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She had to be like, really fucking oblivious, Evie decided.

Really, there was no other conclusion to be drawn. Jay used to always tell her that Mal was y'know, a tad slow when it comes to these things, but this was ridiculous. Evie knew she wasn’t ignoring all the stares being thrown her way, all the subtle-but-not-so-subtle comments, all the vague invitations and too friendly touches, because they had been going on for far too long for the blonde to simply overlook them. No, she was aware, she just wasn’t aware of what they meant.

Evie had realized this while laying flat on her back on Carlos’ floor after school one evening. Her legs and arms had been stretched out into an odd, starfish-esque pose, while her head was propped at a dramatic angle so she could stare at Carlos with her big, grumpy brown eyes while she agonized over the past week. Or, more specifically, while she agonized over why Mal didn’t just get it.

“Maybe she just doesn’t like me,” Evie huffed, a pout perfectly adorning her features, as her nails repeatedly scratched at the carpet in Carlos’ living room.

“Don’t be dumb,” was the response, and Evie lolled her head to the side so her eyes could meet Carlos’ when he next spoke. “Of course she likes you. You’re awesome.”

Evie rolled her eyes at the lame response, even as a small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. She loved Carlos, truly she did, even with his terrible advice and subpar reassurances. “Thanks,” she drawled, not sounding entirely convinced.

“Besides,” he continued, his attention returning to the laptop he had had propped up on his thighs. “If she doesn’t, then maybe she’s not the one for you. Her loss.”

Evie nodded, knowing the words were true for the most part. But she figured that if Mal didn’t like her, she’d still be pining over the blonde for forever because Evie has, what Uma likes to call, dumb bitch energy when it comes to love. And it didn’t really help that she had already liked Mal for forever , even if she’d only realized it early in the previous year.

See, Uma, Mal, and Evie had been friends since they were four, when Mal had thrown a pudding cup at Uma during a day at summer camp and it had exploded and gotten all over her clothes. Evie, being the kind soul she is, had stumbled over to her, napkins brandished and ready to use and had helped clean her up. Mal had stuck up her nose at the two of them for all of ten minutes, until she turned a guilty eye in their direction just as Evie finished wiping down Uma’s face, and she had waddled over to apologize through the frown now present on her features. The three had been inseparable since.

They met Jay and Carlos in middle school. Evie had been seated in the back of her math class, where she had to squint at the blurry letters on the board because she wasn’t wearing her glasses - her mother would never let her leave the house with them, too concerned about how they made her daughter look instead of whether or not she could see - when Carlos had sat beside her. The boy was clearly younger then her (she’d learn later that his mum put him in school two years early, somehow) but he wasn’t stupid. He caught on rather quickl that something was off about Evie, and eventually when he figured it out, he’d smiled, shook his head, and started to softly relay any and all written instructions to her.

She invited Carlos to eat lunch with her, Mal and Uma that day. Upon arrival, however, Evie was rather surprised to find a tall, rather burly looking boy sitting at the table between her two best friends. Mal had told her how she and Uma had been paired up with the boy, whose name was Jay, for PE. Apparently, their team had smoked everyone else during the obstacle relay, and Mal and Uma had drug Jay along to lunch with them as he was, in fact, new to the school and severely lacking in the friends department.

The five of them were a close knit group ever since, and even as their circle widened in high school, with the additions of people like Lonnie and Ben, it was still the five of them at its core. And sure, Mal and Evie were always close. Closer than most best friends, maybe. But Evie hadn’t really thought about why until the end of winter break during freshman year. At that point, she had been out to her friends for a few months, receiving only support and love (and a laughed filled yeah, me too from Carlos and Uma) and everything was going well. The five of them were getting along great, they only had a few more weeks left in first semester, and Evie was content.

It had been Jay’s idea to have a bonfire. To celebrate the end of their first winter break as high schoolers, he had said, convincing everyone within seconds. He’d supply the drinks, Carlos was on music, and Uma was going to do her best to convince one of the upperclassmen to drive them all to the beach (and truly, bless Harry for being all swoony and in love with Uma. He had swung by everyone’s houses with his beat up truck around 7, grunting feebly most of the time but smiling whenever Uma leaned out the window to yell get in losers we’re going to the beach.)

Around seven thirty, the fire was ablaze, Evie was sufficiently buzzed, and it seemed everyone was having a good time - Harry included. Uma felt bad about kicking him out of the hang out after he had driven them all, so after some pointed looks (mostly at Mal) she had invited the older boy to stay.

The five of them got along pretty well with Harry, which only served to lighten the mood even more, and eventually they were talking and laughing like they had grown up with him. It didn’t take long for Harry and Jay to challenge each other to an arm wrestle, the boys they were, and Carlos and Uma felt like it was their personal jobs to cheer on either party, while Mal and Evie were content to sit on a log together, watching the boys over top of the fire in front of them.

Evie was laughing at the weird cheer Uma had concocted, something about captains and first mates, when Mal had leaned her head on the taller girls shoulder and sighed, her breath coming in nervous increments.

“I have something to tell you,”

Evie frowned at the tone of the girls voice, hand finding Mals on the log and giving it a reassuring squeeze. “Okay,” she hummed, letting Mal take the lead.

It was a few more seconds before Mal spoke again, but Evie knew she was thinking about her words. She was swiping her thumb over Evies knuckles repeatedly, an action the brunette had come to know as Mal trying to sooth her nerves. Evie was patient, letting Mal take her time, and allowing her own eyes to drift back over to the boys. Jay and Harry were on round 3 out of 5 of their arm wrestling challenge-turned-competition, but Evie was only half paying attention now, mind otherwise preoccupied. When Mal finally spoke, it wasn’t what she expected.

“I slept with Audrey.”

Evie didn’t react for a moment, letting the words sink in. She nodded slowly then, pursing her lips and trying to school her expression into something neutral, because it felt like someone had just taken all the air out of her lungs and then followed it up by punching her in the gut and leaving her to writhe on the ground. “Okay,” she said slowly, testing her voice.

Truth be told, she hadn’t even known Mal liked girls (even though the PVRIS phase she went through in 8th grade was far too intense and far too long for Mal to be straight, but that was a story for another day) so not only was Evie trying to be cool and chill because Mal had slept with Audrey of all people, but she was also trying to play the role of supportive best friend because the blonde had, essentially, just come out to her.

Evie didn’t say anything for a while after that, knowing that Mal had to come into this conversation on her own, and that she would, when she was ready.

Eventually, the blonde piped up, eyes trained on the way Carlos was warming up Jay’s shoulders in the way wrestling coaches do, just with a little more tenderness and warmth then was usually present between the two of them. Mal would’ve quirked an eyebrow at that, if this had been any other day, any other time. “Are you mad?”

Evie was surprised at the question, and Mal must’ve caught on, because she pulled Evie’s hand, the one that she had been holding previously, into her lap with a gentle tug. She turned it so her palm was to the sky, and began running her fingers over the creases in the taller girls hand. “It’s okay if you are,” she added on, laughing lightly and shaking her head against Evies shoulder, where it had been leaning. “I’m a bit mad too. I don’t know why I did it, really. We were paired for a project and I was at her house trying to finish it and she was just being so annoying, you know how Audrey gets. But it was dumb and I’m an idiot-”

“You’re not an idiot,” Evie exhaled, effectively cutting Mal off with just four words. Mals fingers stilled against Evie’s palm, waiting for the rest of the sentence with baited breath. “And I’m not mad. I’m glad you told me.”

Mal nodded a bit. Her fingers resumed their stroking, just as Jay, Carlos, Harry and Uma returned to the log set up they had going on; Harry looking defeated and Jay beaming as Carlos clapped him on the back.

