself for anticipating his touch.

"Shoot," I finally sighed, and Derek leaned against the tree; I sighed. He was trying to worm his way into my heart again. And I think I'm going to let him this time. No matter how insecure I felt. Being away from him wasn't worth how I'd felt when he didn't tell me.

"Truth be told, Anya, I didn't want to go out with Jennifer. She sort of just . . . threw herself on me, you know? She's that type of person. And I broke up with her three days ago, so no need to be jealous." I could sense the smile in his voice, and pushed my shoulder against his. Just like that, I had forgiven him.

He noticed. "You forgive me, Anya?" he asked softly.

"Of course," I said airily. "You broke up with the 'hottest' girl in school for me, why wouldn't I?" And I always would; he was my best friend.

A few seconds later and I turned my body to look at him. He met my gaze, and I smiled.

"I don't really hate you, you know. I was . . . upset."

He grinned. "I could tell."

"So, we OK?"

Derek was suddenly serious, glancing at me with unreadable eyes. He leant over, reading the emotion in my own eyes, and then his lips were over mine. I sucked in a surprised breath. I hadn't been expecting this.

"Derek . . ." I whispered, pulling my lips away from his for a second before he captured them again. He was hormonal, a true testosterone-running guy! "—what—you just broke up with your girlfriend!"

Why did I even care about Jennifer, honestly? This was what I'd wanted—for him to be kissing me like this. I just hadn't expected him to start kissing me, a mere three days after dropping the girl. As much as I disliked her, I didn't want to be the rebound.

Finally, I got the strength—he was weakening me with all of his delicious lip movements—to push him away. "I won't be the rebound-girl!" I shouted, standing and stumbling backwards, eyes wide and innocent—this time not a façade.

His eyes softened as he walked towards me. "You won't be the rebound-girl," he whispered soothingly, reaching out to touch me again, this time with no hesitation.

"You've got to be kidding me," I said. "Three days of Jennifer being heartbroken—because, believe it or not, she really liked you, at least . . . I think so—and now you're on me, li-like a guy!" Stupid simile, but still.

"I am a guy, Anya." He smiled.

"I know," I sighed softly. "Huh, I know—" I touched my lips, blushing when his eyes caught mine again, "—but, it's just—I'm scared." No point holding the truth back from him.

I used to tell Derek everything—well, not exactly everything, as in my certain infatuation with him—but I did tell him a lot of things I never told anyone else.

"Scared of what?"

"You. Mostly."

He stepped forward, into a position so like the one back at his house that I felt my breath becoming hitched again.

"Why me?" he asked, placing his hands on my arms, rubbing sweetly.

Closing my eyes, I replied. "Because it's you, Der. My best friend. Even when you didn't tell me about you and Jennifer, but I'll let that slide. You're a guy." I smiled reluctantly.

"Anya . . ." he whispered. "Do you trust me?"

It took me a while to answer, partially because I hadn't been expecting that question—just like I hadn't expected that kiss—and partially because my mind was currently running through what trust really meant: confidence in someone, regardless of past mistakes . . . relying on someone—"Then, yes, I do, Der. I trust you."

He grinned, a full, blown-out grin that I've never before seen on his face. "Good."

". . . Why do you ask?"

"Because," he said, and, if it were even possible, his Cheshire cat grin grew into something nearly Godzilla-Cheshire-cat-like. I was pretty frightened now, to tell the truth.

"Because," Derek finally continued, "'Trust is the first step to love', as said by Munshi Premchand." (1)

"Oh." I laughed, completely caught off-guard. "Really? Well, I guess we're on a pretty good level, don't you think? I'm pretty sure I trust you with my whole life, Der."

"A very good level."

/ x. /

The next few weeks consisted of Derek trying to redeem himself in my eyes, but, really, I'd forgiven him the moment he came after me, to the park, but that didn't stop him from lavishing me with heartfelt gifts. He gave me flower bouquets at school, wrote cheesy notes that had me giggling the entire 7th period, offered to drive me to school and back home, took me out to eat at the most random times, and the most memorable? Him just being there when I called, or when I knocked on his door.

I didn't need sweet gifts. I needed him—my very best friend, including Mercedes, because she'd probably kill me if I didn't call her my other best girlfriend.

"So, Anya," Mercedes began over the phone, 2 months after the events of Derek's birthday. "Do you trust him?"

I grinned, pleased to hear my new favorite question. And, while leaning back against the now ever so present body of Derek Monroe, my head on his chest as he played with my hair, his arms hugging me to him, so like those past days (maybe I didn't have to throw those memories away anymore), I told her.

"I trust him with my heart, Merce. 'Trust is the first step to love', after all."

I could feel his smile—his Godzilla-Cheshire-cat-smile—against my hair.

notes. Hope you enjoyed, Lian!

(1) Trust is the first step to love. - Munshi Premchand, novelist and poet (1880-1936) - from A Word A Day (wordsmith (dot) org); December 29, 2008

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