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Chapter Text

February 2008


"You nervous?" Jessica asked as she came to stand by Avery in front of the mirror that Avery was getting ready at and Avery felt herself blush as she looked at her sister who obviously looked way more put together than she was. But then again Jessica always looked better at times, always going out of her way to be little miss perfect in every way.

"Maybe," Avery shrugged as she looked down and away from the look Jessica was giving her in a mirror. "I mean it's just a date with Jeremy."

Jessica laughed softly as she put her arms around Avery which made Avery look back up at her sister, locking eyes with her in the mirror. "But it's your first official date with him," she said putting an emphasis on her words. "You guys are officially boyfriend and girlfriend and not best friends and it's Valentine's day and everything has to be daunting right now."

Avery fell silent at that because in the end Jessica did have a point. Everything was incredibly daunting right now. Because the idea of this date scared her and Avery was sure it wasn't just because of the fact that it was her first official date with Jeremy. It was probably because it was her first official date period and Cordelia and Juniper had both teased her relentlessly today when they had met up for lunch, mainly because both girls had found it funny she was even going on a date with a boy.

Because as Avery had found out, her two closest friends in the world had apparently thought she was like them and a lesbian. But of course Avery wasn't...she'd know if she was right?

Yeah maybe she hadn't entirely been into guys much or found boys all that appealing but she'd know if she wasn't attracted to them. Though deep down a part of her wasn't sure she was really attracted to Jeremy. But she had a deep love for him, one that came from being friends for so long and her love for him had to prove that she was straight.

She wasn't a lesbian regardless of what Cordelia or Juniper said to her. There was just no way that even her own internal gaydar was off about herself. Except that right now as she stood in front of the mirror with Jessica a part of her wasn't wishing or hoping that Jeremy would be the one coming to pick her up soon.

A part of her wanted Cordelia to be the one who was picking her up tonight..who she'd be spending this rather cliche fucking holiday with and it could have been Cordelia, since Juniper had a date with some girl who was in an art class she took.

Cordelia had even offered to come and pick Avery up and take her to her house so they could have some indie movie marathon but then Avery had mentioned her date as well as the fact that she and Jeremy had upped the stage in their relationship and those plans had been dashed and maybe she was wrong but she had thought she saw a look of disappointment pass Cordelia's face then but yeah, she was probably wrong just like Juniper and Cordelia were wrong about her.

"Avie?" Jessica questioned her voice bringing Avery out of her thoughts and Avery blushed because she realized she had totally zoned out on Jessica.

"Huh?" Avery questioned wondering what she had missed when she was zoned out.

Jessica laughed lightly as she pulled away from Avery, "Mom just hollered from downstairs," she revealed with a tiny smirk. "Jeremy's down here to pick you up for your date."

"Oh," Avery spoke though it came out as a whisper and she nodded softly as she did a once over of herself in the mirror before turning to leave her room and as she left the room, she felt nauseous and like she was going to physically be sick. But of course she had to keep reminding herself, that no, she wasn't.

This was just Jeremy and she knew him. Had known him for so long and they were just going to dinner and a movie so she wasn't going to be sick. She could get through this first date with her first boyfriend.


Sitting silently in Jeremy's car outside of her house a few hours later, Avery stared awkwardly out of the window not sure what happened now that the date was done and she was back home.

The date had went well even if the whole time Avery just felt like it was wrong to even call it a date. It was just hanging out with Jeremy. The boy who had been her friend for years now and it didn't feel any different even if it probably should have. Nor did she feel any different towards him.

He was still someone she loved deeply because he had been there for so long but she still couldn't quite shake the feeling that she would rather have spent Valentine's Day with Cordelia instead of with the boy who was now her boyfriend. The boy who had actually been sweet during the date.

He had pulled her chair out at the restaurant and he had tried to keep her engaged in conversation though Avery knew she probably hadn't been the best. Not when somehow something in the pit of her stomach just felt off and not when she was too busy thinking of a girl who she probably shouldn't have been because she wasn't a lesbian...couldn't be a lesbian.

"I had fun tonight Avie," Jeremy spoke and that brought Avery out of her thoughts as she turned to look at him. "I was so nervous tonight would be horrible but it wasn't so bad and I really had fun."

"Wasn't so bad?" Avery asked with a hint of a tease to her voice that surprised even her.

Jeremy shrugged his shoulders as he looked down and away from her gaze. "You just seemed off for a bit tonight but I think you came around by the time we were almost done eating and you definitely seemed okay at the movies."

Blushing at Jeremy's words Avery was rendered speechless because she hadn't realized just how obvious her discomfort had been at first. It was something that made her feel a bit guilty now. More so than she already did because hell she was probably the world's most horrible date or the worst that Jeremy had, had.

Which well Avery wasn't entirely sure how many dates he had before her to begin with. Even if they had been friends forever she had just never been interested in his dating life which was funny since she was now his girlfriend.

"I'm..." Avery started but watched as Jeremy shook his head no.

"Don't apologize okay," Jeremy smiled at her his blue eyes shining some. "It was your first date and of course you were nervous. I get it. It was mine too so I wasn't the best date either but there is always next time."

Nodding her head Avery kept repeating the words next time in her head and the sick feeling she had before the date came back. It was sad to admit but the thought of a next time was something she was already dreading.

Before she could reply back to him though Avery sat there frozen as she watched Jeremy inch closer and before she could even protest his lips were on hers in a kiss. A kiss she should have seen coming and not just because of him inching closer but because didn't most people kiss at the end of a date?

Though it was also a kiss that Avery felt no spark with. The sad reality was she felt nothing not even when she closed her eyes. Especially not with her eyes closed because then all she saw was images of Cordelia in her mind. A laughing happy ecstatic Cordelia and it just ruined the moment because Avery realized then and there that maybe she was attracted to Cordelia even if she was straight.

Maybe she was at least partly gay for her one of her girl best friends.

Pulling away from the kiss, Avery just stared at Jeremy before unbuckling in a hurry. "I should go," she muttered out not even looking at him as she quickly exited his car and ran inside.

She knew it probably wasn't the best idea. To just take off running like that but the realization that she was more than likely gay for Cordelia was again enough to make her stomach uneasy and she needed to get to the bathroom.

Making it there she shut the door in a hurry before bending over and losing the contents of whatever she had eaten last. Most likely the popcorn from the movie theater and after she had gotten sick she flushed the toilet though she stayed on the floor, feeling tears threatening to come out.

There was no way she could be attracted to Cordelia because that would mean at least being five percent gay and there was no way Avery could be any gay. She may have hung around two lesbians who were her best friends but she couldn't be...her family, her siblings and her parents...they'd never accept her if she were gay.

Chapter Text

February 2008

The next day after her date with Jeremy, Avery slept as late as she could or really as late as her mom would let her and then she begrudgingly woke up and got ready for the day deciding to do what home school stuff she had first and a part of her was a bit thankful that it seemed Jessica wasn't there. Mainly because she was afraid if Jessica was there that she had probably heard about how Avery had just up and ran out of Jeremy's car like he had the plague or something.

Which if Jessica knew that then Avery would probably never hear the end of it or at least Jessica would make her feel guilty and Avery was already partly feeling guilty. Guilty for running out and guilty for thinking of Cordelia when they kissed. Just plain fucking guilty all around.

"Oh, I meant to tell you Avie," Diana spoke as she brought Avery out of her thoughts and Avery turned to look up from the textbook that she really hadn't been reading anyway. "Cordelia called this morning around eight, of course I told her you were still in bed so she said for you to call her after she gets out of school," she smiled with a hint of something more in her eyes. "She probably wants to know how your date with Jeremy went."

Blushing at her mom's words Avery had to look away from her gaze. Hating the reminder of her date because again it made her guilt worse.

"I doubt that's what she wanted," Avery shook her head, though in all actuality she wouldn't have been surprised if that was exactly what Cordelia wanted and Avery just wasn't sure if she was up for rehashing the details about the end of the date and especially telling Cordelia.

Maybe she'd just do best to ignore Cordelia for the time being. At least until she found out how to make herself not gay for her best friend or at least until she found out if it was just Cordelia or all girls...but it had to just be Cordelia. She'd go to church with her mom this Sunday and pray for that if she had too.

But Avery also doubted that God would answer that because hadn't she always been taught that being gay was a sin? That was what every church her family went to preached and it was one reason Avery knew she really couldn't be gay.

Her family would never fully accept her if she was. The woman who had raised her and was now looking at her fondly as she referenced a date that Avery had with a boy wouldn't be pleased if she learned that Avery didn't really like boys. That maybe she preferred girls..or at least Cordelia, the same girl who had called this morning.

"It probably is what she wanted," Diana smirked down at Avery. "Isn't that what girlfriends do still?" she asked with a sort of dreamy expression on her face. "Gossip about the boys they date."

Avery had to bite her tongue at her mom's last words because that was another tiny detail Avery hadn't told her mom or her dad or anyone else really. That Cordelia and Juniper were lesbians. The two girls she had grown up with were gay and not into boys so really with them it wasn't discussing the boys they dated. It was discussing the girls they dated while Avery felt like the lone ranger because she had neither a girl or boy to discuss at least not until recently when she and Jeremy had just decided they were dating.

"Y..yeah that's what girls still do with their friends," Avery nodded her head her voice catching on her and she hoped her mom didn't notice it just like she really hoped her face was neutral and not giving away that she was sort of fudging the truth a bit with her friends group anyway.

Luckily her mom must have bought her words because after that she just turned to leave though before she could fully leave the room that Avery was in Avery decided to ask her mom a question.

"Hey mom?" she asked watching her mom turn to look at her curiously. "After I finish my school work can I go out for awhile?" she asked feeling a bit crazy for asking. She did have her own car now. An SUV that had used to be Jessica's but had been passed down to her on her seventeenth birthday in November but she was still only seventeen so she knew she kind of sort of needed her parents permission for a few more months anyway.

Diana gave Avery a soft smile as she nodded, "Just be back before dinner time. Probably going to need your help, I think Isaac and Nikki may drop in and I like to cook extra when Nikki or Kate come by lately since both of them are eating for two right now."

"I can do that," Avery agreed as she returned her mom's smile briefly before turning to look down at her textbook and hopefully at least get a bit of something out of the lesson her mom had made for her today.


Sitting in a corner at a small record store, Avery held her sketchbook close to her as she worked on a drawing, not even really having a plan but just needing something to shut her mind down and forget about last night. Forget about Jeremy and forget about Cordelia.

Which is one reason why she was drawing in her sketchbook in a corner of a record store she had found last year by happenstance really and a place which was just her own. A place where she could come and draw and forget everything and not have to be worried about being found until she was ready.

She also didn't have to worry about thinking about things either here or having to face reality and usually when she was drawing or painting even she didn't have to worry about that anyway because when she did that it was like everything else in her head and everything else in the world just sort of tuned out and went on silent mode or if she were speaking in terms of TVs the real world was muted.

Hearing someone clear their throat beside her though, Avery was pulled from her escape and she felt her cheeks getting hot as she turned to look at a woman with short black hair sitting beside her. A woman who she knew worked here because Avery saw her a lot when she came in.

"You know you always confuse me," the woman spoke as soon as she had Avery's attention. "Coming in here sometimes day after day and always sitting in this corner to draw in that book of yours. Then again there are some times where you just don't come in for weeks and it's just weird."

Blushing more Avery had to look away from the stranger as she spoke because somehow the woman's words just made Avery feel even more weird than she had been feeling since last night.

"Guess I'm just weird then," Avery shrugged as she did her best to paste on a smile when she looked back at the woman. "But if I'm being honest this place's sort of my escape from reality place," she admitted and the more she kept talking the more hotter her cheeks felt like they were getting.

Especially when the black haired stranger just kept staring at her intensely like she was trying to see into Avery's soul.

"What exactly does someone like you have to escape from?" the woman asked and the way she said it, Avery almost felt offended.

"Someone like me?" Avery questioned with a quirk of her eyebrow wondering exactly what vibes she gave off to a stranger or even wondering if somehow this stranger knew who her brothers were.

It was no secret Tulsa had it's fair share of fans and even though Tulsa was a city sometimes running into fans couldn't be avoided and Avery was in a record store which if you worked in a record store you had to like music of some sort and maybe this woman who semi insulted her liked the type of music her brothers made.

Then again she also didn't look the type. She looked like one of those hipsters that Taylor would hang out with and befriend. Most of them usually weren't Hanson fans at least the ones she had met weren't. They were just friends of her brother.

"You look like a little rich girl who has it all together," the woman shrugged her shoulders. "Probably have a nice house and a nice family. Maybe a nice boyfriend so why do you have to escape from that?"

Avery who had listened to the woman visibly stiffened up when she got to the maybe boyfriend bit though she remained silent, not really answering her.

"So it's the boyfriend bit huh?" the woman asked in her silence. "Let me guess he's a total rich boy douche bag?"

Shaking her head Avery heaved a sigh, "It'd probably be better if he was," she spoke knowing then maybe she wouldn't feel so guilty for not liking him like she should have. Like he deserved to be loved. "Then I wouldn't feel guilty for not being head over heels in love with him."

"Another guy?" the woman questioned and Avery shook her head no.

"I might be gay for my best friend who is a girl," Avery confessed and the moment the words were out of her mouth she regretted them because she was confessing them to a total stranger who had insulted her at the start of the conversation. Yet her lips just kept moving. "My friends think I'm a lesbian and I..I didn't think I was either until last night but then something changed and now I think I'm just gay for my best friend or hell maybe I'm gay for women in general I don't know nor do I know how I can find out either way."

After she spoke Avery heard the woman beside her let out a laugh and again she blushed and felt offended because the proper way to handle that confession wasn't too laugh.

Then again Avery probably shouldn't have told a stranger all of that to begin with. Why couldn't her brain just have developed a lock with the stranger like it had developed one with her friends and family?

"I mean if you want to know I'm pretty sure I could help with that," the woman finally spoke and her words hadn't been what Avery had expected so she just gave her a curious look. One the woman must have been able to read on her. "Not that I proposition every cute girl who comes in here to draw and then tells me their troubles but I make exceptions from time to time."

Blushing again Avery looked down at her sketchbook at the image she had been drawing. Just an image of two hands intertwined together. Two hands that looked slightly feminine.

"I don't even know your name," she finally stated surprised at the teasing tone of her own voice. "Kind of hard for me to agree to a sexual proposition from a stranger whose name I don't even know."

The woman laughed again which made Avery turn to look at her again finally.

"I left my badge in the back when I went on break but my name is Paisley," the stranger who Avery now knew as Paisley informed her. "Paisley Chambers, slightly odd chick who makes propositions on cute customers sometimes."

Avery let out a tiny groan as she felt her blush growing again, "Nice to meet you Paisley," she nodded her head feeling a bit sincere even if this was the oddest meeting she had ever had with someone. "Avery Hanson, confused maybe straight girl whom you propositioned," she spoke as she held her free hand out to Paisley.

When Paisley took her hand Avery shook it slightly before letting go and looking down at her sketchbook again. "I may have to think over your offer though. I mean we did just meet and all."

"True," Paisley nodded her head with a slight mischievous smirk. "But who better to have your first lesbian experimentation with than a stranger who you'll probably never experiment with again," she defended before standing up. "But you know if you decide you want to take me up on the offer you know where to find me. I get off at eight most nights," she informed her before giving a wink and all Avery could do was watch Paisley go.

Once Paisley was out of sight Avery laughed again as she shook her head and went back to work on her drawing, knowing there was probably no way she'd end up taking the offer given to her.

Chapter Text

February 2008

Avery chewed on her lip softly as she looked at the time after helping her mom prepare dinner. It was going on seven-thirty and if she left now she could get to the record store in enough time to see Paisley.

Which was a thought that made her blush because she didn't know why she was even entertaining the idea of seeing the girl again. She had just met her and spilled her guts and there was no was no way she should go and meet her just to fool around.

Avery wasn't that kind of girl but then again she was also a virgin so she really wasn't any kind of girl and she was trying to figure out if she was straight or gay or just gay for Cordelia or maybe she was bisexual though a part of her was leaning towards no.

Especially since she hadn't really found any boys attractive ever and something had truly been missing when she kissed Jeremy.

But still she shouldn't go and take a stranger's offer of experimenting. If anything she should just tell Cordelia what was going on and experiment with her. Though Avery was afraid of doing that just yet because what if Cordelia didn't like her like that?

Just because Cordelia was a lesbian it didn't mean she loved every chick and Avery may not have been her type so she didn't want to do that and then there was the side of what if Cordelia did like her and it turned out Avery wasn't gay but just gay for her.

Then things would always be murky and there was just no way she could tell Cordelia yet so maybe there was an upside to meeting a stranger after all and maybe Avery was just clearly out of her mind. That had to be it.

She was out of her mind and she knew the minute she turned to look at her mom that she was one step closer to being insane.

"Hey, mom can I go back out now that I helped you with dinner?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. "I just I think I'm going to go visit Cordelia instead of calling her," she lied and she felt guilty for the lie but it wasn't like she could tell her mom the truth.

That she wanted to run off and fool around with a girl she had just met. Then again she also couldn't tell her mom that she was afraid she was gay for her best friend. Because clearly her mom, a woman whom she admired probably wouldn't accept her which was something that also scared Avery in the end once she had answers.

Diana gave Avery a curious look, "But what about dinner?" she asked as she raised an eyebrow. "Nikki and Isaac are here with Everett and you know they'll just end up eating your portion even if I try to save you some. That's how it always goes with you kids when someone misses a dinner."

Except Zac, Avery wanted to say but she bit her tongue because clearly it wasn't her place to correct her mom that sometimes Zac had a weird diet habit especially once he and Kate had started going to that Orthodox church. Though it was just a diet and Avery clearly didn't see anything wrong with it if it wasn't hurting Zac.

Which he had never seemed hurt yet. He always looked healthy and fine to her and if he didn't then she'd probably say something because hadn't she always told Zac the truth?

Though Avery was afraid even there things were beginning to change especially as she was slowly coming to realizations about herself.

"I'll get something on the way in," Avery finally answered her mom with a hopeful smile. "Probably some nasty greasy fast food place which doesn't compare to your cooking," she added on hoping that maybe if she buttered her mom up some it would be easier to get her to agree to let Avery leave and skip dinner here at home.

"Fine Avery Laurel," Diana relented with a sigh. "Just don't be out too late or your father and I will ground you no matter how close to eighteen you are."

Avery laughed but nodded her head because she knew deep down her mom was telling the truth. They would ground her if she was out too late.

"I won't be," she said as she shook her head and left the kitchen in a hurry bidding a goodbye to her pregnant sister-in-law and her eldest brother on her way out.

Maybe next time she'd see them longer and maybe she should have felt guilty again this time for missing out on family time but well with her family sometimes there was a thing as too much family time sometimes.


Arriving at the record store finally, Avery parked her car in a parking space and got out. A smile appearing on her lips as she watched Paisley who was sitting on the side walk look up at her mischievously.

"You're ten minutes late," Paisley said as she stood up and put the phone she had been holding in the pocket of her pants.

"You're still here," Avery replied back with a shrug. "You could have left, you didn't have to wait around. I mean what if I hadn't shown up?"

Paisley laughed slightly as she ran a hand through her hair, "I guess I would have been a fool then huh?" she asked as she walked a bit closer to Avery and Avery wasn't sure why but even that action made butterflies build in her stomach. "But I knew you were going to come preferably in more ways than one tonight," she finished off and Avery blushed at the innuendoes and at how low and seductive Paisley's voice got.

" did you know I would come?" Avery asked her mouth feeling suddenly dry now.

"Something about the way you looked when I mentioned it," Paisley answered and to Avery she sounded honest. "You just had this curious look about you and I knew. I just knew that you'd come and I was right."

Now it was Avery who laughed, "Partly, I've only came in one way so far," she teased as she gave Paisley a wink and even though she still had butterflies she was somehow able to still flirt. At least Avery thought she was flirting. It wasn't like she had much experience with it.

Watching now as Paisley blushed, Avery almost felt accomplished, making the girl blush like that. Knowing her words could have that affect on someone.

"So are we taking your car or am I going to follow you somewhere or?" Avery questioned in Paisley's silence wondering how the whole thing would go down in the end.

"We can take my car. I'll bring you back to yours later," Paisley nodded and again Avery felt those butterflies again.

Though this time it was because she was going to be getting in a car with a stranger, someone she had met today and what if this girl was a serial killer because women could be serial killers too.

"Isn't that how all horror movies start?" Avery asked teasingly as she followed behind Paisley. "I may wind up on the front page of Tulsa World listed as a murder victim tomorrow."

Paisley laughed loudly at that, a laugh that seemed to calm Avery's nerves slightly in ways Avery also couldn't quite explain.

"Oh yes, I'm going to drive you down some secluded road and butcher you with my trusty little old pocket knife I keep in the glove compartment," she teased back as she unlocked the doors once they made it to her car. "Better think twice before getting in that passenger seat Avery," she winked before opening the driver's seat and getting in and Avery couldn't help the blush on her cheeks at Paisley's words and actions.

Shaking her head she took one deep breath before getting in the passenger side and closing the door behind her. Staying silent as Paisley started her car and drove off. Heading into downtown Tulsa.

"I actually live in an apartment complex close to TU," Paisley spoke filling the silence that had settled in her car. "So you know you can scream really loud if I try to murder you and my upstairs neighbor Bob will probably come running. He's hated me since I moved in last year and he caught me making out with some girl in the laundry room on site. Said I was on my way to hell if I didn't repent of my wicked ways."

Avery laughed at that as she shook her head, "Sadly I have some family who would think that if I'm gay," she admitted as her mind conjured up pictures of her parents and of Zac even. The one sibling who she was the closest too would probably hate her and all in the name of God.

A deity who Avery wasn't even sure what she believed about him anymore. Obviously at one point she had believed in God, maybe had even been interested in the Orthodox church and gone to a summer camp. But the rules and provisions had been too much. Too ritualistic and she just couldn't do it.

"You think they would be right?" Paisley asked and her comment made Avery pause as she just looked out the window trying to think of how to answer the question.

"I think if God is real he's not going to send someone to hell for who they love. I think he has bigger concerns than who someone loves on his plate," Avery finally answered as she looked at Paisley with a small smile that she knew probably didn't even reach her eyes. "So no I don't think they'd be right."

After answering that, things fell silent between her and Paisley again and they stayed that way until they arrived at Paisley's apartment complex. Lakewood Garden Condominiums.

It was a place Avery knew well because Juniper lived here in a two bedroom apartment with her own parents and the moment that fact clicked with Avery, Avery began to feel her heart beating a bit wildly in her chest.

The thought of Juniper seeing her here and with another girl and god she knew if that happened the next time she saw Juniper alone then she'd question her or worse yet she'd run to Cordelia and they'd both question her and Cordelia could possibly be mad at her since Avery was sorta of ignoring Cordelia today.

But she was also ignoring Jeremy though too, not that Jeremy had tried contacting her since Avery had bolted from the car after their kiss and he was probably just as scared as Avery to initiate contact now. Some boyfriend and girlfriend pair they were.

"You okay?" Paisley asked as she parked her car, turning to look at Avery and Avery wondered if her panic at maybe being caught by Juniper was written all over her face. If she was that much of an open book sometimes.

"I'm fine," Avery lied with a forced smile and a head nod. "Just nervous I guess," she shrugged as she unbuckled, waiting for Paisley to get out before doing so as well.

Seeing Paisley give her a skeptical look again Avery felt like an open book with her.

"I think you're lying Hanson but I'm not going to question why," Paisley spoke and Avery felt herself blush. "It's not my place," she said as she shook her head before turning and walking away and Avery silently followed behind.

Almost feeling a bit relieved that she hadn't been questioned by Paisley on her lie. She knew she had been open earlier in the record store but now, now was a time when she wanted to keep it to herself that she was scared shitless because a friend of hers also lived here and could see her and question her.

Even if said friend was also a lesbian.

The silence though that had once again settled over Avery and Paisley was broken when they made it to Paisley's apartment and went inside, Paisley turning on the light after they had stepped inside.

"Excuse the mess," Paisley apologized as she worked to pick up some articles of clothing that had been discarded in her living room. "Besides working at the record store I'm also taking classes at TU and sometimes I don't clean up like I should."

Avery shook her head as she laughed softly, following Paisley until they reached her bedroom where once inside, Paisley went to a hamper and threw her clothes inside.

"I have four brothers," Avery spoke as she looked around Paisley's room, noticing all the framed pictures on the wall. A few had people in them but a lot were just random places. "I don't really mind messes," she said as she turned back to face Paisley. "You into art or?" she asked not sure if the photographs were professional or some that Paisley had taken herself.

"I'm into photography," Paisley admitted as she walked to the edge of her bed and sat down. "It's what I'm majoring in at TU actually."

Avery nodded her head as she slowly walked to the edge of the bed and sat down beside Paisley, "I'm thinking of majoring in art when I go to college," she revealed as she chewed on her lip knowing she didn't know Paisley's age yet nor did Paisley know hers and maybe that was a down side to everything too.

That they hadn't gotten each others ages before this.

Paisley raised an eyebrow at Avery's words, "Are you going to get me thrown in jail Hanson?" she asked referring to Avery by her last name and oddly Avery liked it, because no one had done that with her before. They had her brothers of course because of the band but not her.

She was usually just Ave or Avie and Zac she was sure would always call her Avie baby even if she hated it now days. Though maybe she'd allow it with him but of course she'd let him think she hated it. Least his head or ego grew too much.

"I'll be eighteen in November so I guess I could," Avery revealed as she shrugged her shoulders.

"I turn twenty-one in July," Paisley spoke as she inched closer to Avery, an action that for the thousandth maybe millionth time had given Avery butterflies. "Guess I'll take the risk of jail with you," she smirked as she reached over to slowly move some hair off of Avery's face. "I just..I really need you to promise me one thing before we start."

"And what would that be Chambers?" Avery asked curiously now referring to Paisley by her last name like Paisley had done to her.

"Don't fall in love with me," Paisley answered as she locked eyes with Avery her face now just inches from Avery and Avery felt a shiver run down her spine at the closeness. "I don't do love. Never have and probably never will."