They sat like that for a while, listening to Uma tell them about her last crazy shift she had worked at her mom’s diner, commenting and laughing along with everyone else when the occasion arose. Eventually, the conversation died down again. Carlos preoccupied himself with his phone, occasionally laughing and leaning over to show Jay whatever dumb text post he had just stumbled across, while Harry and Uma where talking about their mutual friend Gil, and his two older twin brothers.

Evie and Mal hadn’t moved from their position since the rest of their gang had arrived back, content to sit in easy silence, despite the biting feeling steadily growing in Evies gut the more and more she thought about Mal sleeping with Audrey. The problem was less that Mal had slept with Audrey, and more that Mal had slept with Audrey, Evie came to realize, but still, she couldn’t quite place why that’s what was bothering her. Maybe she was just being an overprotective best friend. Maybe this is how all best friends felt when their friends slept with people who were less than ideal. Maybe this is how all best friends felt when their friends slept with people, period. But the brunette pursed her lips, eyebrows furrowing, knowing that wasn’t the whole truth, at least. Although she couldn’t conjure up any other reason for this jealousy - jealousy. Jealousy. Jealousy. Evie was jealous .

It wasn’t until she woke up at 4am that she realized why.

(She had tried calling Carlos to no avail, knowing how the boy had an actual sleep schedule, what a weirdo, but Uma answered on the second ring. When Evie told her what was happening, panic but also gleeful realization lacing her words, Uma had just laughed at her. Yeah, you dumb bitch, I know, - she had wheezed, and Evie could picture her wiping tears from her eyes - you’re really not fucking subtle.)

It had been over a year since this revelation, and Mal still didn’t have a fucking clue. Harry had once called Mal emotionally stunted, after Ben had grinned dumbly at her and asked her to go to homecoming with him - Ben being the last to catch on to the things Evie was feeling - and Mal had nodded, shrugged, and told him Gil was going to pick her, Jane and Evie up around 6 if he wanted to catch a ride with them. It was only later, with Mal squished between Ben and Evie in the back of Gils car, that Mals eyes had widened. (Ah fuck. Did you mean with me with me? She had sworn, after Ben had made a move to hold her hand. Ben grinned sheepishly and nodded, while Gil and Jane laughed at them loudly and Evie placed a comforting hand on Mals thigh, ignoring how her heart sped up when Mal had laced their fingers and squeezed her hand in thanks. They held hands the entire ride to the homecoming venue, and Evie silently thanked whatever god there was for the dim lighting in Gils car, because she was beyond sure she was going red in the face.)

Evie had let that incident of dumb oblivion slide though, adding it up to the fact that Mal thought of Ben like a brother, and she had assumed he thought the same of her, so it never occurred to her that his invitation to homecoming had other implications.

It was a different situation with Evie though. At least, she thought it was.

Evie and Mal had been holding hands since the beginning of their tentative friendship in summer camp, so that was nothing new. What was new, however, was the way Evie had begun entwining their fingers after her feelings had come into fruition, trying to convey her fondness to Mal without actually saying what she meant outloud. Mal had shot her a curious look the first time she had done it, but Evie had only shrugged, not trusting her voice, and it seemed to be enough for Mal because she never asked again. In the end, the blonde had caught onto the habit rather quickly, and suddenly it was less Evie trying to tell the blonde how she felt, and more just how the two of them were. Attached at the hip, hands entwined, the best of best friends.

So Evie tried other things. She’d let her eyes linger on Mals face a little too long after the blonde would say something snarky, or funny, or sweet, or anything at all, really. She’d tuck her hair behind her ear, lay gentle kisses to paper cuts, let her fingers drift flirtily over Mals arms. She’d invite her out to dinner, just the two of them, or prepare park picnic baskets and feed her strawberries. She’d drop innuendos sometimes, both mildly horrified at herself and mildly pleased, but Mal would barely react. She’d flirt back, even, but in a way that was just so Mal that Evie still felt like nothing more than a best friend.

Evie didn’t know what else she could do, really, short of telling Mal herself.

Sometimes, the girl would catch Mal staring at her in class, turning away sharply when Evie would make eye contact, as if she’d been caught. She always had this look on her face, and Evie could never place it. It frustrated her to no end. Usually, Evie could read Mal like an open book. It was something she prided herself on even, as it was a feat few others had accomplished. When Evie had dyed her entire head a beautiful shade of royal blue, the look had sprung to Mals eyes instantly, and it stayed with her as she tucked a strand of hair behind Evies ear and smiled at her with all the love and care in the world, and Evie had to really hold herself back from just leaning in and kissing her right there.

But then Mals hand had gone, and she was saying something about how all her friends had cool hair, and the look dissipated just as fast as it had come.

Sometimes, it would sparkle to life when Evie got really passionate about whatever topic was on her mind, whether it be chemistry or fashion or whatever. Other times, it would illuminate when Evie would step out of the closet - no pun intended - to show off her new, upcycled look. Every time, Mal would be watching her, green eyes wide and enraptured, but then she’d blink and say something that was so platonic that it would leave Evie dizzy.

But Evie couldn’t just tell her. That was absurd.

After all, it was completely one sided.

(Probably.)

 


“Do you think there’s a chance Mal likes me?”

Jay looked up at Evie from where he had been untying his shoes, hair falling into his eyes and sticking to his sweaty forehead. He was the last one in the locker room after lacrosse practice. Always was. And Evie was the first one to the locker room before track. Always is.

After a second of studying Evies face, Jay shrugged. “Yeah,” he hummed. Seemingly satisfied with that answer, the boy went back to untying his shoes and tugging off his lacrosse gear.

A silence followed his statement, and when he looked back at Evie after tugging off his uniform, he sighed. Evie was looking at him like he had just kicked her puppy. Jay supposed it had to do with the fact he had given her a very unconvincing one word reply, but it could’ve also been related to their subject of discussion. It was almost always how Evie looked nowadays whenever Mal was brought up in conversation, and it didn’t break Jay’s heart as much as it saddened him.

So, with yet another sigh, the bigger boy scooted over on the bench he was sitting on and patted the empty space, signaling for Evie to sit as he went to tug on a shirt. The blue haired girl did, after a moment’s hesitation, and Jay shifted his body so he was facing her. “You and Mal have been close ever since we were kids, Eves. There’s a reason for that.” he hummed, tone much gentler than Evie was used to. “You’ve always been Mal and Evie. Evie and Mal. A duo.”

Evie shook her head, eyes falling to her lap, mouth twisting in a frown. “Our friendship has always come first,” she said quietly, almost sounding like she was surrendering to her enemy after a long fifty year battle.

“Exactly,” Jay shrugged, reaching out and hitting Evies shoulder lightly with the back of his hand, getting her to look up at him. “What could it hurt to talk to her, then?”

“She’s my best friend Jay.” the girl said, surprising herself with how stable her voice was, despite the tears springing to her eyes. “Telling her would change everything.”

Jay smiled lopsidedly, shuffling a bit closer to Evie and pulling her into him gently. It didn’t take very much, really. Evie felt like a dead weight. “For the better,” he rumbled, resting his head on top of Evies, as the girl pressed her head against Jay’s chest.

“You don’t know that,” her voice was muffled by the material of Jay’s shirt, but she still sounded so much like a ghost of the Evie Jay knew and loved. The boy sat back when Evie pulled away from him, watching her swipe half heartedly at her cheeks, as if she was trying to hide the fact that she had begun crying.

But then her eyes met Jay’s, and there was something shining in them that let him know the next thing the blue haired girl said would rock him to his core.

“Why haven’t you told Carlos how you feel?”

