It was nearly two months later that Annie found herself standing outside Vivian's apartment door. Ben was dead, work was only just now settling back into the controlled chaos that Joan seemed to thrive on and Danielle was doing okay. Basically, it was the first chance Annie's had to catch her breath since she'd watched Jai send Vivian back to America.
At the time Annie had been too exhausted to really take in all that had happened. But then Ben came back and everything got fucked up and then... Annie sighs and pushes those thoughts away, trying to forget the look on his face. The point is, Annie had felt something with Vivian. A connection. One out-of-her-depth woman to another. And Vivian wasn't a bad person, Annie could tell that even before she'd heard her reasons. So here Annie stood. In front of Vivian's door. She should probably knock.
The door opened, Vivian's face lit up with a cautious smile. "Annie?" Like she wasn't really sure that Annie was actually there.
For no good reason, Annie felt herself blushing. "Hey, Vivian." Her own voice sort of quiet. "I just thought I'd..." But she wasn't really sure what to say next.
Luckily Vivian did. "Come in, come in!" She reached out and wrapped her hand around Annie's arm, gentle little hand. "I've been going nuts and I wanted to talk to you and say thanks for everything you did, but everyone was saying that I should just focus on 'starting over'." Annie watched bemused as Vivian actually made the air quotes with her pinkie fingers.
"Would you like something to drink?" Vivian asked as they sat down on her small couch together. She was sort of vibrating in place, but smiling that cute little grin that Annie had liked right from the start.
Annie nodded, smiling back at Vivian in what she hoped was a confident manner. "Soda?"
"Oh sure, yes!" Vivian popped up like she was spring-loaded. "I've got Sprite and Coke, they were on sale!" She was in the kitchen now, the fridge door open as she reached for the drinks. "I know I should probably get diet, but I don't really drink that much soda anyway."
Annie smiled, "Coke will do." And, after Vivian was sitting next to her again, cans popped open. "I don't think you really need diet anything, Vivian." Annie made sure she caught Vivian's eyes when she said it. And then it was Vivian's turn to blush.
A few not entirely comfortable moments later, Vivian asked, "So, not that I'm not happy to see you and all, but was there something you... I mean why did you come by?"
Annie set her drink down on the coffee table and turned toward Vivian. "I just felt like," she shrugged a little shrug, "we connected over there. You know? And with everything that was going on then with you and then what happened for me when I got home, there was just no time to sort of stop and talk."
"Talk?" Vivian looked a little confused. "Talk about what?"
"Things," Annie said with a laugh. "I don't know. I just liked you. Like you. You're an interesting person, Vivian, and I thought you know. We could get to know each other. Maybe hang out?"
A huge smile lit up Vivian's face even as her cheeks reddened, "I'd really like that, yeah."
"Great!" Annie said, smiling too. She grabbed her soda and raised it up, "To new friends?"
Vivian giggled and raised her own can, "Definitely! To new friends."
After that first day, Annie and Vivian talked a lot more. Mostly on the phone as Annie drove home from work. Yeah, yeah, she knew she was being an unsafe driver but she didn't want Danielle to ask any questions and calling from work was obviously not possible. No one had said Annie couldn't contact Vivian. No one had said she couldn't use her clearance to find where they'd moved Vivian after her debriefing. But it felt like it was implied in the way Jai had looked at her strangely the one time she'd asked about Vivian.
So they talked on the phone and Vivian was a surprising font of ridiculous jokes that were actually more of a threat to Annie's driving than just being on the phone. On the plus side, Annie's abs had never felt so toned.
Annie was pulling into her driveway one night a few weeks later when Vivian asked, "So, the phone is fun and all, but I was thinking we should do something more sometime." Her voice trailed off and up. Making it a question more than a statement. "We could go to a movie maybe? I heard that Angelina Jolie movie was fun."
Annie was quiet for a moment. Because while yes, she liked talking with Vivian. And while she probably wouldn't really get in trouble if Joan found out they'd been talking. Sometimes, when Annie was just laying in bed at night, sometimes she thought she might like Vivian a bit more than just as a friend and she wasn't sure what to do with that.
"Or, you know, not." Vivian's voice sounded nervous and timid and damn that's not what Annie wanted.
"No," Annie said firmly. "I mean, yes, I'd like that. A movie would be good." She was so damn smooth, letting her head press against the steering wheel in lieu of knocking her head into it.
"Oh, great!" Vivian's sparkle returned full force. "Well, I mean...I'm pretty free these days, so whenever's good for you?"
Annie thought quickly, weekend coming up, so far nothing on the schedule from work and Danielle would buy that she was going out with friends, probably.
"How about Saturday afternoon?" she offered. "We could grab lunch and then go see the movie?"
"Terrific!" Vivian replied. "I'll get the details and email you?"
"That's great," Annie took a breath, she could do this, just friends, totally. "That'll be great."
"Okay, well..." Vivian was never good at ending calls. "Until tomorrow!"
"Definitely," Annie said warmly. Because if nothing else, Vivian was turning out to be a really good friend and she wasn't going to let her think otherwise.