Avery softly shook her head though she didn't break eye contact, "This is just a one time thing with a stranger I'll never experiment with again. I won't fall in love," she reassured her with a tiny smile.

Though saying some of those words felt wrong because maybe she shouldn't have used the word never. Never always came back to bite people in the ass.

Paisley just laughed softly at that, like she knew something Avery didn't know. Though she never stated what it was. Instead she didn't say anything at all. Obviously feeling comfortable enough in Avery's words because after laughing she leaned in to kiss Avery.

It was a slow kiss and different than the one Jeremy had given her. Paisley's lips were softer against Avery's than what Jeremy's had been and this time when Avery let her eyes shut she didn't think of Cordelia.

All she thought about was how nice Paisley's lips felt against her own lips and the fact that the butterflies she had been getting off and on had seemingly taken flight in her stomach. Causing it somersault a few times during the kiss.

Especially when Paisley's kisses became a bit harder though Avery wasn't complaining. Instead she was somehow able to keep up with the pace of the kisses and she had even let out a tiny moan when Paisley nipped at her bottom lip softly.

"You liked that huh?" Paisley asked as she pulled away from the kiss, looking at Avery curiously. "Having you lip bitten."

Avery nodded her head as a blush coated her cheeks, "It was kind of hot," she admitted with a slight smile before leaning in again and this time it was her who initiated the kiss between them.

Something which surprised her but then again she was surprised at how comfortable she was with this entire situation of kissing another girl. Kissing a girl she hadn't even known that long but especially the girl part.

It just felt natural to kiss a girl and it felt nice and both of those things while not making Avery uncomfortable did make her a bit scared because she was pretty sure she knew what that meant for her sexuality on some level and right now she wasn't ready to face it. Wasn't ready to say what her brain already knew just from the kissing.

Feeling Paisley's hand slowly find its way up and under her shirt, Avery felt a shiver at the other woman's hands touching her skin so softly. Like she'd break at the touch and yet even though the touches were soft they were enough to make Avery's body feel as if it was on fire everywhere that Paisley touched her.

Though it was a good kind of fire. A fire she craved and wanted more, which was probably why she decided to be bold and let her own hand wander up and under Paisley's shirt and Avery couldn't help smirking into the kiss when she heard an audible moan leave Paisley's lips.

It was a moment she felt proud of. That she had made someone...another girl feel good.

Avery soon moaned herself not long after Paisley's. This time it was a result of Paisley's hand going higher under her shirt. High enough that she could feel her finger tips at the edge of her bra, which resulted in goosebumps forming on Avery's skin.

Wanting Paisley to touch her a little higher. Run her fingers softly against the fabric of her bra and touch her breast the best she could through her clothing.

Pulling away from the kiss this time Avery slowly reached down towards the hem of her shirt, pulling it off and throwing it to the floor. Blushing once again as she was now clad in her bra and her jeans. Something that while it had happened a lot around Juniper and Cordelia at sleepovers had never been sexual but it was here with Paisley and now she was nervous.

Afraid that Paisley may not like what she saw or that she'd change her mind about this whole experience. But Avery soon found her fears were wrong as she watched Paisley take off her own shirt and throw it to the floor as well before leaning in to kiss her again and this kiss was more fevered and rushed.

Like Paisley was searching or wanting something from Avery. It was also a kiss in which Paisley's tongue slowly came out and brushed across Avery's lips and Avery found her mouth opening eagerly in response, granting Paisley's permission in.

A soft moan coming out after as their tongues slowly brushed against each other at the same time that Paisley's hand finally went to Avery's bra and touching the places that Avery had wanted and maybe it was out of curiousness that Avery let her hand do the same.

Let her hand go to Paisley's bra, her thumb slowly brushing over the top part of the exposed skin which again made Paisley moan and so Avery did it again and again her actions had the same result though they also caused Paisley to grip onto her breast a bit harder which was something Avery found she liked.

Getting a thrill of the roughness of it, just like she had liked it when her lip had been bitten.

Avery let out a slight whimper though when Paisley's lips moved from her own, though the whimper died in her throat when Paisley's lips attached to her neck.

Sucking and kissing on the skin lightly and Avery was almost afraid that she'd wind up with a mark on her. A mark she wouldn't know how to explain to anyone especially the boy she was dating but Avery didn't voice her objections to what Paisley was doing to her.

Her brain it seemed having been automatically shut down of any objections the moment their lips had touched in that very first kiss.

"Fuck," Avery cursed out when she felt Paisley run a tongue across the skin of her neck slowly, goosebumps once again forming on her skin. "Just fuck," she sighed knowing that she was liking everything that was happening and again she knew the reasons why but was scared to admit them.

Scared to even say them to herself right now.

Feeling a shiver run through her body as Paisley's mouth worked it's way down from her neck and even lower Avery felt her breath hitch when Paisley reached her bra covered breast, moving away only slightly to unclasp her bra and the moment it fell off Avery blushed.

This was her first official time being really half naked in front of another female for an entirely non platonic reason and once again she was feeling slightly insecure. Knowing she probably didn't compare to whatever other chicks Paisley had hooked up with.

Not to mention she'd probably suck at the other stuff they did too because she was new at this and didn't know a damn thing that she was doing.

It wasn't like she had even had sex with a boy yet either. She was as inexperienced as they came.

"You're beautiful," Paisley spoke her words bringing Avery out of her thoughts. "I hope you're boyfriend has told you that before because if not he's a damn sucky boyfriend."

"We've never really done anything together," Avery revealed as she blushed even more. "I've never with anyone before," she whispered feeling ashamed at just how inexperienced she truly was.

Paisley only smirked at that, "A true virgin then, not just a lesbian one. I'm really going to have fun corrupting you," she spoke before leaning in to kiss Avery again and this time it still wasn't slow. It was more hurried and her lips didn't stay on Avery's long.

Instead they followed the same path down her neck and onto her chest and Avery let out a loud moan when she felt the warm heat of Paisley's mouth around her nipple. Sucking slowly while occasionally letting her tongue come out to brush across it.

They were actions that were making Avery tingly all over including down into her pussy which she knew was getting wet. She was getting turned on from this.

Paisley was turning her on in ways she never had been before and everything just felt so new and exciting and a part of her wondered why she hadn't let this happen before with Cordelia.

But then again she had been in denial so that was one reason, but still.

Letting her head fall back as Paisley's mouth soon went to her other breast, giving it the same treatment as the first all Avery was capable of doing now was moaning. Moaning and biting her lip to keep from moaning though she failed every damn time.

Though her moans soon turned into whimpers as Paisley moved her mouth away from Avery's breast, coming back to Avery's lips as they kissed again. A kiss in which Avery was pushed back on the bed with Paisley moving over her slowly.

Though it was also a kiss in which Avery grew bold and once Paisley was leaning over her, Avery let her hands slowly go around Paisley's back where she quickly unclasped Paisley's bra which soon fell off as well, leaving Paisley just as half naked as Avery was right now.

Which Avery thought was fair game. She had been starting to feel way under dressed and for now they were even.

At least until she had felt Paisley's hands slowly going down her stomach, followed by her lips which once again kissed a trail down Avery's neck but instead of going to her breast Paisley continued downward and Avery lifted her head to watch.

Her breath once again hitching when Paisley reached the waistband of her jeans, where she pulled away and looked up at Avery. Which Avery knew why.

She was asking a silent permission, a question of if Avery was sure and wanted to continue and Avery only nodded her head. Not sure if she trusted her voice right now to work properly because while she did want to continue she was so fucking nervous.

Nervous because the more this progressed the more Avery realized that thing about herself. The one she was avoiding saying to herself out of fear.

After she nodded her head, Avery watched as Paisley undid her jeans slowly and Avery lifted up some to help her push them off along with her panties and once she was fully nude Avery was half sure her face probably resembled a tomato or close to it.

She felt hot all over and she knew it was nerves. She was completely naked and bare in front of a stranger and one who was going to get her off sexually.

Had already turned her on and gotten her wet. Had made her realize things that scared her.

"You're beautiful," Paisley said again as she locked eyes with Avery from where she was between her legs. "So beautiful," she muttered out softly as her hand slowly went between Avery's legs, causing Avery to moan when it touched her wet flesh.

"'re just saying that because of the situation we're in right now," Avery replied as she shook her head. "You between my legs and your hand on my pussy."

Paisley laughed softly at that as one of her fingers began to slowly brush across Avery's bare wet skin, again causing her to moan. "I'm not just saying it," she spoke and she did sound sincere. "You're beautiful even when you had clothes on too but you're fucking marvelous naked," she winked before leaning in and leaving a kiss on Avery's thigh.

It was tiny and chaste but it was enough to make every fiber of nerve's Avery had go on edge as well as creating a want and a need for those lips to go just a fraction higher. Kiss the place where Paisley's hand was.

But Avery found that she was too scared to ask, to scared to voice those words out loud.

Though Paisley it seemed had read her mind because before Avery could comprehend what was happening Paisley's lips were on her wet flesh. Kissing and licking while one of her fingers slowly worked it's way inside of Avery.

A place where Avery up until now had only ever touched while thinking of nameless, faceless people. Just a random person who would work to get the job done and get her off. A person who hadn't really had a gender but after today Avery knew they would.

They'd have a gender and it wouldn't be the one it was for most girls. The next time she masturbated she'd be thinking of a female.

Feeling her head fall farther back into the bed as Paisley added a second finger inside of her, her mouth and tongue both still working on Avery, Avery felt her hips began to lift up some to match the movements of Paisley's fingers inside of her.

Fingers that were skilled in what they were doing and Avery tried not to think about how many people Paisley had done this too in the past but it was hard not. Not to compare and know that she was probably one of the lesser experienced ones. One who really didn't have a clue what they were doing.

Though what Avery did know was that her orgasm was approaching. She could tell all of the tell tale signs from when she got herself off.

The way her breathing got a bit uneven and her eyes kept wanting to shut on their own and as she gave in to those feelings of her release, Avery reached down and let her hand curl into Paisley's short locks. Paisley's name leaving her mouth softly as he body went all pliant as she reached her end.

An end that had been brought on by another girl who had skilled fingers and an equally skilled tongue and mouth. A girl who was practically a stranger and yet who in some ways she felt comfortable with while also still being a bit uncomfortable too for the things Paisley made her realize.

Watching as Paisley moved away from between her legs, Avery blushed again when Paisley looked down at her with a smirk.

"Congratulations on your first orgasm brought on by someone else," she spoke before leaning down to kiss Avery and this time as they kissed, Avery could faintly taste herself on the other girl. Which wasn't something she objected too.

"Do you want me too...I mean I can return the favor," Avery said as she pulled away from the kiss having realized that Paisley hadn't gotten off yet and shouldn't it be only fair that she get off too?

Paisley shook her head as she looked at Avery, "I...not this time," she said almost like she was expecting something to happen between them again, though Avery knew it wouldn't.

It was a one time thing, she had said as much when she propositioned her in the record store.

"Anyway I did this for you so consider it my gift that doesn't need to be repaid," Paisley whispered as she moved to fix some of Avery's hair out of her face. "Hopefully a gift that helped you realize what it was you needed to realize."

Avery nodded her head at that because it had helped her. "It did help," she revealed with a bit of a wistful smile. "I..I may be gay for more than just my best friend," she said though Avery wasn't sure if she was ready to label herself full on gay just yet.

She had hopes that maybe she could experiment with Jeremy some even if there had been no passion or spark in their kiss like there had been in everything she had done with Paisley. Maybe she could at least try and see if anything else excited her or if him being sexual with her could turn her on because even with no spark or passion she was sure if he touched her in the right places he could at least do that...if she was into men too.

"So you're a lesbian then?" Paisley asked as she moved away from Avery beginning to get redressed and Avery sat up following suit.

Though she fell silent as she put her clothes back on because she wasn't sure how to answer it.

She didn't want to say she was a lesbian yet, didn't want to be still.

"I think I could be bisexual," Avery finally answered but her tone sounded less sure and like she was second guessing herself.

Paisley only shook her head at that, "You're really just going to need someone to pull you out of the closet forcibly aren't you?" she asked with a teasing tone. "Make you realize yourself that you're fully gay and not just bisexual."

Blushing at her words Avery finished dressing as she stood from the bed, "But I could be," she finally spoke as she defended herself.

"But you aren't," Paisley shot back sounding and looking sure of her words. A lot more sure than Avery sounded or felt. "You aren't bisexual. Trust me on that," she nodded before turning to leave the room and Avery bit her lip, deciding to just be silent now because what else could she say?

Obviously Paisley had made up her mind about Avery's sexuality while Avery herself still wasn't ready to give in because she knew being bisexual would at least be better than being gay. If she liked men as much as she liked females then she was partly straight and maybe her family wouldn't totally hate her.


Arriving back home much later that night, Avery who had her bag of take out in one hand and her cell phone in the other, walked to the kitchen table and sat down.

Though the moment she was seated she heard her phone buzz as it vibrated against her skin and as she sat the bag of food down she hit to see who was trying to reach her. Feeling a bit surprised when she saw Juniper's name because she figured it would be Cordelia or Jeremy since she had been avoiding both today.

Clicking so that she could see the text, Avery swore her heart nearly stopped at the words.

Did I see you leaving my apartment complex with Paisley or were my eyes playing tricks on me?

Swallowing hard Avery was sure she would drop her phone, not just because Juniper had seen her but also because Juniper knew who Paisley was. But then again they were both lesbians who lived in the same apartment complex and didn't gays always tend to find each other like magnets.

Then again Avery was best friends with two lesbians and so maybe Paisley was right to say she wasn't bisexual.

Shaking her head though Avery typed a response back to Juniper.

No. I don't even know a Paisley so how could I be leaving with whoever Paisley is?

It was just another lie Avery was adding to her list lately. Which she wondered how many lies you could tell before they caught up with you?

Chapter Text

February 2008

Waking the next morning as her door was slammed shut, Avery jumped awake her eyes opening slightly as she saw Jessica at the door, standing with her arms crossed.

"Jessie?" Avery asked softly her voice still sounding like she was half asleep and well maybe she was. She had been rudely awoken.

"How could you?" Jessica snapped as she shook her head, walking closer to Avery's bed though her arms remained crossed.

Now Avery sat up in her bed slowly, giving Jessica an even more confused look.

"How could I what?" she asked unsure of what Jessica was mad at her about though she was sure she was going to find out. Her sister had came in here for a purpose and that was to confront her about something. Otherwise she wouldn't have woken her so rudely.

Jessica only laughed as she finally uncrossed her arms before sitting on the end of Avery's bed. "The way you treated Jeremy on your date," she sighed sounding a bit disappointed. "Joe told me how you ran out of the car after you two kissed," she spoke sounding as if she was still disappointed and Avery had to look away from Jessica.

Mainly because a part of her was disappointed in herself too. She knew it was wrong and that she shouldn't have done it.

"Then you just ignore him all day yesterday," Jessica continued with a sigh. "He was so upset according to Joe."

Avery chewed on her lip as she kept her gaze off Jessica, instead moving it to her blankets that covered her lap now. "I don't know what happened okay," Avery lied as she shrugged her shoulders. "I just wasn't expecting the kiss and I freaked. I know I should have called him yesterday and apologized but I didn't and it wasn't like he contacted me either."

Again Jessica let out a laugh this one much more bitter and angry sounding than the last, "Was it his place to call you Avie?" she asked sounding like she was judging her sister and Avery hated it.

Hated knowing she was a bad girlfriend already. She had ignored Jeremy yesterday and she had also cheated too. She cheated on him with a girl just to find out if it was only Cordelia she had a crush on or all girls and Avery was a fucking horrible girlfriend.

In the end Jeremy probably deserved so much better and yet for now he had her. Someone who was still confused and someone who would still treat him like shit and ignore him.

She was doing the same to Cordelia for entirely different reasons, though she did have plans to maybe text Cordelia and see if she wanted to hang out today.

"No," Avery finally answered as she looked at Jessica and she shook her head almost feeling like a child that her sister had scolded. "I..I should have called him," she admitted as she faked a smile. "I'll call him later today and apologize maybe even suggest another date."

"You don't have to do that," Jessica said as she stood from Avery's bed and Avery just looked at her confused, though it didn't last for long. "Joe and I sort of mentioned a double date with you two for next Friday. It's a night we both have free and Jeremy sort of agreed for the both of you because regardless of what you did he apparently still wants to be your boyfriend."

Avery only nodded her head, watching as Jessica left after that and a part of her was angry. Angry that she had been roped into a date she hadn't even wanted. Wishing that Jeremy had talked to her first but then again even if he had tried to contact her she probably would have just ignored him like she had done to Cordelia who had called her yesterday morning.

Letting out a slight groan, Avery reached over for her cell phone which was on her bedside table and as she turned it on she had all intents and purposes of contacting Jeremy. Of apologizing and making things right but the she had saw she already had a missed call from Cordelia today and all thoughts of contacting Jeremy left her mind.

Instead she pressed a button and put the phone to her ear as she called back the girl who was making everything in her life so confusing.

"Hello," Cordelia's voice greeted her after the third ring and she almost sounded too happy for ten in the morning on a Saturday.

"Hey Cordy," Avery said as she used Cordelia's nickname, hoping maybe if Cordelia was mad at her that using that nickname could win her over some. "I'm just returning your call."

"You mean the one I left yesterday morning with your mom?" Cordelia asked and she did sound a bit harsh. "It's what a good twenty-four hours later?"

Avery blushed though she knew Cordelia couldn't see her. "I know," she sighed as she shook her head. "I'm a shitty friend but how about I make that up to you and we can have lunch today at Dilly Deli? I'll pay."

"Hmm," Cordelia spoke as if she was thinking. "Let me check my calendar yeah and get back to you in say, twenty-four hours?" she asked sounding sarcastic now.

"Fuck you Cordy," Avery teased as she leaned back against her pillow.

"If only you weren't in the closet Ave," Cordelia finally laughed. "Then you could fuck me," she spoke out and though she was teasing Avery felt her heartbeat begin to hammer in her chest as she had thoughts and images of doing with Cordelia what she had done with Paisley.

Feeling Cordelia's lips on her own. Touching Cordelia's breast....having her mouth between her legs. It was enough to make Avery shiver as she moved slightly from being a bit turned on.

"I'm not in the closet," Avery shot back with a sigh. "But how about lunch, I'll still pay regardless of you being a bitch and saying I'm in some closet."

"I actually have plans with Juniper today to have lunch in the same place. She's finally agreed to let me meet that girl she keeps raving on about," Cordelia spoke before pausing only briefly. "You could come along if you wanted. Pretty sure Juniper wouldn't mind the not so heterosexual Avery Hanson joining our lesbian meeting and meeting the girl she's currently enamored with."

Avery rolled her eyes at Cordelia's words, "I'm straight," she said though now she knew that was indeed a lie. She was maybe bisexual. A very strong maybe. "But what time is the lunch? I'll join this lesbian meeting that you two probably have without me a lot."

"Not a lot," Cordelia laughed. "Just every other Saturday afternoon at one which is what time it is today. Though maybe we could both get there a bit early and hang out before Juniper gets there because I do kind of miss just us," she said and she did sound genuine in that.

Which Avery understood because lately it seemed like anymore it was all three girls instead of just one or two of them. Though in the end it had used to just be her and Cordelia but then Juniper had moved to Tulsa from New York when they had been twelve and Juniper had been thirteen and Juniper and Cordelia had bonded at school and somehow Cordelia had brought Juniper into their friend group.

Though Avery had never felt left out even when Cordelia and Juniper had both realized they were lesbians during Cordelia's freshman year of high school and Juniper's sophomore year.

"So get there at twelve then?" Avery asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yep, which means if you're going to get there on time you better hang up now Ave. I know how long it takes you to make yourself beautiful."

Hearing Cordelia say that last bit Avery only blushed, mainly because she remembered Paisley calling her beautiful last night and the words coming from Cordelia's mouth had sounded just as sincere and maybe they had given her a tiny flutter in her chest.

Just a tiny one.

"Yeah, yeah. See ya soon Cordy," Avery spoke and once she heard Cordelia offer her a goodbye she hung up the phone and slowly got out of bed.

She didn't know why but she just had a nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach now.

"You're late," Avery said as she looked up from the menu, her eyes landing on Cordelia as she moved into the booth across from Avery.

Avery had maybe gotten to Dilly Deli a bit early so in all actuality Cordelia was only really five minutes late.

"Five minutes Ave," Cordelia shot back as she rolled her eyes as a blush played on her cheeks. "Sue me."

"I think I will," Avery teased as she laid her menu down because really she knew what she'd get. She'd get what she got every time she came here..

Cordelia only snorted a laugh as she picked up her menu, "Funny," she deadpanned as she quickly browsed over the menu but Avery knew she too would get the same thing.

They were both predictable like that where as Juniper wasn't. Juniper was always changing her mind on her food orders or anything else really and maybe that was why in the end they were all three friends. In some odd way they helped to balance each other out.

"So, Juniper texted me before she came inside," Cordelia spoke as she laid her menu down and locked eyes with Avery. "She's apparently going to be early today. Which is probably a good thing we're both here now."

Avery laughed again at that, "Juniper, early? When does that ever happen?" she asked doing her best to sound shocked because Juniper was rarely early. "But why is she coming almost an hour early?"

"She didn't say," Cordelia frowned slightly. "She was kind of coy on the whole thing and I didn't like it one bit."

"Yeah Juniper being coy only means she's up to something," Avery agreed with a nod of her head. "Probably nothing good either."

"Nope," Cordelia agreed with a shake of her head. "Though speaking of good, how about giving me all the gossipy details about your date with Jeremy?"

Blushing at Cordelia's question Avery finally broke eye contact with her knowing she should have expected Cordelia to ask but then again at the same time she hadn't.

Avery only shrugged as she looked at Cordelia again, "What's there to say? We went on a date that's that."

Cordelia seemed to examine her after she spoke, her brows furrowing slightly.

"Yeah but was it good?" she asked and Avery well maybe she was going crazy but she thought she heard reluctance in Cordelia's voice just from asking that.

Like Cordelia almost didn't want to really know the answer.

Again Avery shrugged, "It was alright," she answered not sure how to answer Cordelia's question other than that.

Her date with Jeremy certainly hadn't been the best and now Avery knew why. She knew why but a part of her still wasn't ready to face anything other than her still being into men somehow. So for now it was because she was bisexual.

"Just alright?" Cordelia persisted with a raised eyebrow and for the second time today Avery felt as if someone was judging her, making her feel horrible in some way.

Though she kind of was horrible with all the lies she keep telling.

But thankfully before she could answer the door to the restaurant opened and Avery watched as Juniper walked inside followed by a long blonde haired girl who was holding her hand tightly and behind them..well fucking hell.

Behind Juniper and the girl who was almost a blonde replica of her was another person she really didn't want to see today. Paisley.

"Avery?" Juniper spoke as she made it to the table, her presence making Cordelia look at her and hopefully forget the interrogation she was giving Avery. "I didn't know you'd be here," she spoke sounding genuinely shocked to see that Avery was here.

Cordelia gave a forced smile at that as her eyes landed on the blonde holding Juniper's hand as well as the other girl with them and from the look on her face it seemed Cordelia had a look of recognition about something hit her.

"I invited her," Cordelia fessed up as she kept her forced smile. "I didn't know you wanting me to meet your girlfriend would mean that you were also going to try to set me up," she sighed as she shook her head. "I told you on the phone last night I didn't want anyone right now," she said and for some reason at Cordelia's words Avery felt like she had been physically hurt somehow.

Juniper sighed audibly as she and the blonde holding her hand let go of each other's hands before setting down next to Cordelia and Avery chewed her lip softly as she watched Paisley sit down next to her, her heart which just minutes ago had felt a little stab of pain at Cordelia's words now beating faster.

Mainly because of nerves because right now she had to act like she didn't know Paisley. That Paisley hadn't had sex with her last night and taken her virginity in a way.

Her lesbian one at least, to some extent.

"I know what you said," Juniper spoke with a shake of her head. "But I just...I wanted you to have someone too so you didn't feel left out with Avery being in denial about her sexuality and dating Jeremy and me sort of having Calliope," she smiled as she turned to look at the blonde who Avery now knew was named Calliope.

"You know," Paisley spoke up making everyone look at her, everyone but Avery anyway mainly because besides having an internal freak out she was trying not to have an external one because somehow Paisley's hand. The one closet to her had dipped under the table and was resting on her leg. "I'm not really looking for someone either," she said as Avery's hand reached down under the table too and rested on top of hers. "I'm not much for dating," she finished saying almost the exact same thing she had said to Avery last night.

"See," Cordelia smirked as she looked at Juniper with a shit eating grin on her face. "You really suck at playing matchmaker."

Avery laughed softly at Cordelia's words, a shiver running through her body as Paisley slowly linked fingers with her and Avery was almost afraid that they were tempting things.

Playing with fire by holding hands under the table but it was almost like a magnetic force had taken over and well holding hands with Paisley and just being beside her. It was enough to make Avery forget about any hurt she had over Cordelia not wanting to date anyone right now.

"Whatever," Juniper replied teasingly with a roll of her eyes. "I tried," she said before smiling and after saying that Juniper did the official introductions for Calliope her girlfriend who was in her art class as well as Paisley who she also had a class with and who lived in her apartment complex.

Which meant Avery again had to act like she didn't know Paisley. Like Paisley hadn't just been with her last night as her first lesbian experience and like they weren't secretly holding hands beneath the table.

It was hard to do but surprisingly Avery thought she was doing well and she was also glad that she had been right about Juniper's arrival getting Cordelia to drop her interrogation or at least she did for awhile.

Only deciding to open her mouth mid way through the lunch.

"So Avery?" Cordelia spoke in between bites of her egg salad sandwich. "You never did tell me why you're date with Jeremy was just alright."

Chapter Text

February 2008

Swallowing her food hard, Avery paused at Cordelia's words feeling all eyes on her now and a part of her wished she had the ability to make herself invisible. Or that by some chance of fate she had an invisibility cloak like in Harry Potter or something.

Then maybe she wouldn't feel so judged by all the lesbians who were looking at her wondering why her date with a boy had been just alright. Even if one of the lesbians here at the table knew the exact reason why.