Jay’s mouth dropped open. His eyebrows furrowed together, hands clenched, and suddenly it was incredibly hard to look Evie in the eyes. The girl was patient, watching Jay struggle to find his words calmly, the blotches of red that had appeared on her face after crying slowly beginning to disappear now that she had something else to focus on.

Jay let out a nervous laugh though, but it didn’t last long. He forced himself to meet Evies eyes again, swallowing hard before opening his mouth to say something against what Evie had insinuated.

“Don’t,” the blue haired girl started, cutting Jay off before he had even gotten the chance to speak. “I’ve seen the way you look at him, act around him. I may have dumb bitch energy when it comes to my love life, but I’m not stupid when it comes to my friends.” she paused, scoffing at herself. “Most of my friends. Actually, all my friends, except one.”

Jay nodded slowly, pressing his lips into a fine line while he thought of something to say. He felt like a deer in headlights. He had been convinced he was being subtle, that no one had caught onto the longing looks and the fiercely overprotective nature he had around the boy.

But Evie had. Of course Evie had. She was like a fucking psychic or something, Jay was sure.

“I can’t tell him,” he said, his voice coming across as uncharacteristically small, and he licked his lips, clearing his throat. “I can’t, Eves.”

“Why not?” Evie prompted.

Jay looked incredulous, eyes widening as he shook his head. Wasn’t it obvious? “He’s my best-”

“He’s your best friend.” Evie finished.

Jay gaped at her a bit, blinking a few times. Evie looked as though she had just solved a tough chemical equation (and well, maybe she had) and all Jay could do was stare. He had basically walked into that one. Part of himself couldn’t believe he’d echoed Evies own words back at her, and the other part found it perfectly comical. Of course he had.

“You get it now, don’t you?” Evie murmured, turning away from Jay with a dramatic shake of the head, lips parting to let out a breathless laugh that was rather devoid of any humor. “I can’t tell Mal for the same reasons you can’t tell Carlos.”

Jay was silent for a moment, frowning as he mulled over what Evie had said. What he had said. He felt like he had a whole new understanding for Evie’s situation. He hadn’t known he liked Carlos for as long as Evie had, and it was already torturous. He couldn’t imagine feeling like this for a year and a half. The mere thought made his stomach squirm.

But another glance at Evie and her hunched over, defeated form, made him sigh and grit his teeth.

“Tell Mal,” he said, voice firm and unwavering, even as Evie whipped her head to look at him. “Tell Mal, and I’ll tell Carlos.”

Evie looked at the boy like he had gone crazy, eyebrows furrowing and eyes blinking at a rapid speed, trying to process what he had just said.

Clearly, it took a while, because before she knew it, Lonnie and Chad had stepped into the locker room. Then Ben. Then Harry’s younger sister CJ. Slowly, the space began filling with light chatter as the rest of the track team filed into the room, causing Jay to stand, taking the entrance of the other athletes as his cue to leave. He swung his gym bag that had all his lacrosse gear in it over his shoulder, jostling it lightly, before he settled his focus on the exit.

Evie watched him shuffle haphazardly through the growing crowd of students, lips twisted to the side in an expression of utmost contemplation. Maybe she’d never have to tell Mal, if she waited for Jay to tell Carlos first.

But then Jay had looked over to her when he reached the door to the locker rooms, determination and something else Evie couldn’t quite place shining in his eyes, and Evie found herself nodding.

“Okay,” she breathed, though she knew Jay couldn’t hear her. But the boy seemed to understand, because he gave her a sympathetic smirk and a thumbs up, and then he had jetted off.




It came as no surprise when, later that week, Uma announced that she and Harry were dating.

“Really?” Mal snarked, rolling her eyes and throwing a piece of popcorn at her friend. “With the way you two were cuddled up, I never would’ve guessed.”

Uma just stuck her tongue out at the blonde, and pressed closer to Harry, if even humanly possible. “He’s my man candy and it’s time everyone knew it.”

“Believe me, we knew it.” It was Carlos this time, sitting on a bean bag at Jay’s feet, his laptop propped open on his stomach.

The six of them (and Gil) were all crammed onto Uma’s living room floor. Her mother had a late shift at the diner that night, and the girl had invited her friends over to “watch a movie, or something, I dunno.” Jane, Lonnie and Ben couldn’t make it (something about yearbook committee, or football, or the graveyard shift - honestly no one was really sure because Uma was a shit listener, but the memo was they couldn’t make it) but the rest of them had shown up at Uma’s around 4pm, with snacks and drinks and dumb board games that Mal had scoffed at.

It took a fair amount of bickering for the seven of them to pick a movie to watch, but they eventually settled on a movie called Tonight You’re Mine that Harry had been pushing for. As far as Evie could tell, it was just the right amount of feel good, with could-be-better music and subpar action, but the dynamic between the two main characters, Adam and Morello, keep you watching.

Except, Evie would never figure out if this were true, because the movie was never actually put on.

Sure, the gang had spent the better part of thirty minutes debating what film was worthy of their time, but Gil had only made it to the Netflix start up menu when a pillow hit him across the back of the head, causing him to lose his balance and topple forwards onto the carpeted floor. He craned his neck back with a grunt, eyes falling on Jay, who was looking just the slightest bit sheepish. “Why?”

The boy shrugged awkwardly. “Sorry,” he grumbled, raising a hand and gesturing in the vague direction Evie knew that Harry and Uma were sitting in. “It was meant for them.”

Gil frowned, swiveling his head around and sure enough -

“Fuckin..” it was Mal. The blonde had exited the room when Gil had slid onto the floor to switch the TV from cable to Netflix, and she now strode back into the room with a glass of water firmly clasped in her hand. “Get a fucking room you nimbuses.”

Evie couldn’t hold in her chuckle, watching as Uma pulled away from Harry, looking affronted. The two had ended up in the same love seat at some point during the thirty minute debate, but it seemed only Jay had noticed when Uma had made herself very at home in Harry’s lap; her hands in his hair while she - from what Evie could see - ate his face.

“Did you just insult me by calling me an old broomstick model?” she huffed, looking more offended at that comment than the fact she and Harry had been interrupted. “Because I, clearly, am a fucking firebolt.”

Mal pursed her lips, shaking her head a bit as she slid onto the couch beside Evie, tucking her legs under herself and partially leaning on Evies bicep. “I dunno dude,” she started, shrugging lightly. “I think nimbus is appropriate.”

Uma rolled her eyes, flipping Mal off instead of berating her so she could go back to… seriously was she eating his face?

Whatever it was, it was short lived, as seconds after Uma had gone back in, she was hit in the head with the pillow that had been thrown at Gil. When she turned back to the group, eyes raised in a silent question, her eyes immediately made contact with Jay - who looked particularly pleased that the pillow had hit it’s target this time.

“You’re all children,” Uma grumbled, turning around this time to face the rest of them. “Let me kiss my mans in peace.”

Harry frowned. “I feel used.”

Uma laughed, hand finding Harry's arm and patting it reassuringly. As if it was instinctual, a dopey grin spread across Harry's face as he snaked an arm around Umas waist. Evie watched the two with a small smile, feeling warm at the sight of two of her closest friends. She was glad they had found each other. She was even more glad that they seemed actually happy together.

(She didn't think about the pang of lonely wanting at that thought - or the green eyes and blonde hair that immediately came to mind when she thought of together.)

The blue haired girl swiveled her head to look at Mal then, because why not you know, Evie had nothing to lose really. Her brown eyes fixed themselves onto the frown the girl had slipped on, but it wasn't long before they were roaming the rest of her face.

