Collection Thirteen: break to keep fixing

He doesn't have time to prepare himself, therefore, he doesn't have time to react properly.

His coworker tells Sam to put the popcorn in the bag, and so he does, then he hands it off to someone behind the counter, but then he looks up from his hands and he wasn't ready.

She's there.

Sam hasn't seen her in over a year (Valentine's Day was the last time he actually saw her, and if he had known she was going to leave him the next week, he would've insisted on holding her longer) but he recognizes her. She's skinnier, and her hair is bright red (it was blonde last), but her uniform of a flannel and a pair of ripped jeans hasn't changed.

She raises an eyebrow, and takes the popcorn bag from him. Sam doesn't say anything (he thinks maybe he should) so instead he offers a weak smile and waves meekly.

She laughs, with an awkward undertone to it, then she looks back up at him and smiles. "Well, this isn't weird at all," she says, and he almost stops breathing because he's forgotten the way she sounds, low and raspy but somehow still feminine, and then he's quickly reminded of his surroundings when his coworker very aggressively stabs him in the side with her elbow.

"S-sorry," Sam finally mutters, and she shrugs in response.

"Don't be," she responds, then waves her fingers with a small smirk. "Seeya, Clarence." And with that, she finally walks away from the concession stand.

Sam stands bewildered for a few seconds, feeling like he's been dropped off a cliff before his coworker laughs.

"What?" Sam asks, almost a growl.

"Nothing, Clarence," his coworker chuckles. "Nothing at all."

"Shut up," Sam mutters as he can feel his face turn bright red, and he turns back to help the next person in line get their snack.

~X~

Moon&Moore: You didn't tell me you were working at the theater, Clarence.

SammyFish has seen

SammyFish is typing

SammyFish: didn't see a reason to tell you.

Moon&Moore: It's fine. You gave me quite the anxiety attack

SammyFish: You scared me so much. Like I didn't even have time to prepare myself because I didn't see you walk up, and when you did, I felt just...winded, I guess

Moon&Moore: dude I recognized you as soon as I walked in and I almost died like

Moon&Moore: I realize now that I was overreacting but I was just not ready to see you again

SammyFish has seen

SammyFish is typing

SammyFish: it's been a year, Celeste.

Moon&Moore has seen

Moon&Moore is typing

Moon&Moore: I know, Clarence.

SammyFish has seen

SammyFish is typing

SammyFish: So, how is everyone? Still keeping the same friend group?

Moon&Moore: Everyone's fine. Reese is still a dick, but that's Reese for you. Benji now goes by Amanda

SammyFish: Does he really?

SammyFish: She. Sorry.

Moon&Moore: It's okay. We all had a struggle with it. Yeah, no, went from Benjamin Edward to Amanda Elaine.

SammyFish: That's cool. Not really surprising cause she was very feminine when you and I were together. Glad she figured stuff out.

Moon&Moore: yeah

Moon&Moore: may I say something that might be slightly out of line

SammyFish: Go ahead

Moon&Moore: you look really good

Moon&Moore: like fuck dude

Moon&Moore: and take that however you want I'm

Moon&Moore: it's a compliment, man

SammyFish has seen

Moon&Moore is typing

Moon&Moore: sorry

SammyFish is typing

SammyFish: It's fine. Compliments never hurt, I guess.

Moon&Moore: sorry

Moon&Moore: I'm gonna go to sleep

Moon&Moore: Goodnight, Clarence.

Moon&Moore has logged off

SammyFish is typing

SammyFish: Goodnight, Celeste.

~X~

"Hey, guess who I ran into the other day?" Sam calls, looking down at his hands. April's in the bathroom, fixing something with her outfit (she doesn't have to-he's told her at least fifteen times in the past ten minutes that she looked lovely) and he very briefly wonders if he should say before telling her. But being honest is important to him.

Honesty is what ruined your last relationship, a voice in the back of his head whispers. And Sam almost listens. But at the last moment, impulsiveness takes over and he asks.

"Who?" April asks, smiling at her reflection in the mirror, while she keeps fixing something (Is it her hair? It has to be something with her hair). Sam hesitates, then he looks down at his hands again.

"Um...Celeste."