"It just was," Avery finally spoke as she moved to take a sip of her drink. "There was just no magic there like I always thought would be there on a first day and so it was kind of just alright. But we have a second date this Friday. A double date with Jessie and Joe actually."

"Yeah and that one will probably be just alright too," Cordelia replied a bit more snarkier than usual and Avery just raised an eyebrow, not sure why her dating Jeremy seemed to be a sore subject more so for Cordelia than it did Juniper.

Even if they both thought she was a lesbian, Juniper had taken it better when she found out about Avery and Jeremy.

But before Avery could open her mouth to object to what Cordelia said, Juniper's girlfriend Calliope decided to speak up then.

"Wait, you're straight?" Calliope asked looking at her with a look of pure confusion. "Because you've pinged my gaydar since I came over to the table."

"I know Cal," Paisley nodded her head in agreement as she looked at Avery with a smirk and a hint of something else in her eyes. "This girl has pinged my gaydar as gay too from the moment I laid eyes on her today," she finished as she kept her gaze on Avery the whole time she talked and all Avery could do was blush.

She knew why Paisley was saying what she was. After all it was Paisley she had, had sex with last night. But for Calliope to assume she was a lesbian too. Maybe she just had I'm A Lesbian tattooed on her head and everyone else in the room could see it but her.

Taking a bit of her food to distract herself from talking for a bit longer Avery only heaved a soft sigh.

"Yeah I'm straight," she answered finally and she hoped no one caught how unsure and uneasy her voice sounded saying those words.

Words she now knew were probably a lie because she was at least bisexual.

Juniper shook her head at that, "I think you're still lying to yourself," she stated as she finished off her food. "I mean I get why you are too," she said and as she spoke Avery couldn't help but look at Cordelia. "You're so used to always doing what's comfortable to you so of course you'd do someone comfortable regardless of the fact that you're probably in denial of your sexuality. Though I also think you'd do this even if you weren't straight. You'd probably end up dating a girl who made you comfortable," she shrugged as she took a drink of what was left of her water.

"And that's a bad thing?" Avery asked as she slipped her hand back under the table once she had finished eating and she wasn't one bit surprised to find Paisley's hand waiting for her own.

"Not entirely but I think for you, you'd be more happy dating someone who wasn't comfortable. Someone who made you a bit uncomfortable and challenged you," she spoke with a smile and after she finished Avery felt Paisley gently squeeze her hand.

Her heart thudding in her chest a bit faster because of the still very thin line they were teetering on by holding hands like that.

"And I think you're wrong," Avery countered though saying those words almost made her hurt. Like someone had made her swallow acid or something. "Comfortable is nice too," she sighed as her mind instantly started weighing Cordelia in her mind.

Wondering if she was the comfortable option or the more dangerous one when compared to Paisley which was a silly comparison because Cordelia didn't like her and wasn't even looking to date right now and Paisley didn't even do relationships.

So both women were off limits to her in ways anyway even if she were fully a lesbian who wanted or could date women.

"Stay in denial a bit longer if you want Avery," Juniper said as if she was chastising her right now. "But one day you're going to realize I'm right and I don't want you hurt when you do."

At that Avery just let out a huff, resigning herself to the fact that her friends would always disagree with her on things like her sexuality and how she dated and maybe even if she knew they were partly right she was also stubborn and not ready to fully admit defeat.

So instead she just sat in the booth quietly for the remainder of the time they were there.

Though she did speak up again to offer a goodbye to Juniper as she left with Calliope and Paisley and as Paisley walked out the door behind Calliope and Juniper, Avery hated how she kind of missed the feel of Paisley's hand against her own.

The way their fingers locked together easily. Like they were meant to hold hands which was a fucking crazy thought.

Coming out of her thoughts though Avery heaved a soft sigh as she looked at Cordelia who was finishing her drink. "So how come Juniper was going to bring you a blind date if you supposedly told her you weren't looking to date anyone?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

Avery knew it was probably wrong to question Cordelia on something she had found odd, especially when she herself wasn't being honest with her friends right now but she was curious. A curiousness that was there because it was an odd thing to do if someone had said they weren't looking to be in a relationship.

Cordelia blushed under Avery's gaze and Avery watched as she looked away from her. Almost like she wasn't able to keep eye contact or that the words out of her mouth would be a lie and Avery was always able to tell when she was lying.

It was something that came in handy after being friends for years. Which Avery guessed was why maybe Cordelia and Juniper knew something was off about her too.

"I..I guess maybe I didn't exactly say I wasn't looking to date anyone," Cordelia answered her voice soft and almost whisper like. As if she didn't want Avery to hear her admission. "I told her the person that I like isn't available right now and you know Juniper. She took that as her cue to do something to cheer me up."

"Oh," Avery spoke her own voice wanting to give out but it didn't luckily. "Do I know the person you like?" she asked and she hoped Cordelia didn't catch the hint of jealousy in her voice.

Jealousy that was unfounded because Avery had no right to be. She and Cordelia were just friends and she probably would never be Cordelia's type regardless of Cordelia being into girls. But even in her own denial of what she really was Avery may have held out a tiny fragment of hope.

"No," Cordelia shook her head almost answering too fast and Avery had the feeling she did know the person but for some reason Cordelia didn't want her to know who it was.

Which probably hurt as much as her liking someone did.

Avery only nodded her head at that knowing she didn't want to call Cordelia on lying. In fact she really didn't have a right too because she was lying herself and it would only make her a hypocrite to expect the truth from Cordelia while holding back her own truths.

"I should get going," Avery said as she reached for her purse to get money for a tip as well as her part of the check she had decided to split with Cordelia when they had ordered. "Promised mom I'd watch Zoe and Mac tonight while she and dad went out since they didn't really get too for Valentine's Day. They had some of the little ones over so the parents could have alone time."

Cordelia laughed at that, "You're parents are never really going to stop raising children are they?" she asked with a tiny smirk on her lips.

"Probably not," Avery agreed as she handed her part of the check to Cordelia. "But at least the grand kids they get to return after awhile. There never is any returning their real kids though sometimes I'm sure secretly they wished they could no matter how much they love us."

"Surely they would never think of returning you," Cordelia replied with a wink to Avery. A wink that made her blush. "You're the good little angel."

Avery laughed when Cordelia said that, her head automatically shaking. "I wish I was," she admitted but she knew deep down if she truly really was a lesbian she would never be the good little angel or the good perfect daughter that they wanted. That was why she had to at least be bisexual. At least then she'd be half good.

Cordelia's eyebrows rose after Avery spoke and Avery knew Cordelia was probably wanting to say something. Ask whatever question was on her mind but instead she only shook her head after awhile before taking a long drink of what was left of the diet coke she had ordered.

"Call me sometime within the week and stop ignoring me okay?" she finally spoke again.

Standing up from the booth Avery chewed her lip, "I wasn't ignoring you before," she spoke as she slung her purse strap over her shoulder.

"Yes you were," Cordelia spoke sounding sure in that and all Avery did was blush and fall silent. "Just don't do it again."

"I won't," Avery said her voice coming out like a whisper as she finally turned to leave.

She knew she probably wouldn't ignore Cordelia again. Mainly because Cordelia didn't deserve that but she also knew it would hurt in ways probably. Talking to Cordelia while knowing Cordelia was keeping a secret from her and she was keeping one from both Cordelia and Juniper as well.

It was like Avery was slowly feeling like she was going to combust with all these secrets and she still had even more to keep once she did finally contact Jeremy again too.

Because there was no way she could be honest with Jeremy about anything. He wouldn't understand her sexuality crisis and he surely wouldn't understand the fact that she had cheated on him.

Making it to her car eventually after she was outside, Avery slipped inside and slowly just laid her head on the wheel knowing she needed to collect her thoughts before driving off. Knowing if she didn't she'd probably break down and cry and she didn't need that while driving.

Things would just end badly then but hell at this rate in Avery's life it felt every move she was making was going to end badly and somehow in the end she'd probably be the one that got burned the worst.

Chapter Text

February 2008

Avery took several deep breaths as she sat outside of the Wright home. It was Wednesday now and the weekend double date with her and Jeremy and Jessica and Joe was coming up but she figured it would be hard to even have a double date if she and Jeremy kept avoiding each other in the days leading up to it.

So here Avery was now outside of the Wright household and she was trying to work up the nerve to go inside and talk to Jeremy. Not even really sure why she was nervous. Maybe it was more like she was afraid that somehow Jeremy would be able to take one look at her and just know that she cheated.

Or that he'd look at her and know she was having issues with her sexuality. Issues that had taken place when they kissed but ones that Avery was now sure had probably been there all along. Even if she wanted to deny that they had been.

Denying was actually something Avery was becoming good at lately it seemed.

Taking a deep breath again Avery finally took her car key out of the ignition and stepped out of the car. Her head turning to look at the porch as she heard the door open.

Jeremy walking outside as he crossed his arms over his chest. "I was wondering if you were going to stay parked outside all day," he spoke sounding a bit like he was teasing her and he probably was. But Avery just blushed because of course she should have known that he had probably been watching her as she debated with herself on getting out of the car to go talk to him.

"Eh stage fright I guess," Avery replied back as she walked to porch where Jeremy was now sitting on the steps and she didn't see how he could stand to be out here in no jacket while sitting what had to be cold steps.

"Stage fright to see your boyfriend?" Jeremy asked with a tiny smirk on his lips. "I don't know if I should feel offended or not there Avery."

Avery finally laughed feeling some of the tension inside of her ease, "Not to see you per say. I guess more so because I was ignoring you," she shrugged as she chewed her lip. "I feel awful for it."

"It's fine," Jeremy said his words surprising Avery some. "I get why you were ignoring me."

"You do?" Avery asked the surprise she felt showing as her heart rate picked up because maybe he had been able to read and tell that she had cheated. Maybe he had been able to see that she wasn't sure if she was fully into women or if she still could like men.

Though what Paisley had done to her. Eating her out and fingering her had been amazing and Avery wasn't sure she even wanted a boy to try that. Which she was positive should have told her everything she needed to know about where she stood on her sexuality.

But again Avery was a Hanson and majority of them were stubborn. It was something her mom always liked to tell their dad they got from him.

"Yeah," Jeremy nodded his head obviously not picking up on Avery's inner turmoil. "Our kiss freaked you out," he said and his words once again surprised Avery because they weren't what she had been expecting him to say. "I shouldn't have just kissed you like that. I was too rushed and I'm sorry."

Shaking her head Avery only frowned, "You have nothing to be sorry for," she told him as she slowly reached over for his hand. Taking it in her own and as she did so she knew it was a stark comparison to the weekend when she had been sneakily holding hands with Paisley under a table.

Their fingers didn't seem to go well together nor did his touch make her skin feel like it was on fire like Paisley's did.

It was enough to make Avery feel guilty and again feel like she was a failure as a girlfriend and in her first real relationship.

"The kiss was unexpected but that wasn't why I was ignoring you," Avery sighed as she squeezed his hand. "I'm just going through some stuff and I needed to figure things out."

Now Jeremy raised an eyebrow as he looked at her and Avery chewed her lip almost wishing she hadn't said what she did. Hadn't told him she was going through stuff.

"Have you figured things out yet?" Jeremy asked his voice going a bit softer. Almost like he was afraid of what she was going to say.

"No but I'm sure I'll figure it out soon enough," Avery told him honestly or well partly honestly.

She knew she'd figure it out once she decided to stop lying to herself about what she knew was the truth. What she knew could ruin her life as she saw it.

Jeremy only nodded as he remained silent for a bit. Almost too silent.

"You know I'm here if you ever want to talk about whatever it is," he finally spoke as he moved a bit closer. Leaving a light kiss on her forehead. "I'm your boyfriend and I'll listen to whatever it is."

Nodding her head Avery gave him what she hoped was a really good fake smile, "I know," she told him because she did know he'd listen but she also knew deep down she could never tell him what the real issue was.

Jeremy wouldn't understand, especially when it was revealed that she had cheated on him. They'd probably never even be able to be friends again after that.

"But you still can't tell me what's up?" Jeremy asked though it sounded more like a statement to Avery than an actual question in the end.

Avery shook her head as her fake smile was replaced with a frown, "I wish I could but not right now," she sighed knowing that was the best answer she could give him. Not right now though she knew the real answer was more like not ever.

"Well when you can I'm here," Jeremy reiterated as he smiled though it was a sad one. "I'm always going to be."

Again Avery nodded as she just eyed Jeremy and maybe against her judgement she let herself lean in and close the gap between them. Kissing him on the lips. A kiss that was just like the first one they shared.

It lacked a spark that should be there. Something she had felt with Paisley. But this time as Jeremy responded back to the kiss Avery didn't pull away. She kept kissing him, hoping that maybe if she kept it up whatever was missing would show up.

But sadly a spark never did and Avery did finally pull away. An action that only made her hate herself because after she did she saw how happy Jeremy looked. How hopefully he looked and Avery knew she couldn't look that happy or hopeful. Not when she literally still felt nothing romantic with the boy who was supposed to be her boyfriend.

No matter how much she forced herself to try it just wasn't there. But it was also the look on Jeremy's face that let Avery know she still didn't have the nerve to hurt him. Not yet anyway. She was just too nice and hurting Jeremy would kill her because he had been her friend for so long.

"I should go now though," Avery spoke as she stood up from where she sat on the stairs. "Sort of told mom I'd help her with some lunch thing she has with a few of her church friends," she partly lied.

Her mom was hosting lunch with a few ladies from the church but Avery had never said she would help. Jessica had offered to do that instead and Avery let her because Jessica was probably much better at getting a lot of food ready in a short amount of time.

Better than Avery would be because Avery just sometimes was not good while working under pressure. Unless of course she was working on a painting or a drawing. Then she was good at it if only slightly.

Jeremy nodded as he stood up as well, "See you on Saturday?" he asked almost like he was afraid she wouldn't show for the double date.

Which of course was a funny idea because Avery knew if she didn't show up that Jessica would probably be pissed at her. More than she had been a few days ago when confronting her on the first date.

"See you Saturday," Avery confirmed before turning and leaving. Going back to her car and getting inside.

Though once she was inside and she had started the car up, she didn't head home after backing out of the Wright family driveway.

Instead she headed somewhere else entirely.

Arriving at the record store Avery parked her car. But just like when she was at Jeremy's she found herself reluctant to get out.

Mainly because of nerves because she knew why she was here. She was at the record store to deliberately try and see Paisley which was something she knew she probably shouldn't do. Yet here she was and hell Paisley may not have even worked today.

So maybe she was nervous over nothing. Just nervous to be nervous because she had foolishly ran to see someone she knew she shouldn't see. Someone who she was only supposed to have experimented with.

Not someone that Avery ran too because her life was still confusing and she felt like she was slowly drowning in a huge ass ocean. An ocean that was threatening to pull her under each and every day. An ocean she really didn't want to drown in.

Avery wanted to be free but she also knew the costs of being free and that was something she couldn't do yet. Which meant she probably would drown.

Taking a deep breath Avery finally willed herself to get out of her car. Pocketing her keys once she had and soon headed inside.

Her eyes eventually landing on Paisley not even seconds once she was inside. Their eyes locking from where Avery stood in the doorway and Paisley stood behind the counter.

It was an action that somehow made Avery's stomach do somersaults which was weird because it wasn't like she liked Paisley. Paisley was just someone who made her feel safe. Yet her body was reacting like it would if she were Cordelia and she wasn't.

Avery didn't like her. Just liked that she could be open with her..that and she liked how good Paisley had been with her mouth and her fingers. A thought that sent a shiver down her spine as well as semi bringing her out of her own head as she walked to the counter slowly.

A blush soon coating her cheeks when she did make it to the counter and she saw the curious look Paisley was shooting her.

"Are you free tonight?" Avery blurted out and the moment the words left her mouth she almost felt silly and a bit pathetic for even asking.

Mainly because she thought she had sounded desperate. "I just need to escape from things for a while and forget how horrible of a girlfriend I am," she justified her reasons for wanting to hang out with Paisley with a shrug of her shoulders. "I still feel nothing when my own boyfriend kisses me."

After she confessed the last bit Avery watched as Paisley remained silent for awhile. Though Avery knew from the look on her face and her furrowed brows that she was looking for the right words to say and that was enough to make Avery nervous again.

Not sure what the other girl was about to say to her and also afraid of that as well.

"So basically what you need is for me to get between your legs again?" Paisley asked as she propped her elbow on the counter. Her chin resting on her hand. "Because you're still in denial about being gay."

Blushing more at Paisley's accusations, Avery wanted to open her mouth and say that it wasn't what she wanted. That she didn't want Paisley making her orgasm again. That she only needed a friend but Avery knew she couldn't do that because it would be a lie.

"Yeah I guess that is what I need," Avery agreed almost hating herself even more. "Need to just be sure I am bisexual."

Paisley snorted at that as she laughed, "Oh Hanson," she sighed as she shook her head. "You aren't bisexual," she stated still sounding so sure on that. "But I get off at the same time and you can meet me at my apartment. Maybe this time I'll even let you return the favor and get between my legs."

At those words Avery swore her mouth went dry and that was probably why she found herself unable to talk. All she could do was nod her head that she understood Paisley's words before finally turning and leaving the record store with her mind now pretty much in the gutter because of all the images it was filled with.

It'd be a miracle if she made it until she met with Paisley tonight. Avery was pretty sure she'd probably touch herself before then and when she did she was sure to be thinking of herself getting Paisley off like Paisley got her off.

Chapter Text

February 2008

Frowning as she looked at herself in front of the mirror Avery knew she was being pathetic. Worrying over what to wear to go to Paisley's for a..well more than likely a booty call but here she was standing in front of her mirror worrying. Much like she had worried mere days ago when she had went on her first date with Jeremy.

But this wasn't a date. It was sex and Paisley wasn't her girlfriend. She had only known her for five days so Paisley was just her friend if even that, that she liked to fool around with. Even if her liking that meant opening a can of worms Avery was still afraid of because she knew when she opened them she'd have to eventually decide stuff.

Do things she still wasn't ready for because there were people in her life she cared deeply for that she was afraid she'd lose if she was honest with herself. People who were her own flesh and blood. So for now maybe she'd live in blissful ignorance. Pretend to be happy with Jeremy and in some ways she was happy.

Just not as happy as she could be and if she was a normal girlfriend she wouldn't be dreading the double date they had with Jessica and Joe coming up this weekend. Nor would she be cheating on Jeremy and if he knew the truth he'd probably be devastated.

Hating her for cheating and hating her for not being happy and just using him to stay in denial. Even though maybe she did love him in her own right but not like he deserved. Not like he needed.

Coming out of her thoughts Avery only shook her head before throwing her hair into a tight ponytail and turning to leave her room. Nerves building in her stomach as she went downstairs. Hoping that she could avoid her family because she really didn't want to explain to them why she was wearing makeup and a nice shirt just to go visit Juniper.

Which had been the lie she had made up to get out of the house this time. That she was going to visit Juniper and luckily her parents had fell for it and well she would be close enough to Juniper that maybe it wasn't a total lie. She'd be at the same apartment complex anyway.

Avery wasn't almost in the clear, having just stepped outside to head to her car when she heard a car door in the driveway and she turned her head seeing Zac get out of his car and she paused in her tracks to give him a look.

There was something off about him from the last time she saw but she couldn't tell what but it was there. Something different in her brother even in the way he walked and carried himself. Like maybe he wasn't all that happy even with the upcoming birth of his son which should have made him happy but then again it also had to be bittersweet too.

With Kate's past miscarriage and so maybe that's what it was. His whole mood was just off because of things bothering him. The new life changes he had happening.

"Hey Avie baby," Zac spoke as he got closer to where she was still standing on the porch and of course Avery rolled her eyes at the nickname he used. One which had been given to her in childhood and one she hated. "Hot date tonight?" he asked her with an eyebrow raise as he stopped on the porch and Avery blushed at the way he examined her.

Shaking her head no she looked away from his gaze, "Just going to visit Juniper. Her parents are out of town and it's just her and her brother Wyatt there tonight and she's bored out of her mind," she said continuing the lie she had told her parents. "Don't really have a hot date until Friday night," she admitted having realized that she hadn't told Zac yet that she was even dating Jeremy.

Though maybe he already knew word did travel fast in this family and sometimes it seemed almost hard to keep a secret yet here she was lying nowadays like it was the easiest thing in the world knowing somehow and some way it could all get exposed.

"Friday night?" Zac asked sounding almost amused. "Who's the lucky man..I mean boy he better be a boy and not a man," he spoke though there was still an amusement to his tone even after he had corrected himself on his wording.

"Jeremy," Avery confessed blushing and she was a bit thankful she had put some blush on. Maybe her own blush wouldn't be as noticeable. "Had our first date on Valentine's day."

Zac seemed to fall silent at that and his silence almost made her nervous. "Always figured he was gay," he finally spoke and his words made Avery laugh some because surely she'd know if he was gay. "But I guess it makes sense. You two have always been close and he's Joe's brother and Mac's best friend."

"Yeah, it does make sense," Avery agreed almost feeling with the way Zac had worded it he had made it sound like she was just settling for Jeremy and hell maybe she was for now.

He was safe and brought less damage than who she'd really rather have deep down which was Cordelia.

After speaking an almost awkward silence passed for a few minutes before Avery inhaled deeply before giving Zac a tiny smile. "Well I better go," she said as she made to move off the porch finally. "Don't want Juniper waiting too long," she spoke as she moved past Zac on the way off the porch.

Though before she made it fully to her car she turned back, seeing that Zac had just put his hand on the doorknob to go inside. But she called his name out before he could open the door and she watched as he turned to face her. Obviously confused as to why she wanted his attention.

"I just...I wanted to say I love you Zac and yeah," Avery muttered just wanting him to know. Especially since he had seemed off earlier as he had walked to the porch. "You're my big brother so I have too I guess but I wanted you to know," she said with a tiny laugh and slight shrug of her shoulders.

Zac smiled at her words. Not a big one and it didn't quite reach his eyes but it was enough it seemed. At least Avery hoped it was.

"Love you too Avie baby," Zac nodded as his smile faltered some. "And tell Jeremy if he hurts you I'll gladly kick his ass. I'm pretty sure I could rough him up pretty well."

Avery laughed though she had to bite her tongue to stop herself from saying that she doubted he could do much harm to Jeremy. Not when he looked like sometimes a gust of wind could come along and blow him away but then again she was sure in a few weeks or so he'd gain some weight, that's how it always went with Zac but of course it was just the strict fasting he did.

At least Avery hoped it was just because of the church and the fasting and it wasn't like he was that skinny even if he looked like a gust of wind could blow him away. There were no bones coming out and wasn't that when people should get worried?

"Yeah, yeah I'll tell him," Avery smiled knowing her smile probably seemed much more genuine than Zac's smile from just moments before and a part of her wished she could take whatever was nagging Zac away from him.

But she couldn't and she wasn't sure even if she did what she'd do when she had her own shit to deal with and sort through.

Turning back around Avery finished walking to her car. Getting in and starting it up before driving to the apartment complex where both Paisley and Juniper lived.

The nerves from earlier coming back and settling inside of her stomach but she hoped they'd go away before the night was up.

It wasn't like everything tonight would be new to her. Paisley had been between her legs the last time though if Paisley kept her word and let Avery between her legs well that would be new. Something Avery hadn't ever done before and she hoped she'd be good at it.

Had maybe watched a few porn videos when she got home just to maybe get some tips as well as to help get her off and god had it gotten her off. Watching two women go at it with each other and get off. It had been some of the best orgasms she had given herself especially with the added of images of Paisley in her head while also watching the porn.

Arriving at Paisley's, Avery parked her car in a parking space and got out of her car cautiously. Looking around just in case Juniper was out, afraid of being busted by her friend because again that was something she didn't need. Not now when she still felt so conflicted and confused.

Knowing there was no way she'd be able to explain her reason for being here at the apartment complex. Not when Juniper had maybe saw her last time if the text after was anything to go by.

Feeling like she was in the clear Avery finally began to walk towards the building where Paisley lived. Her nerves now getting much worse. To the point where she almost contemplated turning around and going back to her car. Getting in and driving off and pretending again that she was fine and sane and that she didn't want a girl to get her off.

Pretend that she didn't like the feel of another girls mouth against her own or the feeling of that same mouth against her wet pussy as said girl used her fingers too, to get her off.

But deep down Avery knew she'd never be able to pretend that she didn't like it or want it and wasn't that why she had really ran to Paisley after seeing Jeremy today? Not just because she was confused but because deep down she had wanted the sex again.

Wanted the feeling of Paisley's lips and fingers on her. Making her moan as she got off and forgot all of the issues plaguing her life. Forgot that she was trying and failing to be a good christian girl and a good girlfriend to the first boy she had ever really dated.

Making it to Paisley's apartment, Avery came out of her thoughts long enough to raise her hand and knock on the door. Biting her lip softly as she waited for Paisley to answer the door. Though when the door did open Avery paused her heartbeat coming to a stop as she came face to face with Calliope.

Juniper's girlfriend and the girl who was Paisley's friend and fuck this wasn't what she had planned on happening.

"Avery?" Calliope asked with a raised eyebrow as if she too was surprised that Avery was on the other side of the door. "What a surprise," she spoke sounding truly and utterly surprised just like she looked. "When Pai said she was having a friend over I didn't expect it was going to be you," she laughed softly almost like she was used to Paisley telling her about her sex life and maybe she was.

Avery was used to hearing about Cordelia and Junipers or more so Juniper's because Cordelia seemed to have a lack of one. Much like Avery had, had up until a few days ago when she had first had sex with Paisley.

"I knew you gave me gay vibes the other day," Calliope continued in Avery's silence. "God Junie is going to love knowing she was right about her in denial best friend being a lesbian."

"I..." Avery started wanting to deny Calliope's words. Tell her that she wasn't a lesbian but no denial came. Instead she just stood there after only saying I, her heartbeat beating a bit faster as her palms began to get sweaty and she was half afraid she was going to have or was already having a panic attack.

She'd never had one before but surely this had to be how one felt. Like she was about to literally die and she was because this wasn't how she wanted to be outed. Not by Juniper's girlfriend and not just because she was having sex with Paisley.