The blonde was squinting her eyes at the pair, as though she was thinking very very hard about something. Brown orbs traced over her fallen crest, down the length of her cheeks, and across the slight purse of the girls lips. She looked like she was searching for the right words, maybe, and Evie found herself waiting for her to speak, almost with baited breath - though she wasn’t quite sure why. There was just something about the look that crossed over Mals face when she was concentrating that put Evie on the edge of her seat. Her eyes flitted across the blonde’s face once more, searching for details in the laugh lines and drinking in her furrowed brows, committing the image to memory. She hadn’t meant to be staring this long, and she knew that someone must have noticed by now, but tearing her eyes away proved near impossible. That is, until Mal drew a breath to say something and it shook Evie out of her trance.

“I could never be in a relationship with a friend. It’d be too weird.”

Evie wasn’t sure when she had snagged her lip between her teeth, but she was acutely aware of the taste of blood on her tongue. It felt like she had been plunged into a 3am silence - the kind where you hear a light ringing in your ears because your brain is trying to generate noise, because without it you feel like you could suffocate on the heavy quiet. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. She was mildly aware of the concerned looks she was receiving from Carlos, Jay and Gil, but all she could focus on were Mals words.

I could never be in a relationship with a friend.

Suddenly, Evie had pulled herself to her feet. The world returned back to a regular speed again, and the deafening silence Evie had felt herself being engulfed in had gone, and she was plastering on a smile.

“Excuse me,” she breathed, hands brushing gently over the material of her shirt, as she looked at the varying expressions on her friends faces. Jay, Carlos, and Uma had identical looks of knowing concern, while a frown pulled at Harry’s features, Gil’s owlish gaze filled with sympathetic worry, and Mal... well.

Let’s just say Evie wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to breathe again after Mal’s gaze had sucked all the air out of her lungs.

The blue haired girl held fast though, smile barely wavering as she tiptoed through the group, only falling once she was safely locked inside Uma’s bathroom.

She wasn’t sure how much time had passed by the time Evie had made her way back to the living room. What she was sure of, however, were the tears quickly drying on her face. What she was sure of, was the itchy redness that was growing in her eyes. She was sure of the shuddering breaths she was taking, sure of the heaviness of her makeup smeared eyelids, sure of the finality of Mals words.

Sure that that was that. That was the end of things. Mal was her friend, first and foremost. Just like she had always been. Just like she always would be.

Evie didn’t step inside the living room when she got there, opting instead to stand outside the entry way. She stopped for a second, eyes roaming over her friends faces. Most of their gazes were glued to the screen, where Tonight You’re Mine had finally made its home, while others (Carlos) had their nose in a phone screen, tapping away furiously.

Evies gaze found Mal, as it always did, but the blue haired girl found herself momentarily stunned at the blonde’s expression.

Mal’s eyes were focused on the floor a foot of two in front of her, brow low, hands fiddling with each other, the image of concerned concentration. Evie would say she looked like she was solving a math problem if her brain was working right.

But it wasn’t, and as a matter of fact, neither was her heart.

The blue haired girl raised her knuckles to the inside of the arched doorway, making sure her hair was covering most visible aspects of her face before knocking.

Almost in union, six heads turned to look at her.

“Evie?” it was Carlos, voice dripping with concern.

“Uhm,” was the response he got. Evie winced at how croaky her voice sounded, and took a moment to clear her throat before she continued speaking, gaze locked on the ground by her feet. “Gil, will you drive me home?”




iMessage

 

Big Bad Mal

Active now

 

Friday, May 12th

 

[8:23pm]: u ok e?

 

[8:37pm]: gil told us he’s on his way back rn what’s going on ??

 

[8:40pm]: was it what i said ?

 

[8:41pm]: was it what uma said bc istg i will take her head off for u

 

Evie had been watching the messages appear on her lockscreen (which was, you guessed it, a photo of her and Mal) for the better part of half an hour. Gil had dropped her home not too long before they had begun, and he didn’t ask about the sudden need to leave and the mascara tears that painted Evies face. Instead, the boy drove to the sound of some gentle acoustic song that was being broadcasted on the radio, and then walked Evie to her door once he had pulled  into her driveway. Evie was grateful for the fact, and she had even smiled into Gils shirt as he hugged her goodbye, with promises that he’d be there if ever she needed.

So now, here she lay, arms and legs spread haphazardly across her silky blue duvet, hearing her heart break more and more every time her phone would ding. She’d stopped crying, which was a relief, but now she also found herself drained and horribly dehydrated and she couldn’t quite bring herself to step into her bathroom and clean her face. Half of her, the logic driven half, knew she’d regret that later - when her pores were clogged and her waterline was stained blue - but the other half, the emotional half, willed her to never set foot on the ground again, let alone out of her house.

Especially not while her phone consistently wrung every ten minutes with a new message from the girl who had unknowingly broke her heart.  

Evie didn’t know how long she stayed like that - staring at her ceiling, eyes itchy and half lidded, thinking of so many things at once her brain couldn’t quite organize everything, let alone make sense of it - but the sun had since set and her room had been bathed in a treacherously beautiful silver, catching on her duvet and reflecting off the full length mirror that was tucked away in the corner of her room. Below her, she could hear the shuffling of feet, followed by the unmistakable clatter of her mothers jewellery and the click of the front door opening and closing. Evie waited for the sound of the engine of the red Ferrari Dino in the driveway, listening for the way the tires crinkled against the gravelly pavement, before fading off into the distance as her mum made her way to whatever obscure location she went to every weekend (Evie figured she was probably in some beauty cult or something - and knowing her mother, it wouldn’t be all too surprising) leaving Evie alone with her bleeding heart.

Maybe despite her better judgement, Evie rolled onto her side, her first movement for what felt like hours, and pulled her phone towards her. She thumbed the home button and watched as the device illuminated, blinding her slightly, and she squinted at the notifications that adorned her screen.

 

iMessage

 

Big Bad Mal

Active 4m ago

 

Friday, May 12th

 

[9:22pm]: seriously e, are you okay?

 

[9:44pm]: evie?

 

[9:57pm]: Genevieve Grimhilde I know you’re not ignoring me.

 

[10:12pm]: I hate that you have your read receipts off.

 

[10:19pm]: Evie please just let me know you’re alive.

 

Mal had begun using capitalization, her words slowly morphing from u’s to yous as the concern for her best friend steadily increased, and Evie could feel the guilt of not answering creeping up on her. She knew she should send her a text -  even a very vague I’m okay would do - because Mal was her best friend and she didn’t know. But Evie wasn’t sure she could put herself through opening Mal’s texts right now and come out with her heart still beating and her lungs still working, so.

Instead, she unlocked her phone, scrolled through Instagram for a bit, and then set it aside to charge while she went to shower.

Evies mum still wasn’t home by the time she was out and dressed, and she wasn’t home when Evie was slipping under her duvet around 12:30am, having spent the last two hours idly listening to music and experimenting with nail polishes. She had meant to get a head start on her physics and chem homework, but when she held her textbook open on her desk, pencil at the ready, she found her mind drifting. After reading the same paragraph three times and still not registering the information given to her on polyatomic ions, she had sighed and set the book aside. Maybe she just ought to sleep.

Evie hadn’t checked her phone since her Instagram venture before showering, and she hadn’t intended to as she reached over to turn off her bedside lamp, but she did, because at this point, the blue haired girl had zero impulse control. Her hand found the power button just as she clicked off her lamp, and the screen illuminated with about a dozen texts from Mal.

 

iMessage

 

Big Bad Mal

Active 7m ago

 

Friday, May 12th

 

[10:33pm]: Uma said you just liked one of her posts

 

[10:37pm]: What’s going on E? For serious.

 

[11:24pm]: I’m headed home. Please just text me back.



Saturday, May 13th



[12:11am]: I’ll leave my ringer on. If you need me, please call.