The tension in the room effects both of them almost immediately as her smile drops and she stops moving.

"Celeste?" April asks, her voice monotone, and Sam regrets telling her he saw her again.

"Yeah," he swallows. "Yeah, Celeste."

"Your ex-girlfriend." April states. Her tone of voice doesn't make it a question.

"The very one."

"The one who cheated on you."

"That's...that's her, yeah."

April doesn't respond for a few moments, and Sam's worried that she's angry, but then she finally comes out of the bathroom and he gathers enough courage to look up. She doesn't look angry, but she doesn't look too excited at the idea of Sam meeting up with his former girlfriend. Her features are sharply accented by dark makeup and almost blood red lips. The short red dress hugs her figure nicely, and Sam feels like he's almost underdressed, with just dress pants, shirt, and tie.

April stares at him for a few good moments, and Sam waits for her to blink, to move, to say something, but she doesn't.

"What?" Sam finally has the courage to ask.

"Did you talk to her?" April finally asks.

"A little bit," Sam admits.

"About?"

"I asked her if she was keeping the same friend group," Sam starts. "We saw each other at the theater, so it was mostly just us apologizing."

April still doesn't move from the doorway, and it's just Sam and April staring at each other for a very long time. Finally, April lets out a long sigh, then reaches over and turns off the bathroom light.

"What?" Sam asks, although the tone of his voice makes it more of a statement, because he already knows the answer to his question.

"Nothing," April responds, and confirms Sam's suspicions as she starts to walk out the door. "Let's go enjoy dinner."

Sam can already feel the weight of the argument they're about to have on his chest as he sighs, then runs his hand through his hair and follows April to the car.

~X~

Ring.

Ring.

Ring.

Click.

"...hello?"

"...hi."

"...you're not supposed to call, Clarence. Not unless if it was-"

"Life or death, yeah I remember, look, can you...can you come out tonight? I just...did not have a good night, and I'd love to just... talk. To you. I really... just... please."

"..."

"Celeste, I swear to God-"

"If you can pick me up, I'll be ready to go in five. I have a gift card to Baskin' Robbins, and I have a feeling we're gonna need it."

~X~

"I'm really sorry about April," Celeste says. "From what I've known, you really... you really liked her."

Somehow they ended up in his car, both of them with ice cream and looking depressed as hell. Celeste had just thrown on a grey hoodie and blue sweatpants, and Sam hadn't even changed out of his dress shirt, just taken off his tie and thrown on the plaid jacket in the back of his truck. They had finished their ice cream about ten minutes ago, and they were just-

Sitting.

In his truck.

Dangerously soon after breaking up with his girlfriend.

There was no way this was going to end well.

Sam shrugs, then leans back in his seat. "It's okay," he starts. "It... it was a super unhealthy relationship, you know? It just... we were gonna end up here no matter what."

"It still sucks though," Celeste says as she leans back too. "All breakups suck," she adds much more quietly. It's like a roundhouse kick in the gut to Sam, and he doesn't have the heart to tell her that April broke up with him because she was paranoid about Celeste.

"I'm... also really sorry," Sam says as he turns to face her. "For breaking up with you."

Celeste offers a weak smile and continues to stare up at the roof of his truck. "It's really okay," she responds. "What else could you do?"

"I mean, we could've had an open relationship."

"Yeah, cause you totally like sharing."

Sam laughs a little, and she finally turns to look at him and smiles back at him.

And they're staring.

Making eye contact.

And still staring.

Her eyes were really, really pretty.

Oh, for fuck's sake.

~X~

He'll never remember how they ended up there in years to come, but they've ended up in her room in the dark with her fairy lights on and she's laughing like the last year of them being apart never happened, and he's sitting on her bed and laughing too and somehow she's moved so she's basically on top of him and he just broke up with April what the fuck was he doing but he still had the balls to ask-

"Do you remember what our first kiss was like?"

She pauses, then slowly grins and shakes her head.

"Want a reminder?"

"Yes, please," she whispers.

And he very briefly presses his lips against hers.

And holy shit.

He barely finishes saying 'something like that' before she whines "Kiss me for real this time."

And man oh man, does he.


Notes:

- i started writing this about a year ago. only picked up again recently. i am apparently really really good at predicting the future