If she was gay then she wanted to come out in her own way and not be forced out by someone else.

"She's not a lezzie Cal," Paisley's voice sounded from behind Calliope and Calliope moved out of the way slightly, giving Avery a glimpse of Paisley who was clad only in a towel, her hair wet with water droplets still on her body slightly and Avery did her best not to stare. "She's just confused," she shrugged though as she talked she gave Avery a look.

A look that said she knew her own words were a lie but they weren't. Avery was confused about her sexuality still or so she swore.

Calliope raised her eyebrow as she looked at Paisley curiously, "You said you'd already hooked up with the girl coming over tonight when I was giving you shit for wanting to kick me out of your house so you could shower. I think one hookups enough to know things," she stated and her words made Avery blush though she did finally find the strength to step inside the apartment.

Doing her best to look away from both Paisley and Calliope once she was inside.

"Yeah well Hanson over there is still confused," Paisley said clearly sounding annoyed now. "Also like you just said I was trying to kick you out while I was showering and you had promised to leave. Go see your lover girl or something as you put it," she continued and her annoyance faded some but not much.

Calliope only snorted, "You're trying to drop the subject for now as well as my grilling of Avery," she said and her words made Avery look up at Calliope. "Just know this isn't over and I will grill you the next time I see you."

"I'd be disappointed if you didn't," Paisley told her any traces of annoyance now gone completely. "Now get out of here you annoying twit."

"Yeah, yeah going now Pai," Calliope relented walking out of the still open door and once she had left, shutting the door behind her Avery let out a breath she hadn't even realized she had been holding inside.

"She's going to tell Juniper," Avery spoke as she looked over at Paisley. The same panic from earlier now taking hold in her and this time she felt tears beginning to form in her eyes. "This isn't how I wanted things to go and she's going to fucking tell Juniper who will tell Cordelia and I don't want that. Not yet," she muttered almost speaking in one big breath as the tears began to go down her cheeks.

Her heartbeat still just as fast as before and her hands slightly shaking.

Before she could say anything else though Paisley had walked over to her and enveloped her in a hug. Which shocked Avery some and also caused Avery to bend down some because Paisley was short. Shorter than Avery's five foot eight anyway and Avery buried her head into Paisley's shoulder as she cried more.

Still feeling so scared and afraid that Calliope would out her from the closet she was in. A closet that she wasn't sure if it was labeled bisexual or lesbian though deep down she had a feeling what it was which scared her.

"Cal won't tell," Paisley spoke softly as she just held Avery. Her words sounding so sure and Avery wished she could be that sure but she wasn't because obviously she had only met Calliope this past weekend. "Cal's just forgot what it was like to be young and scared and in the closet. But eventually she'll come to her senses she always does when she acts like an idiot."

Avery laughed softly at Paisley's words though she didn't budge from moving her head or removing herself from Paisley's embrace because it felt good. Felt right.

"She's your best friend, pretty sure you shouldn't call her an idiot," she said as she calmed slightly though a part of her would probably be on edge for a while unsure if Calliope would tell or not.

Paisley laughed as well after Avery spoke. "Her being my best friend means I get to call her an idiot whenever I please," she defended as she loosened her grip on Avery some. "I mean you've never called Cordelia or Juniper idiots?"

"Okay maybe you have me there," Avery sighed as she lifted her head slightly blushing when she realized how close she still was to Paisley. "You're sure Calliope won't tell?" she asked her voice going all soft and low because yeah the fear was still there.

"She won't tell," Paisley said as she locked eyes with Avery. "Trust me on that Hanson," she spoke in a reassuring tone as a smile played on her lips. Lips that Avery wanted to kiss. An urge that she blamed on the close proximity between them right now.

"I do trust you," Avery stated because fuck she did trust Paisley. Had trusted her with so much already and again she'd be willing to trust her again if she said her friend wouldn't out Avery.

After all she probably knew Calliope better than anyone just like Avery knew Juniper and Cordelia well even if Avery now suspected that Cordelia did like someone and was deliberately keeping who it was from Avery.

Though with all the secrets Avery had she had no right to question Cordelia or pester her about it.

"I trust you," Avery reiterated before deciding to prove her words by leaning in to kiss Paisley with a force and passion that hadn't been there with Jeremy earlier today.

May never be there with Jeremy no matter how much she wanted it too and when Paisley kissed her back all of the sparks her kiss with Jeremy lacked where there now. As if being reignited again after just a short time of being out.

Deepening the kiss Avery moaned out softly into Paisley's mouth as Paisley slowly walked them both down the hall and into her bedroom. Luck being on their side as neither ran into anything which was well yeah it had to be luck because on the way to the bedroom Paisley had shed her towel as well as somehow undoing Avery's pants.

Pants that Avery stepped out of when they reached Paisley's room and she pulled away from the kiss long enough to remove the pants as well as her panties. Acutely aware of the fact that she was naked from the waist down while Paisley was completely naked and it was enough to make her blush as she went in for another kiss.

Her mouth opening instinctively as Paisley's tongue brushed across her lips wanting an entrance she let it have and her legs too let Paisley finish the walk to the bed. Where Avery finally took over when they reached it. Pushing Paisley down gently before falling over her.

The kiss getting a bit more frantic when their hips ground into each other and Avery felt herself getting wet as her skin was met with the other woman's smooth skin. A part of her almost wishing that her pussy could have brushed across Paisley's. Giving herself a friction she wanted and needed.

Biting down on Paisley's lip gently and briefly Avery pulled away from the kiss again. Long enough to shed out of her shirt as well as her bra. Leaving herself as naked as Paisley was now and again Avery blushed at that fact. Her eyes slowly taking in the other woman's body because last time she hadn't been nearly as naked.

Because somehow Paisley had kept on her pants and panties so tonight was the first time that she was seeing her naked and god was she beautiful.

Beautiful in a way Avery hadn't realized existed and god now that she did she wasn't sure she wanted to forget it. Forget the image of the naked woman beneath her or the way that she felt like this was right. Oh so fucking right.

"Like what you see?" Paisley asked her slightly cocky voice bringing Avery out of her thoughts. Drawing Avery's attention to her face were she wore a mischievous little grin. "Does my naked body get you all hot and bothered Hanson?" she asked as she leaned up slowly, her face stopping mere inches from Avery's as she reached for Avery's hand.

Slipping the hand between her legs were Avery could feel a wetness, knowing that she was the cause of it. That somehow she affected Paisley as much as Paisley did her.

"See what you've done to me?" Paisley asked still sounding a bit cocky though she had a more seductive edge now. "You and your body and those fucking lips on mine. Lips that I keep imagining on the place where your hand is," she continued and Avery just listened a moan coming out at the last bit because god did she want that too.

Biting her lip Avery closed the tiny gap between them before kissing Paisley again. Her hand slowly moving of it's own free will against Paisley's wet flesh, much like Avery would move her hand against herself when she masturbated.

A thrill taking over when Paisley moaned at what she was doing. The other woman getting wetter as she continued to move her hand for a bit longer before finally slipping a finger inside.

Paisley letting out an audible gasp at the intrusion of Avery's finger. Though she didn't complain. Instead she instructed Avery to move her finger inside of her fast...faster than what she was and of course Avery complied because in this moment she'd probably give Paisley everything she wanted.

She'd finger her fast before eventually going down on her and then she'd let Paisley return the favor and go down on her. Eat her out like she had days ago.

Give Avery an orgasm better than Avery could give herself.

"This what you want Paisley?" Avery asked softly as she continued the fast pace of her finger, adding a second finger inside as she spoke and instead of Paisley verbally speaking she just moaned and Avery took that moan as a yes.

That this was exactly what she wanted but of course Avery wanted a verbal answer. Not just a moan.

"I didn't quite hear you," Avery continued as she slowed her fingers down to tease Paisley. "Was that what you wanted Paisley?"

Paisley nodded her head quickly, "Y..yeah," she muttered out through a moan as her eyes fell shut tightly. "When did you become such a fucking tease Hanson?" she questioned though she didn't sound angry.

More than likely she was probably surprised at how bold Avery was being because after all this was Avery's second time with a woman and yet she was taking control like it didn't bother her. Though being in control here was nice because at least it was something she could control while the rest of her life seemed out of control.

"Maybe I already was and I just hid it well," Avery replied back with a smirk before leaning in to kiss Paisley again and as they kissed Avery slowly slipped her fingers out of Paisley's pussy. An action that caused Paisley to whine into the kiss though the whine died down as Avery broke away from the kiss.

Slowly letting her lips trail down the other woman's body. Wondering if she was making Paisley's skin feel as if it was on fire the way Paisley did her anytime they touched now.

Reaching her destination which was between Paisley's legs Avery looked up at Paisley with a tiny apprehensive smile. Hoping that the porn videos she had watched today did her well and even if they didn't she hoped Paisley lied at least.

Didn't make her feel bad after it was all done and over because the last thing Avery needed was a hit to her confidence and ego.

"You'll be fine," Paisley spoke as if she had read Avery's mind though then again maybe her face showed her true emotions. "Just relax Hanson," she said before reaching down and letting her hand run through Avery's hair slightly. Causing Avery's eyes to flutter shut briefly as she took a deep calming breath.

Opening her eyes again she finally leaned forward. Her mouth leaving a light kiss on Paisley's wet flesh which earned her a tiny moan and the moan alone was enough to urge Avery on.

Her tongue slowly coming out and working at licking and sucking on every bit of flesh she could find which again got Avery more moans from Paisley and the more Paisley moaned the more Avery felt herself relaxing and growing confident in what she was doing.

Even being surprised at how natural this felt. How right it seemed to be going down on another woman. Tasting another woman on her tongue. A taste that she wasn't opposed too if she were being honest.

Hearing Paisley's breathing getting harsher Avery slowly looked up, watching the way her face twisted some and her eyes fell shut which made Avery get the distinct feeling that Paisley was close.

Close to her orgasm and Avery wanted to bring her over the edge so she kept her tongue moving for a brief few seconds before her mouth found Paisley's clit which she soon latched onto. One of her fingers slowly moving back inside of Paisley working it for just a few minutes more than likely, as she sucked on Paisley's clit.

Feeling a bit proud when Paisley let out a string of curse words as her body went a bit lax.

Avery had just given another woman an orgasm for the first time and god did it feel really good and the fact that she could get used to it scared her a lot. Way more than she liked because again she knew what it meant and again she was way too afraid to admit what it meant out loud.

Moving from between Paisley's legs Avery slowly moved back up, "Well how did I do?" she asked softly as she laid beside Paisley.

"Did better than I thought you would for your first time going down," Paisley answered as she turned to look at Avery. "If I were grading you I'd give you a B plus," she teased which made Avery blush slightly. "Maybe that grade can be changed the more times you go down on me though," she finished sounding so sure that they'd be doing this again.

Which Avery wouldn't be opposed to. After all it was no strings attached and it was experimenting while she teeter tottered on the edge of being bisexual or not.

Though Avery didn't voice her words. Instead she leaned in to peck Paisley on the lips, "Now I think it's time you return the favor there Chambers," she smirked as she pulled away and locked eyes with Paisley.

A part of her hating the way her stomach did about a million somersaults and hating the way that Paisley just already felt like home and as if she was important to Avery.

It was much too soon for that and Avery's life was much too complicated as well. Not to mention she wanted Cordelia...had, had a crush on her before she even realized she really may have liked chicks. But yet here she was feeling for Paisley almost exactly how she felt for Cordelia.

Chapter Text

February 2008

Fixing her hair back into a tight ponytail Avery heaved a tiny sigh. Almost not wanting to go back home yet because if she went home and went to bed she'd be one day closer to Friday and her double date that she had. A date that she didn't want.

Wished she could get out of for numerous reasons but she knew she couldn't. Not when Jessica was expecting her to go and there was no letting down her sister who seemed to really want her and Jeremy's relationship to work and so she'd go and pretend to be happy.

Hoping that no one could tell that she wasn't. Hoping that her sister who seemed to have everything together couldn't tell that she wasn't happy with a boy who should have made her happy. A boy who deserved someone who he made happy and someone who truly and really loved him.

Something which Avery knew she couldn't give him yet at the same time she was afraid to let him go. Afraid to admit some hard truths to herself because no matter how much she lied to herself maybe she was the scared little girl who still believed that God would send her to hell for being in love with another girl.

For having sex with another girl even and so maybe that's why she still clung so tightly to Jeremy and the security that relationship gave her. Because it meant that she could maybe save herself from hell and have a fallback. A safety net in a boy who had been her best friend forever and someone who made her feel safe and comfortable. Never truly challenged her.

"You okay there Hanson?" Paisley asked from where she was still laying in her bed, wrapped in her sheets. "You've been sitting on the edge of my bed for five minutes now not moving and normally I wouldn't complain about a hot girl sitting at the edge of my bed but you're way too overdressed for my liking."

Avery turned to look at Paisley, a tiny blush coming onto her cheeks though she did her best to remind herself that this was no strings. She shouldn't be getting butterflies in her stomach for a girl who had made her promise the first time they hooked up not to fall in love.

If she did she'd be on a slippery she may have already been on anyway with all the shit going on right now.

"I'm fine," Avery partly lied because in some ways she was fine. "Just dreading going home because it means once I go to sleep and wake up I'll be one more day closer to Friday."

Paisley furrowed her eyebrows at that, "What's so bad about Friday?" she asked and of course Avery blushed because she realized then she hadn't told Paisley about the double date. "Some of the best parties are on Friday's."

"Because I have a double date on Friday with Jeremy and my sister and her boyfriend. It's one I didn't even want but my sister roped me in and I'm dreading it," Avery frowned as she shook her head. "I'm such an awful girlfriend because I'd rather be dead than on a double date with my boyfriend."

"You could just not go," Paisley suggested as if Avery had a choice in not going. Something Avery was quite sure she actually had no choice in whatsoever.

Avery shook her head with a slight frown, "I wish it were that easy," she sighed knowing it wasn't.

There was no way she couldn't just not go. Not when it seemed like Jessica was always holding her to a higher standard. Like sometimes her whole family did and she didn't like letting them down, especially the ones she was close too.

Paisley only shrugged as she sat up some in the bed, holding the sheet around her still naked body. "Well you know if you decide it is that easy there is a party this Friday that I'm going to with Calliope and Juniper. I think Cordelia is going too so they'll know the details if you want to come."

"Cordelia is going to a party?" Avery asked feeling a bit surprised because she had always thought Cordelia was like her someone who didn't do parties often.

"Pretty sure it was a decision made by Juniper and Callie when they were still trying to set us up," Paisley answered as she raised an eyebrow. "You jealous Cordelia is going to a party without you?" she questioned with a slight teasing tone. "I mean I think I have figured out she's the one you have a crush on."

Blushing at Paisley's words, Avery looked down and away from her, "I'm not jealous," she denied though deep down maybe she was though she wasn't sure if she was jealous about Cordelia going to the party or the thought that Paisley could sleep with Cordelia.

But then again hadn't Cordelia made it clear last weekend that she liked someone who wasn't available right now? So maybe Cordelia wouldn't sleep with Paisley but again Avery was still irrationally jealous over the prospect and the weird part was she wasn't sure if it was because of her crush on Cordelia or her weird developing feelings for Paisley that she shouldn't have at all.

"You're a terrible liar Hanson," Paisley smiled and all Avery could do was blush again.

Avery chewed her lip as she finally looked at Paisley, "Maybe I'm a bit jealous," she finally relented being honest. "Just I don't want you sleeping with Cordelia," she sighed knowing she probably sounded pathetic and dumb.

Not wanting Paisley and Cordelia sleeping together when she herself was sleeping with Paisley. It was rather selfish and dumb and proved just how jealous she truly was.

"Would just find it weird and all," Avery finished in Paisley's silence praying to god that Paisley didn't judge her for how she felt. Because she herself knew it was stupid she didn't need someone else to tell her what she knew deep down.

"You don't have to worry," Paisley shook her head as she moved to reach out for one of Avery's hands and Avery hated the way her stomach did flip flops still. "Cordelia isn't my type so I wouldn't sleep with her. Though if I'm being honest I don't think she's your type either Avery."

Avery laughed slightly at Paisley's words, "I don't think I even have a type right now. I'm not even sure I'm fully lesbian."

"Nah," Paisley smirked as she squeezed Avery's hand. "You have a type and Cordelia isn't it."

Quirking an eyebrow up Avery looked at Paisley curiously, wondering what the other girl thought her type was. "Then what exactly is my type?" she questioned voicing her thoughts from moments ago.

"Women and people who don't make you feel comfortable," Paisley answered her face staying straight and she sounded like she honestly believed her words. Like she knew Avery better than Avery knew herself. "Juniper was right when she said you like people who make you feel comfortable but that isn't your type. I think deep down you know your type is someone a bit more dangerous, someone who doesn't make you comfortable and who will make you come out of your comfort zone."

Falling silent Avery looked down at her and Paisley's hands, hating that Paisley may have been right. That Paisley may have indeed knew her better than she knew herself or about the same as she knew herself.

"I think you are wrong," Avery stated with a shake of her head though she knew both her and Paisley knew her words were a lie. "I'm content with people who make me comfortable and I don't need someone who challenges me."

Paisley only let out a sarcastic laugh before pulling Avery closer and pecking her on the lips softly, "If you say so," she muttered after pulling away.

"I do say so," Avery muttered back before kissing Paisley again and this time as they kissed it was longer than a peck and it resulted in Paisley moving back down on the bed and pulling Avery along with her. A shiver going down Avery's spine as Paisley's hand made it's way up her shirt.

Though it also made Avery come to her senses and pull away, "I need to go," she frowned knowing she couldn't stay out all night or her parents would freak out.

"Do you really?" Paisley asked as she eyed Avery. "You can't be bad for just one night? Stay with me and be bad," she spoke with a purr practically coming out of her and god damn it Avery felt her resolve wavering.

"I think I can," Avery nodded her head giving into what Paisley clearly wanted and also what Avery wanted deep down.

Even though she knew there would be consequences tomorrow with her parents more than likely. Mainly because she was sure they had already probably called Juniper and found out her excuse for being out of the house was a lie. Which meant that Avery would have to tell Juniper too or make up another lie for why she had lied to her parents about where she had been.

After agreeing Avery leaned down and kissed Paisley again, coming to the realization that she probably wouldn't be getting much sleep tonight. Something that was even more confirmed when Paisley's hand went back under her shirt, pushing it up slowly this time.

Waking the next day Avery stretched some as she opened her eyes, her eyes landing on the clock and once they did she sat up quickly in bed. It was almost one in the afternoon and she had slept later than she had meant too and now she was even more certain that she was going to be in trouble.

Her parents were going to kill her for sure or at least ground her and Avery who usually hated being grounded almost felt relief at the thought. Because if she was grounded then she couldn't go to the date she didn't want to be on anyway.

Shaking her head Avery slowly slipped out of Paisley's bed and found her clothes in a hurry. Putting them on in just as much of a hurry and it was only after she had her clothes on that she saw the note lying on the pillow where Paisley had slept.

Biting her lip she reached down and picked it up, reading over the words that Paisley had written.

Sorry I didn't wake you when I got up to leave for classes. You looked so peaceful sleeping and I didn't want to disturb you ;). Call me later and let me know how much trouble you get in 914-545-7896

After reading the letter Avery couldn't help but grin even if a part of her was a bit angry that Paisley hadn't woken her up but instead she did her best to ignore that anger. Pocketing the letter before leaving the room a part of her dreading going home even if being grounded was looking like a good option.

Arriving home Avery parked her car in the driveway, getting out and heading inside though she slowed when she reached the porch, seeing Zoe sitting outside with one of their dogs.

"You know mom's going to kill you when you go inside right?" Zoe asked as she looked up at Avery a small smile on her face. Almost like she took joy in Avery getting in trouble and maybe she did.

At least it wouldn't be her and Avery couldn't lie sometimes she had gotten gleeful at times when her siblings got into trouble and it wasn't her on the receiving end of their parents wrath.

"I figured," Avery nodded her head as she forced a smile. "Maybe you'll get my room once she does kill me. Haven't you always wanted it? It's bigger than yours," she spoke back a bit sarcastically but Avery knew her ten year old sister could handle it.

She had gotten good at snark too, probably learned it from Mac because they seemed close. Always had been closer just like Avery was closer to Zac and sometimes Jessica when Jessica wasn't getting on her nerves or forcing things on her like double dates.

"Funny Avie," Zoe replied with a roll of her eyes. "But at least I'll make sure to take care of the room," she smiled sweetly but Avery could see through it and knew it was fake.

"I'm sure you will," Avery nodded her head before walking up onto the porch and heading inside. Almost glad Zoe hadn't followed her inside because when she got in trouble she really didn't want her sister to witness it. Especially as she tried to think up lies that she could tell.

Lies that she was already imagining in her head as she walked to the living room where she found her mom, seated on the couch a book in her hands. A book that she moved down when she heard footsteps and the moment her gaze landed on Avery well it wasn't a pretty one at all.

If looks could kill Avery knew she'd be dead on the spot.

"You were out all night," Diana stated using her stern mother voice. A voice Avery knew well. "Had your father and I up most of the night."

"I know," Avery spoke her voice coming out soft and she almost wished her dad was home right now but he was more than likely out doing something for one of her siblings so her mom could dish out Avery's punishment.

It was always her mom who did the punishing and seemed to run the house...more so than her dad did anyway. Even if the fans of her brother's saw it otherwise.

"You also weren't with Juniper either," Diana said and Avery had to look away from her mom. "I called her last night to see and she was surprised because you weren't even supposed to be at her house."

Avery nodded her head as she ran a hand through her hair that she hadn't had time to put up into a ponytail.

"So that begs the question, just where were you last night Avery Laurel Hanson and why did you lie about where you would be?" Diana asked and Avery hated that when she looked back up her mom was still giving her a look that could kill her.

Swallowing hard Avery chewed her lip as she again went through lies she could tell. "I was staying at a friends," she decided telling the truth part way at least. "It's a friend that you and dad don't know yet but I was helping her study," she shrugged as a lie came out again. "I should have been honest I know and I'm sorry."

After speaking Avery held her breath waiting for her mom to speak up and say something, anything.

"A friend we don't know?" Diana asked sounding a bit hurt that Avery was keeping friends from her. "I'm not sure I like the idea that my seventeen year old daughter has friends I don't know about but then again you are almost eighteen so I guess I can't complain too much about that. But I can ground you."

"You can," Avery agreed almost too readily.

"But I am not," Diana spoke and her words felt like punishment enough for Avery. "I know about your double date with Jeremy and I don't think that would be fair to him. Just know though that if you stay out all night again and lie to your father and I on where you are then you will be grounded, regardless of double dates."

"O...okay," Avery whispered her voice catching and as funny as it was the non grounding almost felt like punishment enough.

That and the knowledge that she'd have to figure out what to tell Juniper about why she had lied about going to her house and just where she had been. Because she knew Juniper would know the friend thing was a lie.

Chapter Text

February 2008

Avery who was sitting in her bedroom doing schoolwork chewed on her lip hard, doing her best to concentrate though she was having trouble. Her mind constantly going to the double date she had tonight. A date she knew she didn't want and one she was sure she'd never get out of.

Though she really wanted to get out of it. The party with her friends sounding more appealing as she thought of it, even if she wasn't much of a party person at all.

But if it got her out of her date then she'd go and have the time of her life. Sadly Avery knew it wouldn't work because she'd never get out of this date, the fear of making Jessica upset enough to make her scared to even try. She knew what Jessica was like upset and there was no way she wanted to make her mad.

It felt at times that maybe Jessica could be worse than her mom but it was more than likely learned behavior. Learned from doing everything she did for her brothers and sometimes Avery wished she were a better sister and did more at 3CG but it just wasn't something that appealed to her.

It was rather boring and she was sure if she had to be near her brothers twenty-four seven that she'd go crazy because while she loved them they all three got on her nerves, especially Isaac who at times just seemed too overbearing in being a big brother.

Almost like he wanted to be their dad too as well as their brother and Avery already had one dad, she didn't need another one in Isaac.

Then again maybe it was just because her and Isaac were both Scorpio's that they clashed so easily personality wise, while she tended to get on better with Taylor and Zac but Taylor at times was just a mystery to her. With his ever growing family and his sketchy hipster friends in California and other places.

So maybe that was why she found it easier to turn to Zac but even now that seemed impossible to do and there was just no way she could tell Zoe or Mac her problems. They were both too young to understand and give good insight.

In the end Avery was truly alone or so it felt like it and she'd just suffer through her date and the rest of her life feeling trapped and like one day her family would find out that maybe she wasn't entirely straight and they'd all just disown her.

"Knock knock," an entirely to chipper voice sounded from Avery's door, bringing her out of her thoughts and she smiled softly when she saw Juniper standing in her doorway. "I come bearing coffee," she smiled holding two Starbucks drinks in her hand. "I know you can never turn down coffee regardless of the time."

"You have that right," Avery laughed as she closed her schoolbook, giving up on her work for right now. It was all useless anyway when her mind wasn't all there. "Surprised you aren't in classes though."

Juniper shrugged as she walked into Avery's room, the door shutting behind her. "Friday's are the day I have classes late," she smiled as she sat on Avery's bed, handing one of the cups to her and Avery took it almost gratefully as if it was a lifesaver.

"So what did I do to have the honor of seeing your presence today?" Avery questioned though a part of her had a feeling exactly what she had done and she was about to dread the conversation to come.

"You lied to your mom the other day and said you were at my place," Juniper answered confirming what Avery suspected.

Taking a drink of her coffee to delay from the conversation, Avery winced as it burned her tongue some but maybe in some weird way she deserved it. Deserved all the pain from the secrets and lies that she was keeping from everyone.

Lies that were slowly but surely suffocating her.

"I did," Avery nodded her head. "I already got in trouble with her for that."

"So then why did you do it?" Juniper inquired after taking a sip of her own coffee. "Why lie about where you went and where exactly did you go?"

Chewing on her lip, Avery looked down at her coffee cup almost wishing she was invisible or could hide right now. There was no way she could be honest even if she knew some honesty would be good right now.

"Because I knew my mom wouldn't like where I did go," Avery finally spoke up before taking another drink of her coffee which again burned her tongue. "I was hanging out with someone who I'm sort of messing around with and they aren't Jeremy."