 

[12:13am]: If you don’t need me, call anyway.

 

[12:19am]: Goodnight, Evie.

 

Evie stared at the messages a while, reading them over and over and over again until she could recite the timestamps by heart. It wasn’t fair that Mal was just so good, and kind, and really, the center of her whole universe. She made her feel warm, and giddy, and she’d give anything to hold her hand for even a second, but she also held the power to make or break Evie, and that was terrifying. Absolutely, horrifically, terrifying.

Which is why Evie shut off her phone, and turned over, ready for sleep to take her.



Mal woke up with the same sinking feeling she had gone to sleep with.

She knew, in her heart of hearts, that Evie hadn’t texted her back. But still, she allowed herself to hope a bit as she scooted to the end of her bed, reaching for her phone and grabbing it off the dr esser where it lay. She let herself exist in a moment of quiet oblivion before she checked her notifications - just breathing with her fingers crossed, her eyes falling shut, lip snagged between her teeth - but like all moments, it didn’t last, and Mal found herself staring at a very void lockscreen.

She heaved a sigh. “Disappointed but not surprised,” she mumbled, voice still groggy with sleep, her actions slow and clumsy as she opened her messaging app and typed out a hello.

 

iMessage

 

Fairest Loser

Active 14hrs ago

 

Saturday, May 13th

 

[9:38am]:

Good morning, please let me know you’re breathing.

 

She left at that, opting then to head downstairs and find some breakfast. She had mulled over the event of the previous nights so many times it had given her a headache, and she still couldn’t figure out what had upset Evie to the point of leaving. Had Uma and Harry made Evie uncomfortable? Mal frowned. Something about that didn’t add up - Evie was the advocator of love after all. She had told Mal as much once during freshman year, when Evie had ducked behind the blonde during a dodgeball match in PE to avoid being hit. Mal had laughed, catching a ball that was thrown at them and, subsequently, getting the person who had thrown it out of the game, but she still asked Evie what she was doing. I’m a lover, not a fighter, Evie had all but screamed, side stepping another ball that was whipped their way. Mal had shook her head fondly, but from then on, made it her personal job to protect Evie from any and all balls that were tossed, thrown, or whipped her way. So really, Mal heavily doubted that it was Uma and Harry’s face sucking extravaganza that had sent Evie home in tears.

There was just something that Mal was missing about the previous night, and she couldn’t quite figure out what it is.

She’d tried texting Evie throughout the day, asking her what she was doing, telling her she hoped she was okay, even inviting her out to lunch with Jay later on in the afternoon. Evie never answered. Every social media she had said Evie had only been online yesterday, and this unknown state of oblivious being Mal found herself in was growing more and more stressful by the minute. Lunch with Jay didn’t help. Mal was grumpy, and she was obsessively checking her phone every five minutes, only growing more grumpy whenever she found herself void of notifications. And like, contrary to common belief, Jay wasn’t dumb. He pieced together what was going on rather quickly.

“Are you texting Evie?” He had hummed, eyeing Mal over top of his large platter of fish and chips. The blonde frowned.

“I just,” she began, sighing dramatically and setting her phone down. “I wish she’d talk to me.”

“Is she not answering?”

Mal shook her head. “No,” she hummed, her tone lacking it’s usual smug pep. “Last time I saw her was when Gil went to drive her home last night, and, yknow, her entire like, demeanour didn’t really leave me feeling like she was in a good place.”

Jay nodded apprehensively, taking a bite of a large fry and then pointing the rest at her as he spoke. “You don’t know why she left?”

“I wish,” Mal slumped, almost full on pouting now. “I just.. I can’t figure out like, what would have caused such a reaction. I mean, I don’t know if you could really see her face but, dude, I swear she was crying her eyes out and it’s killing me that I don’t know why.”

Jay was silent for a moment, popping the rest of his fry in his mouth and wiping his hands off on his jeans. His eyes roamed Mals face, searching for some hint of knowing, something that would give away that on some subconscious level, she knew what was going on, that Evie’s reason for her sudden exit wasn’t just flying over the blonde’s head. But when all he found staring back at him was painful oblivion, he sighed. “Man, you really are dense.”

Mal gaped at him a bit, throwing her own fry at Jay, and watching as he easily moved and caught it in his mouth. “What the fuck does that mean?”

“It means,” he said, pausing for a moment to chew. “That the reason she left is really, really obvious, and you’re just not seeing it.”

Mal frowned. “Did she tell you?”

Jay shook his head, which elicited a defeated groan from Mal. “I’m just not as oblivious as you are,” he laughed, watching Mal slide further and further down in her seat, probably waiting for the concrete tiles of the diner they were in to consume her. “It’ll hit you like a train, one day.”

“Can’t you just tell me?” she huffed, and honestly, the desperate plea Jay could see shining in Mals eyes almost broke his heart enough for him to cave in and tell her, make things easier on the blonde.

Almost.

“Not for me to tell,” he had hummed, flagging down a waiter as he slipped out of his seat and fished out his wallet from his back pocket. “I’ve gotta run,” he slapped a twenty down on the table, chuckling as Mal whined her protest. “Got things to do, people to swoon.”

“I can’t believe you’re just gonna leave me to agonize over this,” Mal wrinkled her nose, scooping up the twenty and opting to use her debit card instead. “What kind of friend..”

Jay grinned. “The best kind.”

“Asshole,” Mal huffed, though it was only half hearted. She watched Jay weave through tables - bobbing and ducking around them until he got to the exit, where he paused to look over his shoulder at Mal.

Good luck, he mouthed.

Mal flipped him off.

So, to say the talk with Jay was unhelpful was making light of the situation, really. Mal had never found herself more confused. She had spent all of Saturday burning holes in her hardwood floor with her pacing, going over the conversation that had occured before Evie had left hundreds and hundreds of times. Jay had said it was really obvious, and yet, Mal was stumped, frustrated, and severely lost.

And Evie still wasn’t texting her back.

By midnight, she still hadn’t drawn a concrete conclusion. She had groaned loudly, falling back onto her bed and letting herself ride the bounce from the impact, just staring at her ceiling. Maybe she could burn holes in that too, if she kept thinking about this as hard as she had been moments ago.

But Mal was exhausted. Her head hurt, her eyes were heavy, and she was missing her best friend so much, it felt like a void had opened up inside her. This was the longest they’d gone without talking. Mal would know, because she’s noted every moment she’d spent with Evie since they met. They were her most important, and you didn’t just lose track of your most important moments. You cherished them. You cherished the eight hour phone calls, the late night snack runs, the dumb board games and the very probably illegal beach bonfires. You wrote about them - you vlogged, or tweeted, or instagrammed them. Every moment, the most important moments, Mal had documented - with pen, paper, via video or silly 4am tweet. They were there.

So she knew, with painful awareness, that this was the absolute longest she’d ever spent away from her brown eyed, blue haired best friend.

And it hurt that she didn’t know why.

That is, until about 4pm that Sunday.

Mal was thinking back over the conversation again because, well, what else was she going to do with her time. Her weekends were almost always filled with the blue haired girl. If she didn’t find herself at Evies house - either hanging upside down from her desk chair, or completely hogging Evies queen sized mattress - they’d be skyping. Mal most often found herself propped up on her elbows, grinning at her laptop screen while Evie talked animatedly about fashion, or chemistry, or something dumb that Uma did. Her spare time was always just filled with Evie, and now that she had spent 48 hours without her, she found her mind consumed with Evie as well.

(Really, that should’ve been her first warning sign, but Mal, being Mal, let it fly right over her head.)

Now, she was lying on the floor in the living room, limbs outstretched, fingers scratching at the carpet she was splayed across, her face twisted into a look of complete and utter concentration. She strained to remember every action, every line of dialogue, anything that would’ve made Evie uncomfortable, anything at all.