When Avery looked back up at Juniper the look on the blonde's face was almost comical. Her eyes all big and wide like she couldn't believe what Avery had said and maybe she couldn't. Avery was by most standards someone who others considered sweet and maybe at times easily manipulated by people who were close to her.

"You're cheating on Jeremy already?" Juniper asked clear shock in her tone. "Really Ave?"

Avery nodded her head again this time more sheepishly than before. "Yeah I'm cheating on Jeremy already. I know I'm a horrible girlfriend but I didn't feel anything when he kissed me on our first date."

Juniper fell silent after Avery's admission. A silence that created a weird sort of tension in Avery's room, one in which Avery didn't like but also one she had brought on herself.

Avery could at least admit that. That she had brought on the tension by admitting to the fact that she had cheated on Jeremy. A boy who was a long time family friend and was close to Mac. Though Juniper nor Cordelia liked him for a ton of reasons.

"I can't say I'm surprised really," Juniper stated as she shook her head. "I mean I told you just last Saturday that you liked people who make you comfortable. People like Jeremy so of course you'd feel nothing when he kissed you. That and I also still think you're a lesbian."

Forcing a laugh Avery took another drink of her coffee, "I'm not a lesbian," she denied though the words almost made her throat burn to say just like the coffee had made her tongue burn.

Which Avery was sure why the words made her throat burn. She knew that maybe she was a lesbian or maybe she was just bisexual.

"You're so a lesbian Avery," Juniper smirked with a tiny wink. "But tell me about the guy you're cheating on Jeremy with?"

Avery rolled her eyes at Juniper but felt a whole bundle of nerves form in her stomach at her friend's next question. "He's someone I met recently. A bit older than me..he'll be twenty-one soon," she shrugged after seeing the judging look that Juniper was giving her. "He gets me probably better than I get myself and he makes me feel like my skin is on fire every time we're together and he touches me. I'm pretty sure I could get lost in his blue eyes too especially when they look almost green after we've gotten done having sex," she blushed at that admission but it was true.

Avery had noticed that last night about Paisley after Paisley had went down on her a second time last night. That after they had gotten done and were cuddling that Paisley's eyes almost looked green and that she could get lost in how they had changed colors easily.

"He takes amazing photos, they are all around his room and I kind of maybe want to be his muse someday. He's already mine even if I haven't drawn him yet," she admitted feeling her voice going all soft once a realization hit her. "God I sound like such a lovesick idiot."

Juniper laughed as she reached her hand out and let it rest on Avery's back, "Yeah, you kind of do which means you should probably end this relationship with Jeremy before you really hurt him."

"I know," Avery stated feeling guilty. "But it's complicated. I can't hurt him because he's a good guy and he seems to really love me, though I know cheating on him is going to hurt him too if he finds out."

"No kidding," Juniper sighed before rubbing Avery's back.

Avery closed her eyes tightly though she did like the comfort Juniper was giving her, "I'll do it in March after I go with my brothers to Austin to help watch the babies while they perform at SXSW," she spoke knowing the trip had been planned for months now just like Avery going to help had been planned.

Even though their whole family minus Kate who had decided to stay in Tulsa thanks to being pregnant had decided to tag along just last month. Mainly so they could see some family friends who lived in Texas and Jeremy now too was slated to go.

Something that they had decided on when they had changed their relationship to boyfriend and girlfriend status. It was agreed upon that somehow during that weekend they'd have sex and lose their virginity to each other and maybe Avery selfishly wanted that before breaking Jeremy's heart.

Just to see if she felt anything while having sex with him. Just to know if she could like anything to do with men because maybe it was just kissing with Jeremy.

Even if she had realized that she now had feelings for Paisley....feelings that weren't platonic at all.

"Good luck then," Juniper told her before standing from her bed. "Now I have to go and get to my classes. Then I'm going to enjoy the weekend by going out to party with Calliope and some other friends," she smiled and Avery had to bite her tongue from admitting that she knew the other friends were Paisley and Cordelia.

"A party?" Avery questioned playing dumb as Juniper walked to her bedroom door.

"Just going to some themed dance party at that gay club downtown," Juniper answered with a smile. "Figured you wouldn't like it since you don't do parties. Got be the good girl even if you are cheating on your boyfriend."

Avery nodded her head again feeling guilty as Juniper reminded her of her cheating. "Yeah, yeah," she stated before watching Juniper open the door and the moment the door was open Juniper paused seeing Zoe standing at Avery's door.

"Oh hey Zo-bug," Juniper stated with a sweet tone because somehow Juniper loved Zoe. Probably because Zoe and her bonded over fashion. "Almost didn't see you standing there," she said before moving and heading away leaving just Zoe and Avery alone and once they were Avery gave Zoe a death glare.

"How long were you standing there you little menace?" Avery asked as she put her half empty coffee cup on her nightstand before standing. "Because I know you, you were probably eavesdropping."

Zoe gave Avery an innocent look as she batted her eyelashes, "I wasn't eavesdropping," she spoke but Avery had a feeling she was lying. "I was just sent by Jessie to remind you that you need to be getting ready for your date soon," she explained with a smile on her face still trying to act innocent.

Though Avery still felt she was lying.

"Yeah well you told me now leave," Avery said clearly annoyed as she shut the door on Zoe. A part of her not wanting to get ready for the date but knowing she had too.

Even if she was dreading it and even if her schoolwork wasn't done yet. She'd just have to finish her schoolwork tomorrow.

Chapter Text

February 2008

Sitting beside Jeremy in the booth of the restaurant they were at, Avery turned to look at him apprehensively. Both barely touching the food they had ordered or even talking and it had to be apparent to Jeremy that this wasn't okay or normal.

That two people who were dating should have a lot to talk about. After all Jessica and Joe had been talking non stop barely even noticing the existence of the siblings that they had basically made to come along on this date and it was a tad bit awkward.

But a painful reminder of what she and Jeremy weren't. They weren't a couple who could talk much on dates nor were they a couple who even clearly knew what to do well on dates which wasn't okay especially if they were to keep dating.

Though maybe Avery was the source of everything, maybe it was just her who couldn't talk and Jeremy was just waiting forever for her to open her mouth. A task which was hard to do much like eating because what she did eat made her feel sick because of her nerves and her literal anxiety over this whole thing.

"You're nervous," Jeremy stated keeping his voice low, probably not to ruin whatever conversation Jessica and Joe were having and hopefully also not to let them in on Avery's problems.

Problems that Avery knew Jessica may not like and probably would take out on her like she had Avery ruining her first date with Jeremy.

"I'm not nervous," Avery lied a tiny little laugh coming out as she tried to act all shy and girly. An act just like most things with Jeremy were nowadays.

Jeremy only gave her a frown at that, "Why are you lying to me for Avie, it's written on your face as plain as day," he told her and Avery felt her cheeks getting hot. Knowing she was blushing because she felt like Jeremy was scolding her for lying.

Avery took several deep breaths before shaking her head, "I just....I'm sorry," she apologized before moving from her seat and heading outside so that she could breath fresh air because once again she felt like she had been suffocating.

Though Avery knew her coming out here like she had would probably make Jessica mad but she didn't care. She just needed the air before she had a panic attack again like she had with Paisley when she had been afraid Calliope would out her to Juniper.

Something Avery was still afraid of but something Calliope hadn't seemed to do yet. So maybe then she had panicked for nothing but now it seemed warranted. She just couldn't do this dating thing with Jeremy, couldn't pretend to be something she wasn't which was in love with him truly. Not like he deserved.

"Avie," Jeremy's voice sounded and Avery turned seeing that Jeremy followed her outside. "Why are you nervous? Something's been off since I kissed you on our first date and I'm not an idiot. I want the truth now."

Looking away from Jeremy, Avery frowned as she felt tears coming to her eyes though she tried her best to keep them from coming out.

"I'm not in love with you Jeremy," Avery sighed deciding to just be honest and get to the point. "I realized that when you kissed me and I thought of someone else."

Jeremy instead of looking sad after her confession gave a small smile, "Thank god," he spoke sounding clearly relieved which made Avery look at him curiously. "I've been in the same boat for days but didn't want to say because I was afraid of hurting you."

"Wait what?!" Avery exclaimed feeling a bit shocked by Jeremy's revelation of feeling the same way. "You were thinking of another girl when we kissed?"

Shaking his head Jeremy kept his smile, "A boy. I was thinking of a boy. I'm gay Avery and I was so afraid to tell you."

Listening to him Avery just fell silent, again being taken aback at his words because they were not what she had been expecting. That he was gay. No maybe about it but gay plain and simple, especially when she knew he too came from a conservative christian family.

His dad was a fucking preacher so that had to be big for him to be so open with her and so sure that he was indeed gay.

"I wasn't thinking of another boy," Avery finally broke the silence she had created. "I was thinking of Cordelia," she confessed as her cheeks once again got hot finally admitting this out loud to someone she knew and not some stranger. "I think I...I might like girls."

"Might?" Jeremy asked as if he didn't believe her and Avery really was sure that she must have lesbian for sure stamped on her forehead.

Looking down she shrugged, "I do like girls," she sighed finally saying what she knew and what was true. "I like girls a lot more than I like boys."

"Yeah I figured as much," Jeremy smiled as he nudged her shoulder playfully. "You just have this thing about you."

"So I have lesbian stamped on my forehead?" Avery asked with a raised eyebrow feeling tons better now that the truth was out between her and Jeremy. Even some truths she had no clue had existed until tonight.

"Yeah it's right here," Jeremy teased her as he pointed to a spot on her forehead and Avery laughed as she pushed his hand away.

Falling silent again Avery looked down at the sidewalk. Knowing she still didn't want to go back inside with Jessica and Joe. Not wanting to feel weird around the actual in love straight couple and a part of her almost felt like Jeremy didn't want that either.

"So how about ditching this place?" Avery asked as she looked back up at Jeremy. "My friends are at some gay club for a theme night and maybe we can go?"

Jeremy looked conflicted as he looked back into the restaurant where Jessica and Joe still were, "And what about them?"

"Send them a text saying we wanted to ditch and have our own date," Avery told him with a smile. "I'll call a cab while you do," she said reaching for her cell phone only after Jeremy nodded his head saying he'd go along with that lie.

Which maybe it wasn't so much a lie. It was a friend date between two not straight people. Two people who were no longer dating which made her happy but coming up with an excuse for why they broke up would be hard. Especially with her family but maybe they could come up with something together, later at some point.

"You didn't have to pay for the cab ride," Avery told Jeremy as they walked into the club where apparently it was eighties night or so the sign had said anyway. "I could have."

Jeremy shrugged as he reached for Avery's hand, "Next time we take a cab together you can pay," he smiled and Avery returned it as she squeezed his hand. Feeling a bit nervous as they both came to a stop before they reached the crowd of people on the dance floor, dancing to the eighties music which was blaring.

Avery feeling butterflies in her stomach because this was huge of her being in a gay club. But she had Jeremy by her side and it made her feel a little better and as she glanced over at him she could see he looked just as nervous and she figured this was probably his first time being in a place like this too.

A part of her wondering if he had ever even been with a boy or there was just one that he liked and he hadn't experimented like she had.

Spotting her friends in the crowd, Avery slowly let go of Jeremy's hand, "I'm going to go to my friends," she told him over the music before finally moving to go to her friends. The butterflies in her stomach getting a bit worse as she did so because again this was huge for her.

Being here in a gay club and going to her friends. Friends who would more than likely realize why she was here. That Avery indeed identified as not so straight. That maybe she was like they always suspected a lesbian.

"Avery?!" Cordelia questioned once Avery was in sight of where Juniper, Cordelia and Calliope were at. The only missing piece of the group who was supposed to be here but wasn't was Paisley and Avery had to admit she was a bit disappointed at that.

"Hey," Avery smiled as she reached where her friends were, still feeling nervous and like maybe she was going to be sick. A part of her so unsure lately why she kept having so much anxiety when she never had before. Not even when her paintings had been put up in galleries and she had to face a ton of people.

"Hey is all you say?" Juniper spoke with a raised eyebrow, clearly looking confused. "No explanation on why the I'm straight Avery Hanson is standing here and not out on her date with Jeremy."

Avery blushed as she gave her friends a little sheepish smile, "Maybe I'm not that straight," she admitted with a shrug. "Jeremy isn't either and we both admitted that to each other tonight and decided to ditch the date."

After her revelation to her friends Avery stood there holding her breath as she felt worried for how they would react. Even if all of them were lesbians too maybe they'd hate her for finally admitting it after so many denials.

"Well it's about time you admitted that," Calliope spoke first as she reached out and pulled Avery into a hug. "I was really hating having to keep from Junie that I knew the truth."

Before Avery could respond to that, Juniper who had heard what Calliope said spoke up, "What truth where you keeping from me?" she asked and when Calliope pulled away from hugging Avery, Avery saw how confused both Juniper and Cordelia looked as they looked in between both Calliope and Avery.

"That Avery was a lesbian. She probably knows this for sure because she's been hooking up with Paisley," Calliope smiled at her own words. "Found out about it Wednesday night actually when I was at Paisley's apartment and Avery showed up after Paisley had got done telling me she was kicking me out because she had someone coming over for some x-rated fun. Her words not mine. Someone who she had made it clear that she'd hooked up with before."

Juniper who had remained silent finally looked less confused now and almost looked like she had pieced all the puzzle pieces together and maybe she had.

After all she had just talked to Avery this afternoon and Avery had admitted to cheating on Jeremy with someone and being in love maybe with who she had cheated with. Though of course she had used male pronouns but Juniper wasn't stupid and probably knew she had been lying or trying to hide things now.

But since the truth was out she had added everything up and realized Avery had meant Paisley this afternoon.

"So Paisley is who you told Juniper about this afternoon?" Cordelia asked a tone of hurt or maybe bitterness apparent in her voice and her words shocked Avery because she hadn't expected Juniper to tell Cordelia but maybe she should have.

All three girls told each other everything and of course Juniper would have ran to Cordelia with this information on Avery. It was just how things were.

Avery nodded her head in response, "Yeah," she admitted and after she spoke she stood there now confused herself as Cordelia rushed off in a huff.

Apparently upset over this information though Avery wasn't sure why she would be. It wasn't like they were dating or that Avery had cheated on her.

Looking at Juniper, Avery was sure she looked as confused as both Juniper and Cordelia had earlier, "Did I miss something?" she asked because she really felt like she had missed something crucial.

Juniper hesitated slightly before answering Avery, "She'll be fine," she spoke though even her words didn't sound so sure. "I'm going to go talk to her and you stay here with Cal," she smiled though it didn't reach her eyes and after she walked away Avery looked over at Calliope feeling a bit uncomfortable now.

"Where is Paisley at?" Avery questioned deciding to do something, anything to try and forget how uncomfortable things were and yet all she could think of doing was asking about Paisley. The girl who had made things uncomfortable even without being present. "She just mentioned before I left her Thursday that she'd be here."

Calliope just grinned at Avery's words, "She's here," she nodded her head before pointing towards a spot on the dance floor and Avery followed it. Her gaze landing on Paisley who to her resembled Joan Jett just a bit, especially with the tight fitting leather jacket she had on tonight.

"Who's the redhead she is dancing with?" Avery asked hating the jealousy that was very apparent in her words. A jealousy she didn't like because she wasn't even supposed to have feelings for Paisley.

Paisley had warned her their first time together not to fall in love and she had agreed not too. Mainly because of her crush on Cordelia but now things were complicated and maybe she was falling for Paisley...or had already fallen face first into what was probably trouble.

"Ellery Braxton," Calliope answered with a roll of her eyes. "Her ex-girlfriend who still wants her back and if Paisley takes her back she is a dumbass because Ellery is such a toxic bitch."

Avery paused at Calliope's answer, "Ex-girlfriend?" she inquired again knowing she sounded jealous. "But Paisley said she doesn't do love."

Calliope laughed out loud, almost like the thought of that was funny to her. "Pai likes to tell herself she doesn't after all the shit Ellery has put her through but she still does. She does love and she loves so hard when she does. She just needs someone who will treat her like she deserves and not like some worthless person who does everything wrong like Ellery did."

Staying silent Avery heaved a sigh knowing that she could treat Paisley better than that but a part of her wasn't sure if Paisley even wanted that or what that even meant for her crush on Cordelia.

Though Cordelia was pissed at her for some reason so maybe things with Cordelia friendship wise would be done too and her crush there wouldn't matter or maybe Paisley was right and she only wanted Cordelia because Cordelia made her feel safe.

But no, that couldn't be it. Never not with Cordelia anyway.

Coming out of her thoughts when she felt two arms slide around her neck, Avery took her eyes off Paisley and Ellery, a smile working its way onto her face when she saw Cordelia who despite looking like she had been crying not too long ago was now smiling.

"You still mad at me?" Avery asked as she leaned into her friend. "Because if so I'm sorry for whatever I may have done."

Cordelia shook her head as she kissed Avery's forehead softly and Avery's eyes fell shut even if there was no burning sensation like the kind that Paisley caused her to have. "No, I'm fine now," Cordelia answered low enough for only Avery to hear. "And I'm so proud that you are being honest with yourself."

"I'm proud too," Avery smiled as she opened her eyes to look at Cordelia again. "Feels like a weight has been taken off sort of," she spoke knowing that at least for now she was partly out and honest with herself but it would be some time before she could tell her parents.

"It always does when one is honest with themselves," Cordelia nodded her head looking as if now she was the one carrying a weight and Avery wished desperately that Cordelia would tell her what it was but she doubted Cordelia was ready for that.

Not yet anyway and well she'd wait just like she'd wait for Cordelia to eventually tell her about the person she liked who was unavailable.

Smiling Avery let her hands go up to rest on Cordelia's arms, "So how about dancing with me on the dance floor Cordy?" she asked as her smile grew. "I mean I came here to have fun not be all mopey and depressing. Which we're being."

Cordelia laughed finally before giving Avery a tiny nod, "Let's go dancing then Avie," she said as she pulled away though her hand soon grabbed onto Avery's and she lead the way out onto the dance floor.

Avery letting her lead the way and as they began dancing to the Joan Jett song playing. A cover of the song Crimson and Clover, Avery couldn't help but let her eyes drift over to Paisley who was still dancing with Ellery and a part of her wished they could just swap dance partners.

That Cordelia and Ellery were dancing together so that she could be the one dancing with Paisley. Though that thought left Avery unsettled because she knew what it meant. That she was jealous over Paisley dancing with her ex and really she'd be jealous over Paisley dancing with anyone but she wasn't at all jealous of Cordelia dancing with anyone.

Even if that person was a hypothetical ex of Cordelia's which maybe that meant her feelings for Paisley ran deeper than any feelings she had for her best friend.

Blushing slightly when Paisley who probably felt her gaze looked over, giving a brief look of confusion before offering Avery a tiny wink. Avery couldn't help the smirk she gave her before looking away as her blush grew, not sure she had liked being caught staring but she had liked the wink that Paisley gave after her look of confusion had passed.

Sitting at the bar awhile later, Avery sipped on a diet coke with lots of ice as she watched Cordelia dancing with some brunette who in ways Avery thought resembled her, which was crazy. Had to just be her seeing things though like she suspected it hadn't made her jealous.

Not in the ways that Paisley dancing with Ellery had made her jealous anyway which Avery knew was wrong. She shouldn't even care that much, had promised not to fall in love with Paisley yet here she was hopelessly falling or maybe already had.

"Hanson," Paisley's voice sounded from beside her and Avery turned to look at her. "Didn't expect to see you here. Figured the little rebel you had been with me would have been your undoing and gotten you grounded."

Avery laughed softly as she took another sip of her diet coke, "I meant to text you but it slipped my mind. My mom didn't ground me so I could go on the date with Jeremy," she muttered with a roll of her eyes. "But the date kind of went bust when Jeremy and I both told each other we're gay."

Paisley laughed loudly at that, her laugh enough to make Avery smile all wide and she was sure she may have looked pathetic if she could see herself.

"Cal filled me in after I got done dancing with Elle," Paisley nodded her head, Avery feeling a knot of jealousy at how she used a nickname for Ellery. "So I know you're officially out and no longer lying to your friends or yourself. Just like I know everyone knows we have been having sex."

"Cal's the one that outed that," Avery spoke as she looked away though she kept her smile. "So blame her for everyone knowing the business of your sex life."

"Oh I do," Paisley nodded her head. "But it's just Cal being Cal and I'm used to it."

Avery paused because in ways she understood, Juniper and Cordelia both being like that too. Especially since Juniper had went to Cordelia and told her about the conversation she had, had with Avery this afternoon. It was almost like nothing could ever stay truly secret which scared Avery.

Because if that was the case then eventually somehow her family would find out about her sexuality.

"So you still love Ellery?" Avery asked though it came out more like a statement which made Avery cringe because she hated being so blunt. "Cal told me about her."

Paisley smirked at Avery's words a look of something that Avery couldn't place on her face. "You jealous if I still love my ex?"

"No," Avery denied way too fast which seemed to make Paisley smile more.

"You are," Paisley stated as she leaned in closer to Avery. Close enough that Avery could smell the perfume Paisley wore, something Avery hadn't known her to do until tonight. "Just like you were jealous over the possibility of me sleeping with Cordelia too," she whispered reminding Avery of their conversation Wednesday night. "You really shouldn't be jealous of either of them though. They're not the ones I want to have sex with."

Feeling her breath catch at Paisley's words, Avery locked eyes with her, "Then who's the one you want to have sex with?" she asked feeling like she already knew the answer to that.

Something that was confirmed when Paisley leaned over and kissed her on the lips softly. Avery swearing that just before their lips had touched she had seen a camera flash go off, a thing she was used to seeing and spotting anywhere after years of dealing with her brothers fans.

But she didn't ponder on that thought for long as Paisley's hand rested on the exposed skin of her thigh that the dress she had on tonight didn't cover. Goosebumps forming when her hand went higher up the dress and Avery had a sinking feeling that even though she came here with Jeremy she wouldn't be leaving with him.

She'd be leaving with the girl who she was kissing. Someone who was going to get her in trouble with her parents again one way or another.

Chapter Text

February 2008

Avery moaned out softly as she felt Paisley push her against the wall once they had made it inside Paisley's house. A place they had came too after leaving the club together, though this time before coming to her house Avery had somehow conned her way into getting to stay out late.

Had Juniper call her mom and say that she had came to her place after her date with Jeremy and asked if she could stay over so they could gossip about her date and of course her mom agreed. Had said yes that she could because of course her mom was okay as long as she was doing things that were straight and normal.

If only her mom knew that right now she was pushed up against the wall of a girl who she had, had sex with three times and who she'd once again have sex with. Had been wanting ever since they had started kissing at the club, needed her in ways she was sure she hadn't needed anyone and maybe this was how addicts felt with drugs and maybe Paisley was her drug.

Which if she were her drug then Avery would willingly overdose on her any day of the week. It'd be such a way to go too. Over an attractive girl who she liked having sex with, who she might have loved.

Tilting her head to the side as Paisley's lips moved down from Avery's own, making their way to her neck, Avery closed her eyes shut tightly. Her grip on Paisley's leather jacket getting tighter as her moans got a bit louder, especially when Paisley bit into her skin slightly.

Avery liking being bit, liking the pain just a bit.

"Want to make you orgasm while you wear this little pretty dress," Paisley spoke her breath hitting Avery's skin as she did so, causing goosebumps to form. "Then after I'm going to make you orgasm while completely naked," she spoke and god the images of Paisley making her orgasm.

The images of Paisley between her legs was enough to cause another moan as well as make Avery wetter than what she already was.

"Does that sound good to you Avery?" Paisley asked her voice going low before she bit into Avery's skin again. "You want me to make you orgasm twice in one night?"

Avery who had been rendered speechless by the words and images playing around in her brain only nodded her head. Not sure if she trusted herself to speak but if she could speak she would have said, fuck yes that was what she wanted.

She wanted anything and everything Paisley would do to her. Which could be a good thing or a bad thing but right now she considered it good. Really fucking good because in the end she'd at least get an orgasm out of it and who didn't like getting orgasms?

Avery was sure most people wouldn't mind getting an orgasm.

"Words Avery," Paisley tsked as she pulled away, leaving Avery feeling almost empty in a way without Paisley's lips on her. "Use them and tell me if you want me to make you orgasm twice in one night."

"Yes," Avery spoke surprised that she even could. "I want you to make me orgasm twice or as many times as you see fit."

Paisley smirked some as she eyed Avery for a bit, "Well aren't you just the little sex machine tonight Hanson."

"I'm a sex machine anytime I'm with you," Avery told her teasingly before reaching out to pull Paisley into a rough kiss. "Now make me orgasm while wearing this dress," she spoke in between kisses.

A part of her already aching for the feel of Paisley's lips on her pussy. Her tongue and fingers exploring places that she was slowly learning and figuring out how to please Avery each time they were together. Someone who was beginning to know just how and what made Avery get off.

Things that before Paisley only Avery had really known. Though it wasn't like she had masturbated often but she was sure now that was going to change. With the way she was beginning to have sex regularly now.

"Demanding," Paisley smiled as she pulled away from the kiss. "I like it when it comes from you," she spoke and the way a blush coated her cheeks Avery wondered if anyone had been that way with Paisley before or if she were the first.

Which it seemed likely she could have been because Calliope had said Ellery was toxic and usually from what Avery knew toxic people were demanding and tried to control things.

Sadly it was almost how her mom was to a degree with each child but in ways that none of the kids would ever call her out on shit. Because her mom was able to make it seem like everything she did was out of love for her children, in just wanting to see them happy.

Whereas their dad was more laid back, more into wanting them to have some freedoms in doing what they wanted.

Which with parents like that it was always easier to see which kid took after each parent and Avery liked to believe that maybe she was more like her father. But now really wasn't the time to think of her parents. Not when Paisley was dropping to her knees and pushing Avery's dress up before pushing her panties down enough and once they were a certain ways down Avery stepped out of them.

Her hands going to hold onto the end of her dress so that Paisley could have an easier access to her pussy, which was already wet. Showing just how much Avery wanted, needed what was about to happen. How much she yearned for Paisley right now.

Biting her lip when Paisley's mouth finally connected with the place that Avery had wanted it Avery couldn't help but look down. Watching as Paisley began to use her tongue and lick Avery slowly. Making Avery's knees a bit weak as well as making her hope that she was able to stay standing against the wall.

"Feels so good," Avery stated when Paisley's tongue slowly did circles around her clit. "Your tongue feels so good."

At her words Paisley only looked up with a devious glint in her blue eyes. A glint that Avery found oddly sexy when she probably wouldn't find that same glint sexy on anyone else.

Before she could open her mouth to say anything else though, Paisley moved her tongue faster, one of her fingers slowly sliding inside of Avery and again Avery was weak in the knees. This time her knees almost feeling like jello and yet somehow she was still standing upright.

Hadn't collapsed to the floor yet. But of course it was still a possibility, Avery knew that much.

Moving one of her hands from the end of her dress, Avery let her hand go down until it tangled in Paisley's short hair. Tugging on it slightly when Paisley moved her finger in and out of Avery a bit faster, her tongue slowing down as she did so.

Avery knowing that Paisley was teasing her and despite wanting to call her out on the teasing Avery just stayed silent. Actually liking it because it was delaying her orgasm some. Letting her enjoy the feelings that Paisley was giving her with just her tongue and her finger.

Something that Avery wanted to return for her later, especially since Paisley wanted to make her orgasm more than once tonight. It was only fair to eventually repay that favor and maybe up the ante. Make Paisley orgasm three times instead of two because fucking hell did she deserve that.

Closing her eyes again when Paisley added a second finger inside of her all Avery could do then was moan and tug on Paisley's hair. Her breathing beginning to get faster finally especially when Paisley stopped teasing her. Moving her tongue at a normal pace as well as paying more attention to her clit.

Showing that her intentions were clear now. She was truly on her mission to get that first orgasm from Avery as if it was some hidden treasure and Avery was close to giving her that treasure. Close to orgasming and again she prayed that when she did reach her end that she was able to stay standing because her legs felt even more like jello than they had before.

Shutting her eyes tighter Avery bit down on her lip harder as she finally reached her orgasm. Her head eventually falling back farther against the wall as the hand that was in Paisley's hair pulled on it harder. Though Paisley must not have minded as she moaned against Avery not long after.

The action causing Avery to shiver in a good way. Liking how the vibrations had felt against her.

Letting her hand move away from Paisley's hair, Avery opened her eyes when Paisley stood back up and as Paisley leaned in to kiss her again Avery let her other hand move from her dress.

Her arms slowly going around Paisley's waist as her tongue found it's way into the other girl's mouth. A tiny thrill coming from the fact that when their tongues brushed she could taste herself faintly on Paisley's tongue.

Pulling away from the kiss after a few minutes Avery smirked and maybe now it was her who probably had a devious glint in her eyes. "Didn't you promise to make me orgasm twice?" she questioned as she batted her eyelashes some. "The second time without this on?" she added on before looking down at her dress which she reached down and slowly pushed up and off herself.

"I think it's time you get on that now there Chambers," she finished with a wink as she locked eyes with Paisley briefly before finding a way to move from the wall, beginning a trek down to Paisley's room.

The smirk on her face growing when she heard Paisley following.

"Pretty sure I like this side of you tonight," Paisley spoke from where she was walking behind Avery. "Being all demanding and taking what you want."

"Kind of fun to be demanding," Avery shrugged her shoulders knowing it was different than how she usually was. That being in charge tonight also made her feel free just like coming out to her friends had. "I'm not usually like this with anything," she said once they made it to Paisley's room and she stepped inside, turning the light on before turning to face Paisley and when she did she couldn't help it if the smirk grew.

Because there in front of her was a naked Paisley, who had obviously stripped out of her clothes on the walk to her bedroom.

Paisley raised an eyebrow as she stepped a bit closer to Avery, "Like what you see there babe?" she whispered softly as her arms went around Avery's neck and Avery did her best not to show that being called babe had made her a tiny bit giddy.

That maybe she liked the nickname babe as much as she liked the nickname Hanson from Paisley.

"I think you know the answer to that one," Avery replied back her voice just as low as Paisley's, her hands going around her waist. "I might just indeed like what I see," she teased.

"Might?" Paisley questioned with a tiny laugh. "In that case maybe we should both get dressed."

"Asshole," Avery laughed before leaning in to peck Paisley's lips. "Of course I like what I see or I wouldn't keep on having sex with you," she spoke feeling a blush coating her cheeks. "Wouldn't keep coming back for more."

"You're giving me a huge ego there babe," Paisley smirked before leaning in to kiss Avery again and this time it was no peck but it was soft. Soft enough that Avery even wondered if it was happening but clearly it was.

They were kissing and Paisley somehow found a way to move Avery down on her bed, falling over her and it was when that happened that the kiss got a little rougher, a little more heated.

Avery letting out a soft groan as one of Paisley's hands moved between them, her index finger slowly resting on Avery's still wet and very sensitive flesh. Her body wanting the touch and a bit of friction from the other girl, wanting anything so that she could get off again.

Biting down on Paisley's bottom lip as she finally slipped her finger inside of Avery, Avery letting her eyes flutter shut as enjoyed the feeling. Letting her hips slowly move up as she began to match the pace of Paisley's finger. Though it still wasn't enough for Avery.

She wanted more either another finger or for Paisley to move her finger faster, anything just because she craved more. Craved more closeness and craved more contact.

Again feeling like a drug addict in ways except her drug was a person. A very hot person who made her feel good in several different ways.

Feeling Paisley's lips move down to her neck, Avery now bit down on her own lip to keep from moaning loudly as Paisley began to suck harshly on the skin at her neck. Knowing that tomorrow she'd probably have a mark there and she'd have to find a way to hide it.

Because even if her parents thought she was dating Jeremy they really wouldn't like the thought of her having a hickey on her neck. Mainly because ever since Taylor had gotten Natalie pregnant they almost seemed to have gotten stricter on how they handled their kids and dating or at least their mom had.

"Pai," Avery whined out without even meaning too when Paisley's finger slipped out of her. "Don't tease me now," she begged hating that now she wasn't in control as much. Was the one being controlled.

"Not teasing you," Paisley muttered as she moved away to look down at Avery. "Just wanna try something new," she spoke and her words made Avery's eyebrows lift up questioningly, especially when Paisley maneuvered herself between Avery's legs until their pussies were lined up pretty well.

But before she could say anything to question her Avery found herself letting out a moan when Paisley's pussy brushed across hers. Her body instantly liking the feeling of it. Liking how good it felt and also liked knowing just how turned on Paisley was too now.

Liked knowing just how much Paisley wanted her too. That the wanting went both was just the feelings Avery wasn't sure about.

She wasn't sure that Paisley had feelings for her or ever would. Especially if maybe she still wanted her ex.

"You like that?" Paisley asked before doing the same thing again and again Avery moaned. This time though her moan was louder than last time.

"Y....yeah," Avery answered her breathing causing her words to get caught some. "I do," she said before letting her hips move up and this time it was Paisley who moaned out, her head falling back slightly as her hands which were now resting on Avery's hips increased their grip on her.

The nails slowly going into Avery's skin some and she'd probably have indentations for a bit after this was over.

When Paisley moved her head up though and leaned down to kiss Avery on the lips again, Avery let her eyes fall shut as she and Paisley began to move together now. Both letting out moans every now and then but other than their moans and the sound of their skin meeting the room had no other noise.

At least not until Avery reached her second orgasm, pulling away from the kiss long enough to mutter a few curse words out. Her toes slightly curling this time as she had what she would consider one of the best orgasms in her life so far anyway.

But even after she had orgasmed she kept her hips moving until Paisley too reached her end and once that had happened Paisley collapsed on top of her. Her head burying in Avery's neck where she repeatedly left tiny kisses on the place where Avery was sure just a short time ago Paisley had marked her skin.

"That was amazing," Avery spoke softly as she held Paisley a bit closer to her, almost afraid that if she let go she'd somehow wake up and find out this whole night had been a dream.

That somehow she was still stuck deep in the closet and not partway out of it.

"Well not to be cocky or anything but I think it's always amazing sex when I'm involved," Paisley laughed as she moved her head up, looking down at Avery. "No one's ever given me bad reviews before."

Laughing as well Avery only rolled her eyes, "Sure whatever you say," she said as she shook her head. "Obviously you're just a sex goddess."

"I am," Paisley smiled all big and wide, her eyes lighting up some. "You must have missed the memo."

"Must have," Avery smiled before moving up slightly to peck Paisley's lips. "Guess I know now though."

"Yep, you do," Paisley told her before slowly moving off her and after she had things fell silent between them. Avery getting lost in her own thoughts.

Thoughts that scared her in ways but also thoughts that she wanted answers on. Needed answers on before she got deeper into her feelings for Paisley.

"Is this still a no strings thing?" Avery questioned as she broke the silence, turning some so that she was on her side, propped up by her elbow. "I know the night this all started you said it was just no strings sex Pai but I just I need to know if it's still that or what this is between us."

Paisley seemed to pause at her words as if she was thinking of a way to answer her and the whole time Avery felt on edge. Like her heart may just beat all the way out of her chest.

"I'd say we're friends with benefits," Paisley finally spoke as she looked at Avery and her words were enough that Avery was sure that now her heart had sank some. "We're friends who have sex and it's just what it is."

"So if I wanted to have sex with someone else I could?" Avery questioned hoping her bitterness at Paisley's answer didn't show.

Paisley again paused before answering, "Yeah," she nodded her head though this time there was something different when she spoke. "You can have sex with other people. It's not like we're dating."

Nodding her head Avery felt her heart sink even more but this time she didn't say anything else. Instead she laid back down in bed a part of her wishing she had gotten a different answer because she knew for now she'd have to slam the brakes on her growing feelings for Paisley.

If she could at least and hopefully she could, she was good at that or so she liked to tell herself. She was a Hanson after all and they were damn stubborn and always in denial about things.

Making it home the next day, Avery who had parked her car bit her lip as she looked in her rear view mirror. Doing her best to fix her hair which she had kept down so that she could hide the hickey that she had on her neck.

Once she felt that it was hidden well enough Avery left her car, heading inside and smelling food in the air. A smell which she followed to the kitchen where she found her parents and her two younger siblings.

"Well don't you look glowing today dear sister," Mac spoke up as he spotted her first and his words made everyone turn to look at her. "Your date must have went well with Jeremy, though he was pretty silent on the phone when I talked to him this morning."

Blushing at Mac's words Avery tried to hide her smirk as she looked down fast, her mind indeed flashing to last night and how she had spent it with Paisley. How she had came out to her friends finally too but mainly of the night with Paisley.

"It went well enough," Avery shrugged her shoulders as she looked back up. "Though now I'm kind of hungry. Didn't have much of a chance to eat breakfast before I left Juniper's house," she lied and even though she was lying this time she felt a bit freer.

Knowing that now the only lies she was telling would be to her family. At least with some people she could be honest.

"Well lucky for you Dad made breakfast late," Zoe spoke as she eyed Avery who was now walking towards the table.

Avery smiled at Zoe's words as she sat across from her at the table, "Yeah, I guess it is lucky for me," she nodded her head softly before turning to look at her dad. "I just hope he didn't fix anything with meat. I'm maybe going to try to go back on that vegetarian diet again," she said mentioning something she had tried and failed at last summer.

It was something her friends were into and they had drug her into but of course she had failed. Not being able to turn down bacon because that meaty goodness was just one of her comfort foods.

Walker turned to face Avery as he chuckled some, "Sorry, I didn't get the no meat memo. I made eggs and bacon and sausage. Though I guess you can eat just the eggs."

"No, I'll take the bacon too but not the sausage," Avery smiled politely at her dad.

Diana who was standing beside Walker just eyed Avery curiously, "Mac is right Avie," she stated with a raised eyebrow. "You do seem glowing and happier. Happier than you have in days maybe weeks."

Blushing again Avery looked away from her parents, "I just...I don't know I guess I just woke up on the good side of the bed today," she answered knowing she couldn't tell her parents the real reason she was happy but it did kill her that obviously even her mom had noticed that lately something had been wrong.

"Avery's just in love," Zoe piped in as she looked at Avery, almost as if she knew a secret that no one else did. Which made Avery feel sick some because if she knew anything it was because of the conversation she had overheard with Juniper.

The one where Avery had told Juniper that she had cheated on Jeremy with another boy and now well at least Avery was partly glad that she had lied about the sex of who she had been cheating with.

"Well love is a good look on her," Diana spoke and even without looking at her Avery could hear the smile in her voice and maybe a small part of Avery felt bad for lying to her family but of course she had too because unlike her friends they just wouldn't understand or accept her.....or at least that is what she was afraid of.

Chapter Text

March 2008

Avery who had just finished doing the dishes from breakfast jumped some when she heard a knock on the door. Her eyebrow raising curiously because she wasn't sure who would be coming by this Saturday. She was sure most of her siblings knew her parents were out of town today.

Leaving both her and Jessica in charge of Zoe and Mac as they went on some day trip with their church to help clean another smaller Orthodox church an hour or two away.

Avery was half certain Kate may have went to even with being heavily pregnant, just because the church was an escape for her as well as Zac at times. Which as an escape Kate used a lot of opportunities to be dutiful and help when she could.

The same as Avery's parents though sometimes Avery swore her mom only helped just to be recognized and get attention instead of doing it out of the goodness of her own heart.

Hearing a second knock, Avery shook her head before wiping her hands in a hurry and running to get the door. Mainly because if she didn't then no one else would. Jessica had left after breakfast to go and see Joe and Zoe and Mac had headed to their den in the basement to watch movies.

When she made it to the door, she threw it open in a hurry. Pausing when she came face to face with Taylor who was standing on the porch steps.

"Tay?" Avery questioned feeling confused as to why he had knocked instead of letting himself in. It was no secret that all the siblings who had left home had keys in case they wanted to let themselves in. "You didn't have to knock," she laughed as she moved aside so that her brother could come in.

Taylor stepped inside shrugging his shoulders, "I knew you guys were here by yourselves. Didn't really want to scare you or anything," he explained as if that made all the sense in the world and maybe to Taylor it did but Avery just found it kind of dumb.

Though she'd be nice and not tell Taylor what she thought. It would spare his feelings and diva attitude and it was easier that way.

"So did you come by to get something?" Avery asked as she shut the door, watching as Taylor just stood in place, looking down at the floor as if he was nervous or something.

Taylor shook his head at Avery's question, "I actually came by to see you," he stated and his words made her have a sinking feeling.

Like whatever he had came to see her for was bad because usually none of the older brothers came to see her. If one did it was Zac but that was only because she was closer to him. So Taylor being here had to be bad.

"See me?" Avery whispered as she felt her heartbeat began to quicken. "What did I do to make you come by to see me?"

"Can we talk in the living room?" Taylor asked and his question did nothing to settle Avery's nerves. Instead she only nodded her head wordlessly, following behind as Taylor lead the way into the living room.

But once they were there Avery chose then to break her silence, "Well?" she asked as she sat down on the couch, looking up at Taylor who stayed standing and he still looked as nervous as he had earlier. "Why did you come to see me for?"

Taylor took several long breaths before reaching into the pocket of his jeans were he pulled out two folded pieces of paper. "Isaac found these pictures on a messageboard," he explained as he handed the pictures over to Avery. " know him he just wants to know if there is something you should tell us?"

"Messageboard?" Avery laughed softly as she unfolded the papers though the moment she did she tried to keep a neutral face as she saw what pictures Isaac had printed out.

It was two pictures taken exactly two weeks ago yesterday. One picture was right before Paisley had kissed her and the other was during the kiss. Though the pictures were grainy enough that it was questionable if it was her exactly but Avery knew it was her, she knew her own damn dress and of course she knew Paisley.

Just like she faintly had a memory of what she had thought was a camera flash before kissing Paisley and now she knew it had indeed been one. Some local fan had been in that bar and recognized her, taking her picture without her even knowing or realizing. Invading her privacy.

"You know the ones fans run," Taylor answered and yeah Avery knew exactly the ones. She had spent all summer last year going down the rabbit hole with Mac.

Viewing what the fans said and being creeped out that fans had pictures of her that were taken with her friends. Pictures that Cordelia and Juniper had put up on their myspace and ones fans had no issues with taking because they were public and everyone had a right to public pictures.

"Yeah I know those," Avery nodded with a sigh. "But these aren't me," she denied as she looked away from the pictures and up at Taylor. "Whoever took and posted these is lying. Why would these be me?"

"I mean girls your age do crazy things Avie," Taylor smiled though it looked fake like everyone of the smiles he gave fans. "They kiss other girls while drunk and whoever posted these said they were taken in that bar downtown. Knew the name of it and mentioned being a regular."

Shaking her head Avery felt tears welling up in her eyes but she did her best to blink a few times to keep them at bay. "Well I don't. I've never kissed a girl while drunk and I'm not the person in these pictures. The fan is clearly mistaken," she muttered out doing her best not to take her anger out on Taylor.

It wasn't Taylor she was angry at. It was herself and the fan who if she was a regular at the club had to be lesbian or bisexual and she should have known better than to take pictures of Avery in a place like that. She should have used her brain and thought that what would happen if Avery wasn't out and her family had seen these pictures like they had?

Taylor looked at her hesitantly and Avery felt like he didn't quite believe her. "I believe you," he told her those his words came out just as hesitant as he had looked. "If you say it's not you then it isn't you. I'll have someone try to get these taken down though. I know how damaging rumors like those and pictures with people who look like you can be."

Avery nodded her head knowing that of course Taylor knew what gay rumors were like. Out of all the boys in the band it was Taylor who had been plagued with gay rumors.

"Is that why Ike sent you instead of coming himself or sending Zac?" Avery asked as she watched Taylor as he turned to leave. Though her words made him stop in his tracks.

"Sort of," Taylor answered sounding as if there was more but he didn't want to say. "He just knew I had experience with stuff like this unlike him and I don't really think he even mentioned these to Zac. Probably because lately whenever he tries to talk to Zac they get into an argument."

Avery fell silent as Taylor continued talking and once he was done she just watched him leave. A part of her curious why Zac and Isaac were arguing lately as well as being curious what other experience Taylor could have with stuff like they had talked about today.

Because in Taylor's case all he had were gay rumors. Not actual evidence which confirmed or denied that.

Sighing at that thought Avery looked back down at the pictures in her hand, the tears she had been fighting off before finally coming out. A resolve settling inside of her that once she had stopped crying she'd walk upstairs and look at the messageboards she hadn't checked since this summer.

See what people were saying about the pictures of her kissing Paisley and hoping that somehow Taylor kept his word when it came to getting the pictures taken down. Feeling afraid that if he didn't somehow they'd land on her parents lap and of course her mom and dad would know it was her.

They had seen her in that dress two weeks ago and they'd know and then they'd hate her. They'd hate her for being what she was which was someone who liked girls a lot more than she liked boys.

Later that night long after her parents had returned and after everyone else had went to their own rooms for the night, Avery sat on her bed laptop on her lap as she browsed the very same messageboard she had spent hours on last summer.

Her eyes reading what was said in the post with the pictures of her and Paisley. How most posters said they had called this years ago with her. That she had just given them that kind of vibe though there was a small minority who said that maybe the person was wrong and maybe the person in the picture wasn't Avery.

But not one person had even called the original poster out for outing her. For being so cruel as to not even question that if Avery were a lesbian that maybe she wasn't out to her family yet.

Shaking her head Avery kept reading, pausing when she saw that another poster had found out who she had been kissing. Even being brazen enough to post Paisley's myspace link and against her better judgement Avery clicked on the link.

She knew Paisley had one but she hadn't ever really went looking for it and when she clicked on it she wasn't surprised to find it public, especially when it became clear she used the site for her photography more so than to connect with friends.

Smiling some as she browsed around on Paisley's myspace, Avery clicked through her pictures, stopping when she came upon a picture that had been taken of her yesterday when she had met Paisley for lunch before she had to go to work.

They had been leaving the restaurant when Paisley had said that she wanted to get a picture of Avery in the sunlight. Making a comment that she looked beautiful in it and of course Avery had let her because she couldn't say no to Paisley even if she was trying to put the brakes on her feelings for Paisley.

The caption on the picture though was the real reason she was smiling though if she were being honest with herself. Not the fact that there was a picture of her up on Paisley's photography myspace but the caption she had used. My moon in the sunlight.

Something that made sense to Avery because for the past week she had been calling Avery her moon. Saying that Avery had depths about her that she didn't know yet and that one day she did want to know but she was afraid that those depths were probably dark or something and so instead of being the sun she was the moon. She was Paisley's moon and Avery guessed in ways maybe Paisley was her sun.

The bright side to whatever dark she may have had. The one thing that helped ease her every time she panicked and she almost wished Paisley were here to ease her now ever since knowing she had been outed.

But Paisley wasn't here in Tulsa, she had left this morning and went with Cal and Juniper on a trip they were making to North Carolina to look for apartments.

Cal had gotten a transfer from Tulsa Community College to a college in North Carolina, somewhere where she planned to go next fall and Juniper had already decided to go with her. A decision that maybe Avery found a bit hasty but she wasn't going to tell her friend that.

It was Juniper's business what she did and if she wanted to move to North Carolina to be with her girlfriend then she had that right even if it probably was going to end badly. After all they hadn't even really been dating a year and what happened if it failed after the move?

Juniper had no friends in North Carolina and she'd just be stuck until she could find a way back to Tulsa.

Coming out of her thoughts as she heard her phone which was on her nightstand vibrate, Avery quickly closed out of the sites she was on before reaching for her phone and hitting talk. Having set her phone to vibrate so if it rang while she was sleeping it wouldn't wake her.

"Hello?" she spoke into the speaker.

"Avie," Cordelia's voice greeted her. "Just calling to make sure our plans for tomorrow night are still on?" she asked sounding a bit hopeful. "I mean unless of course something came up with your girlfriend," she added on sounding bitter.

Avery rolled her eyes at that, still not sure why sometimes it seemed Paisley struck a chord with Cordelia. "Of course our plans are still on to go out and celebrate your birthday," she nodded knowing it was plans they had made just days ago even after knowing Juniper would be gone.

By the time Juniper came back Avery would be in Texas and Cordelia had made it clear she hadn't wanted to wait until after Avery came back from Texas to celebrate her eighteenth birthday so instead just the two of them would go out tomorrow and celebrate.

"And Paisley won't mind?" Cordelia questioned again still sounding bitter.

"Pai is in North Carolina too so no she won't," Avery shook her head. "But I doubt she would anyway. We're not dating we're just friends with benefits."

Cordelia snorted softly at that, "Sure seems like you're more than that as often as you two are together ever since you came out," she spoke and again she sound bitter which maybe this time it made Avery feel guilty because she knew they had been together a lot.

Paisley had even inserted herself into their friend group just like Cal had and maybe Cordelia felt left out, especially if whoever she wanted was still unavailable.

"I'm sorry," Avery apologized her voice going soft.

"Don't be," Cordelia sighed her sigh almost sounding guilty. "Just see ya tomorrow Avie," she muttered before hanging up.

Hanging up as well Avery was just about to lay her phone down when a text from Paisley came through, another smile appearing on her face as she read it.

Miss your face my moon :). Remind me why I came on this trip with the love birds?

Avery laughed as she sent her reply back.

Because you're a nice friend to Cal, my sun. Goodnight though and text me tomorrow, yeah?

After sending that, Avery finally laid her phone down. Moving to quickly move her laptop off her bed and then lay down. Feeling tired and a bit drained after the events of today.

Chapter Text

March 2008

"So what's the big deal?" Cordelia asked as she sat on Avery's bed and shut the laptop they had been using to browse that messageboard again. The same one Avery had browsed last night and one she wanted to look at again after getting back from going to dinner and a movie with Cordelia. "The fans speculate all the time about shit you knew that."

"I did but they have pictures of me kissing Paisley and if they reach the right people I am screwed," Avery stated as she looked over at Cordelia. "My parents will disown me and half of my siblings could do the same."

Cordelia laughed softly at Avery's words, resting her head on Avery's shoulder, "I doubt that will happen. You're Avery their good child or well semi good. They won't disown you just because you like girls. I mean heck they haven't disowned you because you have two lesbian friends."

Looking down at Cordelia's words, Avery blushed slightly, "They don't really know that you and Juniper are lesbians," she revealed feeling awful for keeping that secret from her family too but again she also knew they'd never accept her being friends with girls who were lesbians. They'd make her get new friends or try too.

"What?!" Cordelia questioned sounding stunned. "You've kept mine and Juniper's sexuality a secret from your family for years?"

Avery nodded as she raised her head, giving Cordelia a guilty little smile, "They'd freak over that too trust me. They're religious and they may not be Evangelical anymore but they sometimes still hold onto the roots of what they were taught. That and orthodoxy isn't that accepting of same sex attraction either. Being orthodox they'd just rather me become a nun then give into my urges," she explained knowing that even with her family being Eastern Orthodox they'd still never accept her or her friends.

"I kept it a secret so I could keep you and Juniper as friends Cordy," she sighed as she finished her argument for why she had kept such a huge secret.

Cordelia who had remained silent only moved her head from Avery's shoulder, "You know one of these days they are going to find out your secrets? I mean Taylor and Isaac almost did because of that messageboard. It's better if you just rip the band aid off and tell them now."

"It would be better but I can't. I have to keep this part of myself, my sexuality and my friends' a secret. At least until I'm comfortable," Avery told her as she reached out softly to push some hair behind Cordelia's ear. "I mean you remember how nervous you were before you came out to your parents don't you?" she asked with a tiny laugh remembering a conversation similar to this just last year when Cordelia who had been out to Juniper and Avery since 2005 decided to come out to her parents.

A decision that was made in a hotel room in Connecticut where Cordelia had joined her on the mini tour her brother's had embarked on. Helping her watch the babies then because that had been her job while her dad and Jessica helped with merchandise and other fan stuff.

"I'm surprised you remember that," Cordelia stated with a smile now. "I mean that was exactly a year ago this month. Figured your brain which has probably been everywhere this year would have forgotten that."

"I'd never forget something that was a big milestone decision in my friends life," Avery stated as she locked eyes with Cordelia, seeing her smile falter some at the use of the word friend.