She had run this scene so many times though, and she had never ever managed to pinpoint something. She’d replayed herself walking into the room with a glass of water, calling Harry and Uma nimbuses, watching them break apart from their love fest so Uma could say she was a firebolt. She remembered settling in next to Evie, which wasn’t unusual, and Uma calling them all children while Harry frowned. And, with shocking clarity, she could recall herself furrowing her brows and pursing her lips, thinking back to when Ben had asked her to homecoming in the fall. She immediately had interpreted the invitation as platonic, because the mere concept of dating Ben was weird. He was like a brother to her and she assumed he had thought the same. She thought about how she might’ve reacted if Jay had asked, or Lonnie, or Harry, and she figured she would’ve said about the same thing - she just couldn’t picture herself dating any of them. They were her friends, and that was it, point blank. So, naturally, she voiced her conclusion.

I could never be in a relationship with a friend.

And then Evie had left.

Mal frowned, once again coming to a dead end. Was it what she had said? If it was, then, why? Mal was positive Evie echoed the statement. The blonde couldn’t picture her best friend dating within their group anymore than she could picture herself doing so - even the thought of Evie with someone like, let’s say, Jane, made her absolutely sick to her stomach. Surely, Evie felt the same way. Who was there even to date? Lonnie, who, even though she was super cool and admittedly, very attractive, just wasn’t Evies type. Jane, with her perfect grades and shy personality, complimented Evies well, but they acted like sisters, not girlfriends. Uma, shudder, was Evies other best friend, and Evie was absolutely and completely not interested - she had even pushed for Uma and Harry to get together since the bonfire in their freshman year. And that left Mal, who -

Wait.

That left Mal, who smiled brilliantly at Evie every time the brown eyed girl laced their fingers. Mal, who caught Evie staring at her out of the corner of her eye whenever she’d turn away from her in class. Mal, who had spent every living, breathing moment with Evie by her side for the past dozen years. Mal, who would plop herself down on Evies lap for movie nights and wait for the girl to wrap her arms around the blondes waist, as per usual. Mal, who knew both she and Evie were happiest with Evies chin sitting snugly in the crook of Mals neck as she boiled pasta on the stove, the only dish Mal could make, and one of Evies absolute favorites because you’re the only one that makes it for me, M, so it's special. Mal, who wasn’t Mal without Evie.

Mal, who Evie looked at like she had hung the stars.

Shit.

Mal scrambled for her phone, arms and legs uncoordinated as she hoisted herself up from the living room floor, and stumbled over to the couch where she had haphazardly thrown the device earlier. She thumbed the power button, rolling her tongue over her teeth as she navigated her home screen, the picture of her, Uma, and Evie at the beach last August that she had set as her background watching her panickedly click her contacts app.

Uma was her second emergency contact, right under a certain blue haired, brown eyed princess, and she answered on the third ring.

“What’s up, loser.” she greeted, sounding both tired and intrigued.

Mals response was immediate, formulating without much thought. “Does Evie like me?”

Silence followed her words. Mal nervously balled her free hand over and over again, and she licked her suddenly very dry lips. She felt both simultaneously parched, and like someone had thrown her into a big basin of ice water. Maybe she was just making stuff up, trying to come up with an appropriate answer to her predicament. Maybe this was just what 48 hours without Evie felt like. Maybe, Uma would call her crazy, and that knot in her stomach, that felt suspiciously like hope, would dissolve and Mal would feel..

She swallowed thickly, closing her eyes as the realization dawned on her.

Uma would say no, and Mal would feel empty.

The thought was almost enough for Mal to hang up and never know the answer, because clearly, if the mere idea of one of your best friends saying that your other best friend didn’t like you was enough to make you feel like you existed within a black hole, than there was an entire other conversation to be held. One that involved some thorough backtracking, and far too many mushy, soft feelings for Mals taste.

But then Uma was laughing, and Mal found herself nearly paralyzed in fear. Until she spoke, that is. “Man, Harry was right, you are emotionally stunted.”

Mal groaned, desperately trying to ignore how her heart soared. “I’m so stupid.”

“At least you’re aware,” Uma cooed, and Mal could perfectly picture the sympathetic, yet somehow mocking expression her friend wore. But right now, that wasn’t her problem. Right now, her problem was that Mal had fucked up, big time, and she needed to fix it.

“What do I do?” she breathed into the phone, choosing to overlook how desperate she sounded, how much her lungs ached, and her hands shook with the weight of the statement. She needed to get to Evie somehow, someway, and, well, apologize maybe, but that sounded lame now.

There was silence on the other end of the line again, and the next time Uma spoke, any teasing lilt to her voice was gone. In its place was just sad knowing, something only someone who had known her as long as Uma had could project. “You like her, too,”

It was a statement, not a question, and Mal found herself nodding before the words had fully sunk in.

She caught herself though, because despite her earlier Evie centered remembrance, Mal hadn’t admitted it, let alone said it out loud. But the way Uma had voiced it, it just made sense, and everything slowly clicked into place for Mal.

She liked Evie.

Of course she did.

She probably always had, Mal figured, thinking back on everything. On how she had taken Evies hand on the drive to homecoming, after she had rejected Ben. How she had tucked Evie’s hair behind her ear after she had dyed it a beautiful, breathtaking shade of blue -  a natural instinct. How she stared at Evie from across the class for a little too long, a little too enraptured in her gentle beauty for it to be considered truly platonic. She thought of all the subtle-but-not-so-subtle comments, all the vague invitations and too friendly touches, all the stares and soft reassurances and the longing looks Mal had passed off for sympathetic naivety. She thought of this weekend, and the pure crushing loneliness of just being away from Evie, and she figured she really should have known better.

At least Jay was right about one thing. It really did hit her like a train.

“I like Evie,” Mal repeated, taking in the new (though, really, not so new at all) information. And she paused for a moment, just letting herself grin brilliantly at herself, her heart swelling to three times its size. She liked Evie, and  it felt like that’s just how it was meant to be, how the world had manifested, the natural progression of things. The sky was blue, the grass was green, Mal liked Evie, Evie liked Mal. Simple as that.

Uma was laughing at her again, but for once, Mal couldn’t bring herself to care, instead beaming quietly to herself as she let the realization sink in.

Until she realized that Evie was, yknow, MIA and it was kind of totally Mal’s fault.

“Fuck, Uma,” she was scrambling again, beginning to pace in the living room, her free hand tangling itself in her hair. “Dude I gotta, like, talk to her.”

“No shit Sherlock,” Uma hummed, and Mal could hear the groan of springs as Uma moved from, what she assumed, was her bed. “Did you try calling her?”

Mal shook her head, before she realized Uma wasn’t in fact there with her, and she cleared her throat instead. “She’s been ignoring me all weekend. She won’t answer my texts, I doubt she’d pick up if I called her. Besides,” Mal paused for a second, pulling the phone away from her face as she took a couple quick strides into the kitchen and squinted at the time on the stove. “It’s almost five, she’s about to go on a run.”

She could almost hear the gears turning in Uma’s head before she spoke. “Do you know her route?”

Mal frowned, confused. “Yeah? She’s forced me to do it with her loads of times.”

Uma seemed to consider this for a moment, leaving Mal in a puzzled silence as she took in her words. Then; “Harry and I will see you in 10. It’s time to get your girl.”

Mal was going to say something about how she wasn’t her girl (yet) when Uma hung up, and Mal was left with the comment hanging off her tongue. She wasn’t entirely sure what Uma was up to, but Mal figured she was going to be seeing Evie very, very soon, which was both simultaneously thrilling and absolutely nerve wracking. After all, Mal had no plan. But, she figured, skipping up the stairs to her room, seeing Evie was better than not seeing Evie, so she’d figure it out.

Nine minutes later, there was obnoxiously in sync honking from the street and repeated knocking on Mal’s front door, and the blonde found herself tumbling down the stairs (literally, tumbling. Mal was as uncoordinated as she was dense.) She had washed her face, put on a fresh pair of pants, and all in all felt a little more presentable as she opened the door. Uma nearly socked her in the face as she did, the girl having been prepared to knock again, but she, thankfully, missed by a hair.

“Finally,” she laughed, grabbing the blonde by the wrist and dragging her out the door. Harry’s pick up was parked half on the sidewalk in front of Mals house, the boy himself leaning over the passenger seat to see his girlfriend. “We’ve gotta dash, it’s starting to rain.”

Mal only had time to nod before she found herself stumbling down her driveway, barely managing to close the front door behind her as Uma pulled her along. The girl was right - the sky had begun spitting as the girls piled into the beat up truck, and Mal could feel the light haze of water droplets hanging in the air. She didn’t really think about how that meant she could be doing her whole apology-but-not-apology while sopping wet until Harry had pulled up to Evies house around five minutes later, and the gentle spitting had become a mild downpour.

Uma grimaced, squinting out the window, before she leaned over Mal and opened the passenger side door, all but shoving the blonde out into the rain.

“Have fun!” she had called, shutting the door after her. Mal turned on her heel to glare at her friend through the sealed window, already drenched. She pressed both hands to the glass, middle fingers shown off like they were a prize, just to remind Uma that she was the worst. Uma, in turn, stuck her tongue out at her, before gesturing with her hands, clearly telling Mal to get a move on.

So, Mal, soaked to the bone within seconds and with a growing knot of anxiety in her stomach, turned on her heal and began walking down the route she knew Evie ran around at a brisk pace. The sooner she found her, the better. And maybe they’d even end up on the other end of this without a cold.

Her boots sloshed and squeaked with water every step she took, though she barely noticed with how hard the rain was coming down. Her hair clung to her face and her clothes were slick against her torso, and somewhere along the way goosebumps had erupted across her arms and she was now hugging them close to her body, trying to salvage some warmth. She’d been walking for five minutes, and she still hadn’t found Evie. Maybe this was pointless. Maybe the brown eyed girl had checked the weather and had decided to not go for a jog. Maybe Mal should just turn around now and find Uma and Harry, demand that they drop her home.

What was she even supposed to say to Evie? I know you like me, sounded too confrontational, almost bordering on cocky, and we should talk made the familiar panic tied to that phrase already begin to build at the mere thought of the words. She could go for the simple I like you, or I’m sorry but Mal was, in case you hadn’t heard, kind of slow when it came to these things, so she immediately ruled out these statements. And that left, what?

(A million things, actually, but none that Mal thought were appropriate.)

She almost groaned. She was cold, wet, she couldn’t think straight - all unrelated, thank you very much - and she didn’t have a clue what to say, not that that was news. She almost lost her nerve. She couldn’t help but think that this was stupid, that she wouldn’t find Evie, that this was all a big miscommunication.

Until she rounded a corner, and suddenly she couldn’t think at all.

Because Evie was there, not even 10 feet in front of her, blue locks turned navy and heavy with rain.

She froze when she saw Mal, walking coming to an abrupt halt, probably not expecting to see her best friend here, in the rain, late in the day on a Sunday. Especially since Mal was very much an avoid your problems until they’re literally knocking on your door and then try climbing out the window anyway type person, and Evie had been ignoring her all weekend.  

(And also because Evie didn’t think Mal cared enough to come find her, which was dumb, because even if her feelings here unrequited, Mal was still her best friend, so.)

Nothing was said for a moment. Evie regarded the blonde with wide eyes, not entirely sure if she was seeing right, or if the rain was playing tricks on her eyes. Maybe it was the universe being its old, cruel self, manifesting her desperate hope into something almost tangible, almost real. Almost being the keyword here.

She had spent all day trying to forget about Friday, all weekend really. But she found that, no matter where she looked or where she turned, her mind would always make its way back to what Mal had said. So, instead of agonizing over the sentence, Evie had chosen to agonize what to say to Mal when she inevitably saw her at school that Monday - what excuse she’d use for not returning her texts or calls. She’d settled with something boring - her charger had broken and her phone was dead all weekend - but any and all thoughts of actually explaining to Mal right now, and being yknow, coherent as she did, completely left her as she took a step closer.

Mal didn’t move, but she didn’t react either. Which was weird, considering she seemed to be the one seeking Evie out, not the other way around. Typically, the brown eyed girl would assume that if you went out of your way to drive ten minutes to your best friends house in the rain, when you knew she would be outside jogging, you’d have some sort of plan, something you wanted to say, explain. But this was Mal she was talking about, and Evie knew better. The blonde had a nasty habit of diving head first into situations she was completely unprepared for. So, as per usual, Evie took the initiative, despite her vehement desire to avoid this confrontation altogether.

“Mal?” her voice was quiet, almost nonexistent under the onslaught of rain, but she knew Mal had understood her. She took another step.

“Um,” was the response Evie got. Evie blinked at Mal once, twice, waiting for more to the sentence, for a reason for her being here. Because really, Evie was beyond lost, and Evie was fucking smart, so that was like, wildly out of character for her. But Mal only looked like a deer in headlights, itching to bolt, but still rooted to the spot. Her green eyes were wide, regarding Evie like she was only just seeing her, almost looking like she needed to catch her breath.

Evie took another step.

She didn’t say anything this time, the distance between herself and her best friend significantly reduced. The girls stood nearly toe to toe, as close as Evie could get without wanting to either deck Mal in the face for being so dumb or pull her in because, well, it was Mal. The blonde had to crane her neck up just slightly to look at Evie now, and Evie found herself almost surprised at how well Mal was maintaining eye contact - surprised enough to make her want to duck away, avert her eyes. She didn’t though, which was good, because if she had she would’ve missed the roaming of Mals hues over her face, a sparkle in them Evie thought might be from the rain, but subconsciously hoped wasn’t.

The thing is, the silence was nice and everything, but it was still raining, and Evie was still cold, and her hair was still plastered to her forehead, and her clothes were still chilled and clinging to her abdomen, and she was really getting sick of waiting for Mal to say something. So, again, Evie went to take initiative, when Mal surprised them both and spoke.

“I’m an idiot,”

Evie blinked at her a few times, eyes wide and fixated on Mals. She watched her green hues close over and over, trying to dispel the water that would collect on her eyelashes every two seconds that, no doubt, blurred her vision. She watched them for any flicker of an emotion she’d recognize, anything at all that made her go ah yes, this situation makes sense now but, alas, there was nothing Evie could grasp in them. They held something new, something Evie didn’t recognize, and Mal stating the obvious didn’t really shine a light on anything. So she quirked an eyebrow, prompting Mal to continue.

It took another few moments, but eventually Mal spoke again.

“I’m an idiot,” She repeated, gesturing with her hands vaguely, before letting her arms fall against her sides with a loud smack. “I’m just.. I had lunch with Jay yesterday and he told me I was dense and like, yeah okay but, I didn’t like, get it but oh wow, Evie,” she laughed kind of incredulously, and Evie didn’t really see where this tangent was going, and she didn’t know if Mal did either. “And like, no to mention fucking Uma is constantly quoting Harry and telling me I’m emotionally stunted and, like, did you know I had to google what that meant? Because, yknow, English is fun and all but like, that’s not my forte exactly and-”

Evie cut her off, taking a step closer and grabbing her wrists lightly as she had begun gesturing around again. She lowered her arms so they gathered in front of her chest, eye searching Mals once more because, well, what the fuck was she talking about. “Mal,” she began, and Mals jaw immediately snapped shut. “What’s going on?”