"Yeah but it was my life and my milestone decision not yours and I guess I just figured you would have forgotten it."

"Well you thought wrong Cordy," Avery reassured her as she leaned in kiss Cordelia's cheek, though her mind soon went to that night instead of staying there in the room with Cordelia.

Avery who was laying in bed next to Cordelia the night after her brother's show, yawned as she closed her eyes. Letting the sounds of The Beatles singing I Want To Hold Your Hand, that was playing from her iPod lull her to sleep..or almost to sleep.

The lulling being ruined when Cordelia sat up beside her way too fast. Fast enough that Avery had almost thought she could have been asleep and had a nightmare which had woke her. But when Avery opened her eyes and saw Cordelia staring down at her all manic looking she knew Cordelia hadn't even been asleep at all.

"Is everything okay Cordy?" Avery asked softly her voice still sleepy sounding because she was sleepy. Her body yearning for the comfort of it.

"No," Cordelia answered with a shake of her head and now it was Avery who sat up fast, instantly feeling worried that Cordelia was sick or hurt or something and all traces of sleep were now gone from Avery.

"What's wrong? Are you sick or hurt....please tell me you aren't sick because germs on tour are bad especially with all the kids and babies," Avery told her as she began to ramble but if Cordelia was sick then she'd blame herself for even insisting that Cordelia come along on this mini tour to help her watch the babies.

Cordelia laughed though it was a nervous sounding laugh, "No I'm fine sort of. I just had this weird epiphany is all," she shrugged the manic look disappearing some.

"Weird epiphany?" Avery asked wondering what kind of epiphany Cordelia could have at one in the morning.

"I think I'm ready to tell my parents I'm gay. The idea makes me want to throw the fuck up but it's time ya know?" Cordelia smiled though she did indeed look nervous. "I'm comfortable with myself now and they may not accept me but I can."

Smiling as she listened to Cordelia talk Avery reached over for her friends hand, giving it a squeeze. "Then tell them. You have my full support on it and I know you'll have Juniper's," she nodded knowing that Juniper would be behind this too.

Though Juniper had been wanting Cordelia to do it ever since they realized mainly because she had immediately came out to her parents who had readily accepted the fact that their daughter was gay. But Juniper's parents also weren't Oklahoma born and raised like Avery's and Cordelia's so they weren't as prejudice.

Cordelia only smiled more as she squeezed Avery's hand back, her eyes going to their interlocked fingers. Looking at them as if they were her tether and maybe they were Avery guessed. Maybe right now her support and friendship was the only thing keeping Cordelia strong and Avery was sure she'd hate when Cordelia had her first girlfriend because she knew then that her place in Cordelia's life would get knocked down.

Something that Avery really didn't want. She'd much rather always be Cordelia's number one because Cordelia would always be hers. In the platonic way of course

"Yeah I guess I did think wrong," Cordelia spoke her voice all wistful sounding and bringing Avery out of her thoughts as she reached for Avery's hand, squeezing it some. "And I guess I should respect for now what secrets you keep from your family since I kept mine for so much longer after realizing I was gay and you're new to the whole holy shit I am gay experience," she teased and her words made both of them laugh. "But I can find out who took those pictures and beat their ass for you."

Laughing loudly Avery shook her head no even if the prospect of Cordelia beating up someone for her was a nice one.

"No," Avery stated as she squeezed Cordelia's hand back. "That wouldn't be nice even if the person who took the pictures wasn't too nice in not thinking of me and if I was even fully out of the closet yet," she stated bitter sounding because she'd probably always be bitter of that. "Can only really hope the rumors die off fast now that those pictures exist."

"The rumors surely won't die with captions like the one on Paisley's picture of you," Cordelia told her as she let go of Avery's hand. "That's all the fans were talking about today. How she called you her moon and that it must mean you're dating. You should really tell her that she needs to make her stuff private if you want the rumors to die down."

Nodding Avery sighed, "I know," she said knowing she would have to do it. "But that means telling her who my brothers are."

Cordelia laughed at that, "Of course you haven't told her. You really are just full of secrets Avery Laurel Hanson."

"It's not like I meant to keep this a secret. Just at first I guess I was leery she was a fan, you know I don't really trust fans. With good reason obviously," Avery muttered as she thought of the messageboard. "Anyway the first time with Paisley was only supposed to be a one time thing just to experiment and see if I did indeed like girls. But then it just kept happening."

"I don't get why it just kept happening. It's not like she's that attractive and she's kind of boring to hang around," Cordelia mused a bitter edge to her voice. "Nor do I even get why you chose a total fucking stranger to experiment with. You could have just asked me."

Rolling her eyes Avery should have known the topic of Paisley would make Cordelia bitter. It always did.

"Because I know I'm probably not your type Cordy. I didn't want to go to you and ask if we could experiment just to end up looking like an idiot when you said no."

"But that's the thing Avery, I wouldn't have said no," Cordelia whispered and her words made Avery pause. "I would have experimented with you because you are my type."

Feeling shocked as she took in Cordelia's words, Avery stayed silent for what felt like forever though she knew deep down was only the span of minutes. Not even sure what to say at first.

"And what about the person you like who isn't available?" Avery questioned finally speaking up. "You'd really sleep with me while liking someone else. That isn't you Cordy."

Giving an indignant sounding squeak Cordelia glared at Avery, "You really are blind aren't you? The person I liked was you and I only believed you weren't available because you know you claimed to be straight and you had just gotten with Jeremy. Now I know different and god damn it you could have just came to me instead of spilling your guts to a stranger who propositioned you in a record store," she muttered out with a scrunched up nose.

Avery feeling a bit taken aback by her outburst and almost regretting that she had spilled the details of how she had came to end up sleeping with Paisley once they had known she was a lesbian.

Though a lot of things made sense now to Avery as well like Cordelia's constant anger over Paisley and why she had ran out of the club after finding out.

"I'm sorry," Avery apologized not even sure what else there was to say but sorry.

It wasn't like she could rewind and change things even if she had always had a crush on Cordelia from the beginning. A part of her wasn't even sure she would anyway because Avery couldn't picture a life without Paisley in it in some form.

"Yeah so am I," Cordelia nodded her head not looking at Avery now. "Because maybe if I told you sooner I wouldn't have to watch from the sidelines as the girl I love is falling in love with someone else."

Frowning at Cordelia's words, Avery too looked away as she blinked back tears. Hating the heartbreak in Cordelia's tone as she talked. Hating knowing that she was the cause of it.

"I did have a crush on you," Avery admitted softly. "That's the reason why I was confused to begin with because when Jeremy kissed me I wanted it to be you. Hell after the first time with Paisley I wondered what it would be like to have done those things to you instead of her."

"And you don't have one on me now do you?" Cordelia asked though it sounded more like a statement. "Not when you light up at the mention of Paisley's name or smile like a fucking idiot in her presence."

Letting her frown deepen, Avery closed her eyes because Cordelia was right. The crush she had, had on her friend was gone. Being replaced by the feelings she was trying desperately not to have for Paisley.

"I'm sorry," Avery apologized again which only made Cordelia shake her head.

"You don't need to apologize for being in love," Cordelia told her as she reached up to wipe a few tears that had escaped and were going down her cheek. "Just...I wish I didn't have to see you so happy while I'm suffering and I wish it didn't feel like I was losing my best friend."

"You're not losing me though," Avery reassured her as she reached for her hand. "You're always going to be my number one," she smiled though it felt like it didn't even reach her eyes.

How could it when she felt genuinely sad for Cordelia right now.

"No I won't and I'm not. Paisley is your number one right now and I have to live with that," Cordelia sighed though she let Avery take her hand.

A silence filling Avery's room after she had said that because maybe they both knew what Cordelia said was the truth which also hurt Avery because hadn't she always wanted Cordelia to be her number one. Just a year ago she had but things had changed so much in a year it seemed.

"Happy fucking birthday to me," Cordelia muttered sarcastically before standing from Avery's bed. "I should just go home before it gets worse," she sighed before turning to leave and Avery almost wanted to protest but she didn't.

Instead she just continued to stay silent, watching as Cordelia left almost afraid their friendship would be forever damaged now because of her because in the end maybe it was her fault. If she hadn't confided in Paisley who was a random stranger and just went to Cordelia instead or if she hadn't went to Paisley a second time or even a third maybe things would be different.

But still Avery knew she wouldn't change things not even with what she knew now. Though she did wish for Cordelia's sake she still had a crush on her because then maybe she'd be able to make Cordelia happy and try something with her and just end the friends with benefits thing with Paisley but she couldn't.

Wouldn't even know how right now with the feelings she had for Paisley. Feelings she was trying to curb so badly.

Chapter Text

March 2008

Sitting in Natalie and Taylor's hotel room, Avery smiled softly as she looked down beside her at Penny who was laying on one of the beds coloring while Ezra played some game on Natalie's laptop and River slept in the bed opposite them.

Avery feeling a bit thankful for the break right now because ever since she had, had the children today they had all been hyper and active and maybe they had wore Avery out. Made her feel tired and she was almost counting down the time until she could go to the hotel room she was sharing with Zoe and sleep.

Hoping that Zoe let her sleep anyway because sometimes Avery swore that Zoe could be bad about letting her sleep when they shared rooms.

But sleep was what she wanted to do and if Natalie's text that she had sent was true she would be back in thirty minutes which meant that her brother's show at the Bat Bar had to be almost done because Natalie would never leave until the very end. She was still that much of a fangirl at times.

"Aunt Avie?" Penny questioned bringing Avery out of her thoughts. "How come you aren't going to be watching us tomorrow?" she questioned sounding all sweet and innocent and very much like a girl who wanted her aunt to watch her tomorrow.

"Because tomorrow I'm watching Everett for Nikki and going with your Granna Hanson and Aunt Zoe to see the Jenkins," Avery told her as she smiled more.

Almost liking that tomorrow she only had one kid to watch instead of three and tomorrow she'd also have her mom and Zoe there as well while today it had just been her because there was no way that Avery and all three kids could fit in the same car as her mom and Zoe to go and see the Jenkins the family friends they had here in Texas, which maybe it was a good thing then that at the last minute Jessica and Mac had chosen to stay home.

Because it felt hectic enough to Avery to have as many family members as they did already here in Texas.

Penny made a face as if she was thinking over her next question, a face that Avery knew she got from Taylor. "Well can't you leave Everett here with Ezzie and River and take me instead?" she asked before batting her eyelashes.

Laughing Avery shook her head, "I don't think your mommy would like that too well, remember you guys are going out before the show to celebrate your daddy's birthday?"

"Oh, right," Penny spoke almost as if she had forgot and that seemed to tide her over on questioning Avery as she went back to her coloring and Avery turned her attention to the TV, where she tried her best to pay attention to whatever TV show was on but her brain was just too tired to do that.

Her brain obviously wanting sleep and wanting it now.

Though it seemed her brain just couldn't win as her phone vibrated and she pulled it out of the pocket of her jeans. Seeing a text from Cordelia and feeling a bit surprised as they hadn't spoken since Saturday when Avery had obviously broken her heart.

How's Texas?

Texas is good. How are you?

Drowning in my feelings by eating ice cream but hey I found out I just got accepted to that one college I really wanted to go to this fall.

The one in San Fran?

Yep :) I'm finally leaving Tulsa behind.

Reading Cordelia's last text Avery swallowed hard, a part of her feeling sad again because with this news that meant both of her friends were leaving her alone in Tulsa next year.

Juniper moving to North Carolina with Calliope and Cordelia moving to San Francisco and she'd be stuck in Tulsa semi alone.

Yeah she'd have Paisley maybe if they were still sleeping together by then but her friends would be gone and never once in her life had she really been without them. Even when she was arguing with one of them. They had always been there in some way and now they wouldn't and she'd be alone and that was probably the downfall of being the youngest in her friends group and being a grade behind Cordelia and two behind Juniper.

Hearing the hotel door open though Avery came back out of her own head as she pocketed her phone again, not even responding to Cordelia yet. Because how could she congratulate her friend when she was conflicted on her leaving?

"Sorry I'm a few minutes late," Natalie spoke as she came into view and Avery stood from the bed, giving her a friendly smile.

"It's okay," Avery told her as she shook her head. "It was no problem. Once I got the kids bathed and settled for the night they were fine."

Natalie seemed to smile gratefully at that looking somewhat relieved and with Taylor nowhere in sight Avery guessed she probably was because that meant the kids would be good while she dealt with them alone. Until whenever time Taylor decided to come back to the hotel.

"I'm glad to hear it because trust me I know they can be a handful," Natalie laughed as she put her purse on the end of the bed that River was sleeping in. "Even after their bath sometimes."

"I guess I lucked out then that they weren't a handful on me tonight," Avery laughed as she moved to leave the room. "Goodnight Nat," she said before opening the door, hearing Natalie say goodnight to her as well and it was after she responded that Avery slipped out of the room.

Heading down the hall to the room she shared with Zoe and again the moment she was alone her brain was screaming for sleep. Though now when she slept she could at least forget for awhile that soon in a matter of months she'd be left alone without her friends there for her.

When she reached the door of the hotel room, Avery found her hotel key in the other pocket on her jeans. Letting herself in the room and none to surprised to see Zoe sitting on the bed she had claimed yesterday watching some show on the Disney channel.

"Disney channel still Zobug?" Avery asked as she shut the door behind her and walked to her bed where she collapsed none too gracefully. "Aren't you a little too old for those shows by now?" she asked with a smile because maybe she got a kick out of teasing Zoe some.

Then again she knew Zoe could kind of give it back just as good because again she had learned from Mac who had probably learned from Zac.

"And aren't you too old to be sharing a room with your ten year old sister but here you are," Zoe retorted as she stuck her tongue out at Avery which made Avery laugh softly.

"Touche," Avery nodded her head before letting out a yawn and closing her eyes. "Enjoy your Disney shows though as long as it means you'll let me sleep," she muttered softly too tired to even get up and change into her pajamas.

When Zoe didn't respond back and the room stayed silent except for whatever TV show she was watching, Avery sighed almost content as she kept her eyes shut. Hoping that sleep took her soon because she'd take it and enjoy it for all it was worth.

Though she knew she'd still wake up in the morning with the knowledge that her best friends were leaving her behind. That no matter how many feelings she had for Paisley and no matter how much it would be nice to have Paisley still if things were still the same between them by this fall it would still be different because her friends were much different than the woman she may have loved.

They were people she could run too and not be judged or they were anyway. She was still so unsure about things with Cordelia and hell maybe Cordelia had only told her to make her hurt just like she had hurt her.

But maybe Avery was just being crazy and maybe Cordelia just wanted to share her happiness with her friend even if she was upset at said friend.

"Hey Avie?" Zoe sing songed bring Avery who had been close to sleep back to reality and she heaved a sigh though she kept her eyes shut.

"What Zoe?" Avery spoke up sounding a tad bit annoyed.

"How come Jeremy didn't come after all on this trip? I mean he was supposed to come and he's still your boyfriend isn't he?" Zoe questioned and her words made Avery open her eyes as she swallowed hard.

She should have known someone would question Jeremy's absence since he was supposed to be here and they hadn't told anyone they weren't dating anymore. Having decided that for now since neither were ready to come out to their family that it'd be easier to just keep up the dating rouse until one or both were ready to come out or until they had someone steady of the same sex to date even if they didn't come out.

Taking a deep breath Avery opened her mouth to speak, "Things just came up with his dad's church," she lied and she hoped it was believable enough. After all Jeremy's dad was a pastor and he sometimes had his kids help out last minute with stuff at times.

Zoe gave her skeptical look as if she was trying to decide if she believed Avery or not.

"Oh, I was just...I guess I thought maybe you two were having trouble," Zoe shrugged as she looked down.

"Why would you think that Zobug?" Avery questioned with a chuckle that sounded forced.

Zoe only shrugged again as she stayed looking down, "I just do but then again you love him," she stated before looking at Avery as if she could see right through her sister. "Don't you Avie?"

Now it was Avery who looked down, "Of course I do Zoe," she nodded her head and well she did love Jeremy just not like a boyfriend. She loved him the same as she loved all her brothers.

"Are you positive?" Zoe questioned again and Avery again felt annoyed because she'd much rather be asleep than playing twenty-one questions with her baby sister.

"Yes I'm positive now goodnight Zoe, I'm going to sleep," Avery snapped out as she closed her eyes again and this time she even turned away from Zoe. Hoping that her sister got the hint and stopped asking questions.

Waking from a peaceful sleep to something vibrating against her leg, Avery opened her eyes slowly. Blinking several times as she slowly came too. Realizing that the room was now pitch black and the TV was off and as she turned over slowly she could make out Zoe's sleeping figure in the bed opposite hers.

Feeling another vibration Avery looked down at the pocket of jeans, knowing that her phone had been the reason she had woken up and so she reached inside to pull it out. Almost expecting to see two texts from Cordelia questioning her on why she hadn't replied to congratulate her once the phone was turned on but instead she saw the two texts were from Paisley.

So guess who dyed her hair blonde?

Laughing Avery only shook her head before opening the second text.

If you guessed me you'd be right. But my hair dying isn't why I was texting. I was texting to say that Junie, Cal, and I may or may not be in Austin right now and at your hotel. We had to pry the info from Cordelia but she caved. We have a room on the third floor if you know you want to come and hang out with us. There is alcohol and pizza.

Avery just stared at the second text having to reread it several times over just to make sure she was reading it right and when it became apparent she was she bit her lip. Sending a text back.

It's one in the morning....and I don't even know what room you guys have on the third floor.

Room 355 and I mean if you want to be an old lady and sleep you can do that ;) We'll just enjoy the pizza and alcohol without you.

Biting her lip as she read Paisley's text back, Avery knew she shouldn't go to their room. Not when she had a long day tomorrow hanging out with family friends and also watching Everett but the pull to hang out with her friends as well as find out why they were in Austin exactly was much too strong so she slipped out of bed.

Doing her best to be silent and not wake Zoe as she left the room, heading to the elevators quickly in case someone from her family came outside. A part of her hoping that her brothers were all in for the night because she wasn't sure what excuse she'd come up with for being up and taking an elevator at one in the morning.

Chapter Text

March 2008

Sitting on the balcony with Paisley as they looked out at the city, Avery handed her back the cup of coke with rum that they were sharing.

"You know you have a much better view in your room than I do in mine," she mused out loud her words only slurring a bit because she wasn't that drunk or so she didn't think. This was only the second cup of the drink that she had shared with Paisley.

The first cup had been when they were eating pizza in the hotel room with Calliope and Juniper, only coming outside with the cups and the alcohol after Calliope and Juniper had started making out on the bed.

Which Avery was sure if she turned to look back inside she'd find the two girls still making out, a fact that made her feel slightly sorry for Paisley who had been traveling with them this whole time. There was no telling how many make out sessions she had been subjected too in the past few days.

"Oh so you have the view of the shitty alleyway?" Paisley questioned after taking a drink from the cup.

Avery nodded her head as she took the cup from Paisley, "Yep, shitty alley is the view you get from my room," she laughed softly as she took another drink from the cup. "Wish we had gotten rooms with better views but sometimes my brothers tell the people who book their rooms to be cheapskates or at least that's my opinion anyway."

Paisley snorted out a laugh at that, "Such a harsh views of your brother's their Avery," she said before nudging Avery's shoulder. "Which by the way I am severely disappointed I had to find out from Juniper who your brothers were on the way to Austin."

"I would have told you eventually," Avery blushed as she handed the cup back to Paisley. "Once I was certain you weren't a fan or someone weird who just wanted me for my brothers or something. Which trust me it happens. The rare male fans we get some hit on Jessie and well I think a few of the girl fans have even propositioned her just to get close to our brothers."

"And you think I would really be like that?" Paisley asked with a mock offense to her tone. "Do I really seem like a crazy obsessed Hanson fan to you? I haven't even listened to your brothers since MMMBop was popular so I was a bit surprised to hear the reason you were in Austin was because your brothers who are the boys from the band Hanson were playing at it."

Blushing more Avery looked down, "Well you don't look like the typical fans they have but I just wanted to be cautious though I guess I should have told you sooner since your privacy has been invaded like mine with those club pictures," she whispered knowing she had confessed to those over the pizza just like she had told Paisley she may want to change the setting on her myspace to private as the fans had found it.

Which Paisley didn't seem too surprised over and Avery guessed she had probably gotten a boost in friend's request or something. It had happened when fans found Juniper last year which is how she even found out about the messageboards and fan sites that existed.

Since then Cordelia and Juniper both had put their myspaces on private and Avery had changed hers to private and made up some fake name to hide under. In hopes that fans wouldn't find her though of course that failed but she still used that myspace with the fake name.

Felt more secure even if it had been found out by fans.

"Yeah, you probably should have," Paisley nodded her head in agreement as she took a long drink from the cup before setting it down between them. "I'm sorry that happened to you though. That you got outed like that and I can't help but feel maybe it's partly my fault you know. I shouldn't have kissed you in such a public place."

Avery shook her head, "It wasn't your fault. I should have known that maybe my brothers had gay fans who would be in that club so maybe I should have been careful where I let you kiss me but I guess I hoped their fans would respect my privacy at non concert events, especially in a gay club because for all they knew maybe I wasn't out and I'm still not out to family. May never come out to them because I know how all of them would probably react."

"All of them?" Paisley questioned with a raised eyebrow. "All of them are that bad?"

"Well maybe they aren't but I'm sure if my mom tried hard enough she could get all of them to turn on me if she wanted. She sorta wears the pants in our family and that woman is attached to her religion and she hopes all of her children marry the opposite sex and marry well," Avery laughed knowing how mad her mom had been when Taylor had gotten Natalie pregnant.

She was sure somewhere along the way she had heard her mom utter once that Natalie wasn't fit for their family though Avery was also sure she hadn't been meant to hear it.

It was also one reason Avery felt Kate tried to live up to her mom's expectations whereas Nikki didn't seem to care as much and poor Natalie well she seemed blind. Then again she was married to Taylor and she seemed blind to a lot of things.

Like the gay rumors that surrounded Taylor as well as the way a lot of fans on the messageboards were so sure her brother had cheated. Though Avery wasn't sure of that she wasn't sure of a lot when it came to Taylor.

Sometimes she even wondered if he was a part of their family or if a bunch of aliens had dropped him off on their doorstep.

Zac had told her once when he was twelve and she was seven that, that was what had happened and Avery in her childhood innocence had believed him for the longest time. At least until she realized where babies truly came from the year that Zoe was born.

"No offense but your mom kind of sounds like a bitch," Paisley stated and her words made Avery laugh though it was a bitter sounding laugh.

"She can be but she's also my mom and it's weird but I guess I have to love her and it's not like she's the worst parent ever," Avery defended with a shrug of her shoulders. "Enough talking about family though, how about telling me why you guys came all the way to Austin to see me?" she questioned knowing she had meant to ask when they had all been eating pizza but it had slipped her mind.

Paisley looked away from Avery after that, taking a deep breath. "I guess after a couple of days stuck with the love birds I wanted to see you and maybe also show you my hair sooner than what you would see it if we just went straight to Tulsa and waited for you to come back on the sixteenth."

"So you wanted to see me just because you're stuck with the love birds inside sucking face?" Avery asked a bit curiously because that didn't make sense. "And so I could see your dye job which I kinda miss your black hair but blonde does suit you."

Taking another deep breath, Paisley turned to look back at Avery, "Weird I know but what can I say I missed you," she spoke and maybe Avery was seeing things but even outside in the dark it looked like Paisley was blushing. "But you know you kind of bruised my ego with saying you miss my black which means you probably don't like the blonde even if it does suit me."

Avery laughed again as she reached over for Paisley's hand, "I mean I'll still continue having sex with you regardless of your hair color."

"Nice to know you'll still have sex with me regardless Hanson," Paisley smirked as she linked her fingers with Avery's squeezing them softly and Avery hated the butterflies she had or the way that once again her skin burned.

None of these things were supposed to happen and she needed to keep her feelings in check but it was just hard every time she was around Paisley not to fall deeper each and every time.

"It's going to suck leaving tonight," Paisley continued in Avery's silence. "Really don't want to spend another day without you and be stuck with those two being all sugary sweet and in love."

"It'll only be a day," Avery smiled as she squeezed Paisley's hand back. "I think you can last a day," she muttered out before leaning in to leave a light kiss on Paisley's cheek.

Paisley made a face as if she debating whether she could last a day, "It'll be hard but I'll try for you," she smiled before turning her head and kissing Avery softly on the lips. Avery's eyes fluttering shut when that happened.

Her heart feeling like it had skipped a beat and maybe it shouldn't have felt like that. Not when she shouldn't have feelings for Paisley.

Kissing her back though Avery let her free hand go to rest on Paisley's cheek softly. Wishing the kiss didn't have to end but she knew it would just like she knew she needed to get back to her own hotel room soon. Try to get some sleep before her busy day tomorrow.

When Paisley pulled away from the kiss finally, Avery sighed softly, "I should probably head back to my room now. Got a busy day tomorrow with the family and friends."

Paisley again made a face, a look of resignation passing, "Yeah and I should probably try to sleep though I doubt those two will let me."

Avery frowned some, "I mean I'd offer that you could stay in mine but I don't know how I could explain to my ten year old sister how some person she's never met before came to be in our room," she stated knowing Zoe would probably have a freak out or something if Paisley came to stay in their room and she woke up and saw her.

It wasn't like her family had ever met her before and well she was almost afraid for them too. Paisley did have the stereotypical lesbian look unlike Cordelia and Juniper.

"No I get it and I don't want to freak out your ten year old sister or anything," Paisley laughed as she shook her head before standing up and offering Avery her hand.

Taking Paisley's hand Avery stood up and headed inside with her once she had opened the sliding glass door. Not surprised in the least to see that Calliope and Juniper were still making out on the bed.

"You think they've came up to breath yet?" Avery asked teasingly as she walked with Paisley to the door.

"Highly unlikely," Paisley replied with a shake of her head. "Half expect to find them in bed dead with their lips attached to each other."

"Screw you Pai," Calliope yelled out obviously having heard Avery and Paisley's conversation.