Mal blinked. Once. Twice. The rain was dribbling down her nose and catching on her bottom lip, and Evie tried desperately to not be distracted, when suddenly; “We’re not friends,”

It was Evies turn to blink at her, half to dispel the water in her eyelashes and half out of shock. “What?”

Mal seemed to realize what she had said and shook her head, almost seeming to cringe at herself, judging by how her face had scrunched up. “No, I mean, fuck,” she took a breath and tried again, squinting at Evie through the rain. “I know why you left on Friday and I-”

“It’s fine,” Evie cut off again, taking a step back, almost retreating into herself as she did. “You don’t have to like, say anything. It’s fine. I know you don’t..” she swallowed thickly, taking another step back from the blonde and smiling, though how weak and pained it was made Mal’s cold, uncaring heart practically spark to life. “It’s okay,” she repeated, before making an effort to step around her best friend, who’d only every stay her best friend, and that was okay.

That had to be okay.

Evie only just made it around Mal when she felt a skinny hand clinging to the wet fabric of her shirt, and Evie stopped walking. She was weak, she realized suddenly. Mal hadn’t even said anything, barely balling the material in her hand, and yet Evie still found herself stilling, and slowly, ever so slowly, turning to face Mal. Who, in turn, smiled, which, what.

“It’s you and me, E.” The words were soft, laced with an emotion Evie couldn’t quite place. Something in them sounded different - the kind of different that made her insides squirm and her heart beat a little faster, and Mal was still smiling at her like that, and Evie was really beyond confused. But Mal was still clinging to her shirt, hands now balled in the material at her stomach as Evie was currently facing the shorter blonde, and her eyes were wide and searching and hopeful. Her hair fell in rain soaked waves around her face, and Evie could see the goosebumps that had erupted across Mals arms and shoulders clear as day. But she was still smiling, still holding Evie there, and really, who was Evie to try and leave now.

So she let Mal continue, if with a nervous swallow and with a purse of the lips.

The blonde took a deep breath, gently pulling Evie in a bit closer via her shirt, before she exhaled in an almost nervous smile. “Okay, so,” was what she started with, and it was so very Mal, Evie almost laughed. “I’m like, really bad at the whole.. Talking thing, so like, bear with me.” A pause, where Evie searched Mals face once more for hints or signs as to what was about to currently unfold. “We’re not friends-”

Evie opened her mouth to say something because, really, what the fuck Mal, but the blonde held up a finger to stop her, and Evie complied.

“Let me finish,” the green eyed girl continued, smiling at Evies really obvious pout. “We’re not friends. We’ve never been friends. We’re..” Mal trailed off then, closing her eyes and tilting her head back so the rain would hit her face, which Evie found oddly, frustratingly endearing. She stayed like that for a second, before a brilliant smile blossomed across her features, and she continued. “We’re Mal and Evie. Evie and Mal. Like it’s always been, and like it’s always going to be.”

Evie nodded a bit, watching as Mal ducked her head down again, opening her eyes so warm earthy brown met lush forest green. She was still confused, but at least now she was listening.

Mals hands twisted in the material of Evies shirt, and the blue haired girl knew she was nervous, despite the otherwise confident composure the blonde had adopted. Reading Mals ticks was the one thing that hadn’t changed in this situation, even if nothing else really made any sense.

And made even less sense after Mals next words.

“I’m sorry it took me so long to figure that out.”

Evie only blinked at her. It didn’t seem like Mal was going to continue any time soon, but Evie needed more. She needed something clearer, some defining words that spelled out what was happening in big, bold, metaphorical text. She had never considered herself as being the dense one, but after today, maybe she’d have to reconsider.

“What are you saying?” she inquired, needing to know.

Mals mouth opened and closed a few times, seemingly arriving to the part of the conversation she was significantly less confident in. The rain was still coming down hard, almost painful against Evie bare arms as she waited for Mal to find her words, but somehow she wasn’t impatient. Probably had something to do with the fact that Evie would willingly wait for Mal for forever, but.

And then Mal opened her mouth, and Evie almost forgot to breathe. “I’m saying.. I’m saying I like you, E,” a shake of the head, a breathless laugh. “I like you a lot, actually, like, it’s kind of scary. I wanna do all that dumb shit like hold your hand in public, and bring you your ridiculous coffee order that’ll definitely give you diabetes one day, and walk you to class, and like, make Jay throw pillows at us because we’re so obnoxiously coupley, and stuff.” A pause, and suddenly, Mal was looking at her like she held the moon in her eyes and the stars in her hair, and this time Evie really did forget to breathe. “And I’m sorry that I’m an idiot who couldn’t figure that out.”

There was a part of Evie that was convinced that this must be a dream of some sort. This couldn’t be Mal, her Mal, the same Mal who told her she wouldn’t date her friends not two days ago. Surely, this wasn’t real. Couldn’t be.

And yet, Evie could feel it. She could feel Mals knuckles pressing into her gut, just barely warm. She could feel the harsh onslaught of rain against her skin, clinging to her hair and her clothes. She could feel Mal gaze on her, keen and new and curious and so, so full of love. Which, Evie, thought, had to be the emotion she couldn’t place. And it almost made her want to laugh, her body warming immediately.

Her hands found Mals jean loops, and she pulled her closer without much thought, a grin spreading obnoxiously large across her face at the gleeful squeak Mal let slip at the action.

The kiss was open mouthed and a little clumsy, even. Their noses bumped several times as they moved, and they probably both inhaled an unhealthy amount of water. Mal tasted like rain and sugar, something Evie found unsurprising, but still made her grin into the blondes mouth. Which, in turn, caused Mal to smile too, and suddenly the kiss was all teeth and laughs and haphazard tugs at clothing. Mal was still clutching at Evies shirt, holding the blue haired girl flush against her with everything she had, whereas Evies hands had travelled up to Mals face - one bunching the blonde waves at the base of Mals neck, and the other slipping under and behind the groove of Mals jaw. It was messy, and breathless, and when they found it in themselves to pull away from one another, they both found that they were beyond giddy.

(And if Evie couldn’t help herself but lean in two or three more times to give Mal loud, wet pecks, well, could you blame her?)

There was a good amount of staring between them after they broke apart, despite the rain that Evie found quite less than romantic, actually. It was like, great in movies and all, but when you were really there, in the moment, practically shaking from the cold and feeling your shoes fill with cold water, it wasn’t exactly ideal. But Evie was so filled with unmasked joy that she really couldn’t find it in herself to care, and she went in for another loud, grossly enamoured peck.

“You’re not an idiot,” she said, letting her lips brush Mals as she spoke.

Mal laughed. “Yknow,” she hummed, this time bringing her lips to Evies nose. “You said that,” a kiss to her cheeks. “After I slept with Audrey.”

Evie stilled in Mals arms, frowning while the words registered. But Mal was giggling, which was also a new exciting thing, and Evie just hit her lightly against her forearm. “Please don’t talk about Audrey right now,” she huffed, but her smile betrayed how annoyed she really was.

“Don’t worry E,” Mal hummed, hands finally releasing Evies shirt so she could grasp her wrists, pulling the brown eyed girls hands away from her face so she could tangle their fingers together instead. “She’s got nothing on you.”

And then suddenly Mal was pulling her away, grumbling something about Harry and Uma and emotionally stunted my ass and Evie was laughing and she figured Mal was right. They were Mal and Evie, Evie and Mal. Like it always was, like it was always going to be.

Jay was really gonna have to get a move on with the whole telling Carlos thing now.