Paisley only rolled her eyes, "Much rather be screwed by Avery but thanks for the offer Cal," she said back before turning back to Avery.

Avery only shook her head before leaning in to kiss her one last time.

"See you maybe hopefully sometime before you leave tonight," she spoke after pulling away and letting go of Paisley's hand. "If not though I'll see you when I get back to Tulsa."

Nodding her head Paisley smiled wistfully at Avery and Avery returned it before opening the door and leaving the hotel room.

Making her way to the elevator's she pulled out her phone and turned it on, making a face when she saw it was five in the morning and she could only hope that Zoe was still in bed as well as hope that she got a bit of sleep before her day tomorrow.

Especially since she'd have Everett because watching a kid with next to no sleep was not fun.

Avery who had made it back to her hotel room, slowly opened the door and closed it behind her just as slowly. Glad that it was still pitch dark and silent in here because it meant that Zoe was still asleep. Maybe hadn't woken and saw her gone.

Because how could Avery explain her absence? She couldn't without digging her own grave.

Slipping back into bed, Avery closed her eyes drifting off into a peaceful sleep filled with dreams of happier days and Paisley. A lot of Paisley.

Chapter Text

March 2008

Avery kept her sunglasses on even though she was inside a restaurant in Texas eating breakfast with her mom and Zoe. Everett seated in a high chair next to their table.

"Are you sure you're feeling okay?" Diana asked which made Avery turn to look at her mom, knowing she was talking to her because she had been asking her if she was okay all morning. Ever since she had seen her and said that her daughter looked like death warmed over.

Probably became even more suspicious in Avery not feeling well when Avery had turned down an early morning slice of pie from the birthday pie that Natalie had bought Taylor at some point yesterday. Slices both her mom and Zoe had taken and Avery hadn't understood how they could both still want to eat right now.

But Avery had played it off as just not going well with the diet she was on right now which she hadn't been the only one to turn down the pie. Zac had too using his fasting as an excuse which Avery thought was bullshit because their mom had so readily dropped hers for a piece of pie.

Then again Zac seemed to be more into fasting than their mom was. Kate being the same because for some reason they clung to religion as if it was the cure for all the bad things in their life. Like losing their baby which had in Avery's opinion been the catalyst for them finding God again and clinging to him and the church like a lifesaver.

Maybe a bit too much of one but then again Avery wasn't even sure God existed so she was just a bit jaded at times it seemed.

"I'm fine," Avery lied because she had, had a bit of a headache since waking up. "Just not a morning person is all."

Her mom just looked her over, like she didn't believe a word out of Avery's mouth. "You're lying to me Avie," she finally spoke in between bites of the bagel she had ordered. "You know how I feel about lying but then again you've been doing that a lot haven't you?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

A raised eyebrow of judgement in Avery's opinion and she really hated that they were even having this conversation in front of Zoe.

"I guess I have yeah," Avery admitted her voice coming out small. Like a child instead of the seventeen year old girl that she was.

Diana nodded her head still keeping her raised eyebrow of judgement, "I can't help but feel like it's because of your new friend," she said again and now even her words sounded judgemental. Like she already hated Avery's friend that she didn't even know. "You know the one you spent all night with instead of being at Juniper's and honestly I feel like I shouldn't even let you out of the house if you're going to keep this attitude up. At least not until you let your father and I meet this friend of yours. Just so my mind can be put at ease that she isn't the one making you act out."

Going silent at her mom's words, Avery looked down picking slowly at the egg sandwich that she had ordered, "But mom..." she started before her mom cut her off.

"Don't but mom me Avery Laurel Hanson. Either your father and I meet this friend of yours or you won't be leaving the house until your eighteenth birthday in November," Diana spoke her words coming across stern and Avery knew she meant business.

She also knew there was a deeper meaning to this than just her lying too. Deep down her mom was doing this as a way to meet Avery's friend because she felt upset that Avery finally had a friend that she didn't know about and she wanted to change that.

Wanted to meet this friend to see if she approved and Avery was afraid of what would happen if she didn't. Because luckily so far her mom had always approved of her friends.

Sighing visibly Avery rolled her eyes almost glad she had sunglasses on. "That's bullshit," she stated not even caring that she had just cursed in front of her mom but before her mom could get onto her she stood from the table and just walked away.

Quickly heading outside of the restaurant and stepping onto the busy and somewhat crowded streets of downtown Austin. Glad that their hotel was close enough to walk to because that was where she wanted to go.

Just needed to get away from her mom for awhile, just needed to breathe and think and maybe draw. Go to her happy place because she was far from it right now.

Though Avery knew she shouldn't have cursed in front of her mom, shouldn't have ran off especially when she was supposed to be watching Everett but she knew he'd be in good hands with Zoe and her mom just like she knew she'd get in more trouble than what she already was for what had just transpired in the restaurant.

The good child that everyone claimed she was had finally snapped. Been pushed a bit too much by her mom's demands or maybe it was just a combination of everything lately. Avery wasn't sure but she was sure that she needed her art.

Needed to draw and release her feelings that way.

Once Avery was back inside of her hotel room she found her sketchpad, grabbing it and a few pencils as well as her iPod before going out on the balcony and sitting down.

Opening the sketchbook to a new page she put her earbuds in her ears before starting her iPod, putting it on the Travis song Flowers In The Window and the moment the music started Avery began to draw. Not even sure what she was going to draw.

Deciding that for once she was going to wing it and she began to draw she let her mind wander. Feeling herself relax, her shoulders even loosening some as she did so.

Eleven year older Avery laughed loudly as she ran through the kitchen of her parents main house. Running alongside their dog Jack as she followed him outside. It was a nice summer day and one of the rare ones where most of her family was gone.

Taylor still in Hawaii for his honeymoon with Natalie, Isaac probably god knew where but a girl was probably involved and her parents were still in Georgia. Helping to pack up Natalie's belongings so that most of them would be here when Taylor and Natalie got back from their honeymoon.

Which meant that for now at least Zac was in charge of everyone at least until Isaac came home tonight. Then Isaac would be in charge but for now she'd much rather have Zac. He was the brother who knew how to have all the fun even with the way he'd been acting all weird and moody since coming back from California.

Stopping though when she made it outside, she saw Zac by the pool. A CD player plugged in nearby as he worked on a painting. Something she hadn't seen him in do in ages and something that Avery was sure he didn't do often. Not like her anyway because lately Avery was discovering that art was something she liked.

Something she could do to escape her family's busy life and something she had done a lot of during Taylor and Natalie's wedding planning because that had been hard on everyone in some way and it had been too much for Avery.

Biting her lip Avery slowed down, walking over to Zac as Jack ran off to somewhere else which wasn't surprising as the dog had never really been fond of Zac for some odd reason.

"Hey Zaccy," Avery spoke once she was close enough to get her brother's attention. "Can I sit out here with you?" she asked curiously her voice going all small and soft because she was afraid of his answer.

Afraid that he'd say no even if he'd always been nice to her and let her do whatever she wanted. There had to come a time when eventually he'd find her too young to let just hang out with him. There had to come a time when he'd find her presence annoying.

Taylor already sort of did and Isaac had never really been close to her. Not like he was with Taylor or Zac anyway which was probably good since Avery herself found Isaac a bit boring but of course she'd never tell him that. She was nice and the eleven year old wanted to spare her brother's feelings.

Zac turned to look at Avery a curious look on his face, "You want to just sit out here with me?" he asked sounding a bit confused. "You'll just get bored watching me paint."

"No more bored than sitting inside and watching Mackie play video games can be," Avery told him with a tiny smile. "Maybe a bit less boring than that actually because you're kind of my favorite brother."

Laughing at that information, Zac shook his head softly looking happier than Avery had seen him look for the first time in months.

"Then have a seat Avie baby," Zac told her using the nickname that she swore he'd always use for her though everyone else had stopped using it over time.

Smiling Avery sat down in the chair beside Zac, watching as he turned away from her and went back to his painting and Avery watched with interest as he did so.

Feeling a bit taken aback at how sad his painting was. It was full of dark colors a stark contrast from the bright colors that she used when she painted or drew stuff. But maybe just like her this was somehow a way for Zac to get his feelings out and maybe he was full of sad feelings.

A thought that made the eleven year old sad herself because she hated thinking of Zac as sad. Her brother deserved to be happy especially with everything that she knew was happening with the record label.

"You know Avie baby you should probably keep the fact that I'm your favorite brother to yourself," Zac spoke again breaking the silence that had gathered between them. "Not sure Isaac, Taylor or even Mackie would take that too well."

"Probably not which is why I did have no intentions of telling them you doofus," Avery replied a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "I'm not stupid Zac."

Zac only turned to look at her with a look that said he doubted her words, "You're a Hanson, Avery and I hate to break it to you but we are all stupid from time to time. Some of us more so than others."

"Taylor takes the cake in stupidity though," Avery told Zac. "I mean he had to be stupid to get Natalie pregnant like he did."

Pausing Zac chewed on his lip like he was thinking of a way to answer her. "I think it's more to it than that. You'll get it one day when you're old enough," he smiled and for once Avery didn't feel like he was saying it to be mean like most others who said that to her when it came to stuff that she didn't get at eleven.

After Zac said that things fell silent between them again at least until Zac was done with his painting and the CD he listened to had replayed once more. Now starting a song about flowers in the window and this time when the song started, Zac stood from his chair as he looked down at Avery.

"Dance with me Avie baby," Zac spoke as he held out his hand to her and Avery just looked up at him skeptically.

Which Zac must have taken as her answer because he bent down and picked her up so effortlessly, making her giggle as he held her and began to dance with her almost comically to the song playing. Her eyes closing as she tried to commit this moment to memory.

Because again it was the happiest she had seen her brother in so long. Too long almost.

Coming out of her thoughts as the song which she had on repeat ended for probably the millionth time Avery looked down at the drawing she had just finished. A drawing that was an old memory to her now.

Dancing with Zac out by the pool on a June day when she had been eleven. Them listening to the same song she had been listening to as she drew and as she looked back on the drawing now both people she had drew felt like strangers in some ways to her.

Just like that time felt like so long ago but at the same time it was probably one of her favorite drawings she had done in awhile. Because it seemed her art had been suffering slightly with her mood so in between and now as she looked at the finished piece she almost wanted to sit down sometime after getting back home to Tulsa and painting it.

Maybe putting this in her room like the painting she had made in 2004 of her and Ezra at the beach was hung up in the family's living room.

This painting could be just hers and hers alone or maybe one she'd feel okay enough with sharing it with Zac one day. But sharing her paintings with her family was just weird for her at times. Letting them into parts of herself she didn't like letting them into.

Standing up with her sketchpad in her hand, Avery headed inside right as the door to her hotel room opened and she saw Zoe come in slowly. Her eyes landing on Avery as she gave her a suspicious look.

"Mom's upset with you," she spoke plainly stating what Avery already knew. "Never seen her that upset Avery."

Avery looked down feeling guilty as she closed her sketchpad. "I know," she sighed feeling like she knew she had to go to her mom's room. Try to make things right with her. "I'll apologize sometime tonight," she nodded her head and though she knew she would do and needed to do it. She was dreading it.

Knowing her mom was probably going to let her have it because of how rude she had been and not to mention she had done it in a public place and if there was one thing Avery knew her mom hated it was a public spectacle.

One that made her look bad anyway.

Chapter Text

March 2008

Avery nervously fidgeted with the heart ring that she wore on her right hand. A ring that had been a birthday gift from her father the year she turned sixteen and one she rarely took off. Mainly because it meant a lot to her as it was the first piece of jewelry she had gotten from anyone.

Now though she was finding that it was a perfect tool to ease her nerves because she was standing outside her mom's room and trying to get up the courage to go in and beg for forgiveness. But her nerves were winning and she was about to chicken out and not do it.

Just run back to the hotel room which she shared with Zoe and let the anger between her mom and herself linger. But she knew better than that. Knew it wouldn't do any good so she stopped fidgeting with her ring and looked up.

Raising her hand she knocked hesitantly on her mom's bedroom door. Not having to wait long for her mom to answer it.

"Avery," Diana spoke with an expectant tone to her voice. "I take it you are here to talk about how you acted today?"

Avery nodded her head as she felt a lump in her throat, tears soon coming to her eyes. "I'm sorry," she apologized finally breaking down and the moment she did her mom put an arm around her and ushered her inside. Shutting the door behind them.

"I'm sure you are," Diana told her as she rubbed her back. "That was so unlike how you usually are Avery Laurel," she continued to speak as she walked them to the bed and once they were there she sat down on the side after pulling away from Avery.

Patting the spot beside her for Avery to sit down which she did.

"I know it was," Avery acknowledged as she reached up to wipe some of her tears away. "I just I guess I had a lot on my mind and I just snapped," she spoke not wanting to admit that most of the reason she had went off is because she was sleep deprived and she did truly think her mom's new rule was bullshit.

Diana's face softened some as she reached over to move Avery's hair out of her face, "What all has been on your mind Avie? You can tell me I'm your mom."

Avery looked away from her mom, knowing that she could tell her mom almost anything but she couldn't tell her everything that had been happening lately.

"Just my friends are all going to leave Tulsa by the end of the year and I'm going to be all alone," Avery told her mom as her voice went soft. She knew Paisley may still be in Tulsa but again it just wouldn't be the same without her two friends. "Cordelia got into college in San Francsico and Juniper's moving to North Carolina with the person she's dating."

Diana took in what Avery said, her face staying soft, "I didn't even know Juniper had a boyfriend," she smiled and Avery knew she couldn't correct her mom. Not when everything was so fragile. "But I do get how you feel. You'll feel lost without both of them right?"

"Yeah," Avery confirmed as she felt more tears going down her cheeks. "Almost wish we could see about me getting my GED when we get back to Tulsa so I can finish school early."

"And what would that accomplish Avery?" Diana asked with a tiny laugh. "Your friends will still be gone and you'll still be stuck in Tulsa without them."

"I know but I could graduate early and maybe travel for the summer," Avery suggested with a smile. "Get to see the world some more. I mean I have money saved up from baby-sitting jobs I've done for friends and also Nikki because she pays me whereas the other wives don't."

Diana sighed at her words, "You really want to travel all summer? At seventeen?"

Avery nodded her head, "Just the states and maybe France. I mean if you and dad will let me," she spoke knowing she was testing her luck on an idea that had just really came to her now.

One that made her nervous because how could she even tell Paisley this? Though why would Paisley even care? They were just friends with benefits after all.

"I'll talk to your father about it," Diana told Avery with a smile that let her know that maybe her mom was warm to the idea. "But I still want to meet this new friend you have Avery," she finished and Avery looked away from her mom.

Having hoped that her mom had forgotten about that.

"I'll talk to her when we get back and maybe you can meet her then," Avery said already dreading telling Paisley that too.

Diana smiled even more at that before pulling Avery into another hug, "Good," she whispered as she rubbed Avery's back again. "I'm glad things are okay between us again Avery. I hate it when I argue with any of you kids and I swear you all get your ability to want to test me from your dad."

Avery laughed at that, the tears she had from before slowly going away. Feeling a bit better now that she had talked to her mom.

Just a bit because she still hated that her mom wanted to meet Paisley and she was also worried that maybe eventually once her mom talked to her dad that she wouldn't get to do what she wanted about her schooling or even leaving Tulsa for the summer.

Already deciding that if she did get to travel for the summer she'd see about enrolling in a school in the fall of 2008 or maybe even in the spring of 2009. Whichever one felt better for her.

Though she'd wait until later to reveal that to her parents. Maybe after her trip if she got to go on it.

Going back to the room she was sharing with Zoe, Avery stepped inside and closed the door behind her. Soon going to her bag to grab her pajamas to change into after she showered.

"Someone came by looking for you while you were gone," Zoe spoke and Avery could hear her sister moving towards the end of her bed so she could be closer to where Avery was bent over her bag getting her clothes out.

"Someone came looking for me?" Avery asked as she turned her head to look at her sister. Seeing a CD case as well as a folded up piece of paper in her hand.

Zoe nodded her head looking at Avery as if Avery were slow. "Blonde girl, hipster wanna be, wears reading glasses for fun," she told Avery as she described who had came by and Avery hoped she was able to keep her composure because Zoe had just described Paisley.

"She left these for you," Zoe finished as she handed the folded up paper and CD to Avery.

Reaching out Avery took the paper and the CD from Zoe, "You didn't read this did you?" she asked her voice sounding like that of a scared child.

But again she knew how her sister was. Had even caught Zoe once going through Jessica's diary so it wouldn't have been above her to read whatever was in the letter that Paisley had written to her.

Which was scary to think about because she wasn't sure she wanted Zoe knowing about Paisley and her just yet. Zoe wasn't the ideal candidate she wanted to come out too first in her family.

"No," Zoe answered with a shake of her head, her face remaining neutral. "Who was the girl though? I've never seen her before."

Standing up once she had her clothes, Avery tightened her grip on the CD and the letter, "Just a friend," she sighed afraid to reveal too much.

"The one mom wants to meet?" Zoe questioned again and Avery only remained silent as she left to head into the bathroom.

Once she was inside, she shut the door behind her and locked it. Laying her clothes down before unfolding the letter and reading what Paisley had written.

My Dearest Avery,

Pathetic opener I know but forgive me I wanted to sound like one of those people in those books you read at the record store when you think I'm not looking. I think the first time I saw you, you were reading Pride and Prejudice instead of actually drawing anything.

Again probably pathetic that I am mentioning that or even that I paid attention to you so much before I decided to speak with you. But I really don't regret choosing to speak to you.

I don't regret propositioning you with sex because you took me up on that offer and it's been the best few weeks of my life. You're the moon to my sun and I just love spending time with you and I woke up kicking myself for not saying that to you last night on the balcony when you came to my hotel room.

I think that's one reason why it was so hard being away from you these last few days while stuck with Junie and Cal. They reminded me of what I miss in you. Just your simple company.

Though I guess if you have this letter it means I missed seeing you in person. I had to maybe beg Cordelia for your hotel room number and I still swear she hates me and maybe she hates you too cause she didn't sound too pleased when I mentioned you.

I guess I'll see you when you come back to Tulsa though but until then I left you with a CD I bought you this afternoon when Junie drug me around downtown Austin. It's Tegan and Sara and I own all their albums so far even this one. The song Downtown describes better how I feel about you better than I can.

Listen to it and think of me.

Your Sun, Paisley.
P.S. When you get back to Tulsa I'm literally going to drag you to my apartment and take you back to my room and fuck you for hours to make up for lost time. Then I'll buy you tons of vegan tacos to build your appetite back up.

Laughing at the last line Avery folded the letter back up and she slowly put it in the pants of the jeans she had on. Before undressing in a hurry to get a shower. Wanting to listen to that CD as soon as she could.

After she got done in the bathroom Avery left it, putting her dirty clothes in the side of her suitcase for the clothes she needed to wash when she got back home.

Then she moved to her bed, reaching for her laptop which she turned on. Opening the CD player on it and before finding her earbuds which she plugged in so that her music wouldn't disturb Zoe.

Once her earbuds were in she opened the CD case and took the CD out, slipping it into the player and closing it. Waiting until after it loaded on her Itunes to find the song Paisley had mentioned and clicking play.

A smile playing on her lips as she laid back on the bed and took in the words of the song. Took in what Paisley was trying to say to her through music.

If you're gonna get up, you might as well get up with me
If you're going downtown, I might as well be on your way
And I sit all night, I sit still all night
I won't tell one soul, I won't tell one soul
I just can't get it straight you see and oh well
That distraction inside of me, oh well
I just can't get it straight you see and oh well
Is fine by you, I am fine by you
I won't tell one soul, I won't tell one soul
If you're going downtown, take me with you
I don't care if I'm gonna get up, I'll just admit it
I only get up for you if I'm going to get up
I'll just admit it I only get up for you
And I sit all night, I sit still all night
I won't tell one soul, I won't tell one soul

Her smile soon growing even more once the song ended. Her feelings for Paisley maybe growing just a bit more because maybe she couldn't help but think or hope that Paisley maybe was starting to develop feelings for her.

That or Avery was just really delusional and wanted it to happen that bad. Which with her luck was probably the case.

But even if Paisley was developing feelings for her Avery almost was scared to try a relationship. Not just because she'd have to keep it a secret but because obviously Cordelia was still angry and upset over things and Avery hated that her best friend, the first girl she had really had a crush on was angry at her.

Because this kind of anger felt different than it usually did. Which made Avery scared that their friendship may never be the same and was Paisley worth ruining that over?

Even if she really was beginning to feel deep and scary feelings for Paisley. Feelings she hadn't had for anyone else and feelings that wanted to break to the surface yet not at the same time.

Something that Avery was afraid was love because it couldn't be love. Not yet, it was too soon. But her mom had always told her sometimes when you meet someone you just know. Then again that was coming from the woman who had met her future husband in middle school.

Chapter Text

March 2008

Sitting in her room as she worked on her school work, Avery looked up when she heard a knock on the door. Confusion building in her as she saw Cordelia standing in her doorway.

She had been back in Tulsa for a little less than a week and since then she had spent most of her time with Juniper and Paisley. Still not having told the latter yet that her mom wanted to meet her or that she was wanting to travel this summer.

Though she also still hadn't heard from her parents if she could yet. But she did know her mom had mentioned it to her dad. Had done so the day they got back and they had told Avery they'd let her know as soon as they came to a decision.

Both wanting to pray about it first before saying yes.

"Cordy?" Avery asked seeing Cordelia looking down all shy and bashful. Like she was afraid to even come into Avery's room. "You can come in I don't bite."

Cordelia laughed as she slowly walked into Avery's room, "I know," she said as she shut the door behind her. "But I guess I'm just not sure if I'm allowed in anymore," she sighed as she looked down at Avery's schoolwork before crinkling her nose. "And who does schoolwork at four in the afternoon on a Friday?"

"I do but it's math and I put math off until last always," Avery told her with a smile. "You know how much I despise it," she reminded her before dropping her smile slightly. "But you're always welcome in my room Cordy."

"Really? Even after how things went on my birthday because I was such a bitch and I wouldn't mind it if you hated me for it," Cordelia spoke as she sat down on the edge of the bed, looking at Avery who was seated across from her at the table. "I shouldn't have got angry just because you don't have a crush on me anymore."

Avery shook her head, "You weren't really a bitch. Just angry and maybe a lot hurt. I get it," she told her because in ways maybe she did.

It wasn't like she was any closer to being positive on if maybe Paisley liked her back or not. Even after the letter and the song mainly because they hadn't talked about that either. Avery kind of afraid too because what if she was let down again?

"Yeah, I was hurt," Cordelia nodded as she broke eye contact with Avery. "But I shouldn't have been so angry and lashed out at you. You can't help it if you love Paisley and after some thinking if Paisley makes you happy, truly happy then I'm going to try to not be such a pouty little bitch over it."

Laughing Avery moved from the seat she sat in at the table, enveloping Cordelia in a hug as she plowed her over, both girls falling over onto Avery's bed.

"So this means we're okay right?" Avery asked through her laughs hearing Cordelia laugh some too. "Because I really missed you Cordy."

"I missed you too Avie," Cordelia told her and that was really all Avery needed to know that they were indeed fine.

That hopefully they'd be fine for the long haul because she hated arguing with her best friend, even if she was losing both her best friends in a matter of months.

Grinning Avery pulled away from Cordelia some, "So since things are okay between us, how about going to that club with Juniper and I tonight? It's just gonna be us because Cal has to work and Paisley is doing a project for school and she thinks she'll be busy all night."

"I sort of can't," Cordelia told her as she moved to sit up again. "I have a date tonight."

"A date?" Avery asked shock evident in her voice. "Did you meet a girl who caught your eye during our estrangement Cordy?"

Cordelia rolled her eyes after Avery spoke, only playfully glaring after. "She didn't catch my eye. More like I caught hers and I agreed when she asked me out for a movie and coffee afterwards. Decided that maybe I need to try to stop wishing for something that will never happen," she shrugged her shoulders sounding wistful at the end.

Like despite her words she'd still hope deep down that things could work between them at some point in the future.

"Well," Avery said as she sat up, slinging an arm around Cordelia's shoulder. "I hope things go well for you and if you like her and she sticks around I want to meet her. No girl can date you without me approving cause you know that's just how I am over my best friend."

Cordelia again rolled her eyes, "Whatever you say mom," she muttered out teasingly. "But if I do like her enough then of course I'll introduce her to you and Juniper and hope like hell that you both like her."

"Good," Avery replied feeling a bit triumphant. "Now go, get ready to knock some girls socks off my dear Cordy," she said before kissing Cordelia's cheek softly.

Feeling Cordelia tense slightly at the gesture but she didn't say anything. Instead she stood up from the bed, giving Avery a tiny smile before leaving the room and after she left Avery turned over on the bed, hoping for Cordelia's sake the date worked.

That maybe this date would be enough to help her get over Avery. Even if Avery was certain that for awhile Cordelia would still have hopes.

Feelings were hard to turn off as Avery was learning with Paisley.

"I can't believe you wanted to come here again," Juniper spoke as she sat with Avery at the bar. "I mean your privacy got invaded here last time and you're so willing to come again."

Avery shrugged her shoulders, "I mean I can't just avoid places in Tulsa because I'll be afraid fans will see me at them," she answered knowing she had considered avoiding this place.

But then again hadn't she devoted enough time to fans last year? It could have been happenstance and maybe it wouldn't happen again.

Anyway it was just a fan and she'd be in more trouble if it was family friends that she saw or knew. So far none of them had seen her and it was good that way. Best even and anyway she had more of a chance of seeing family or friends when in other places in Tulsa.

Places she wasn't scared of going with her friends or Paisley. Heck she had kissed Paisley inside of Dilly Deli just yesterday. Without even thinking and even when she had realized well she didn't regret it.

Though she had been afraid that somehow someone she knew had seen her but luckily no one had.

Juniper made a face at that. Like she thought otherwise but then again Juniper had always hated the fan attention once her and Cordelia had started getting it.

Had even said if she were related to Isaac, Taylor, and Zac she'd probably move to a convent or something. Which Avery found funny since her parents and Zac were Orthodox Christians and they also had nuns and monks.

Her parents would probably have been over the moon if she decided to become a nun or something.

"I just think it's kind of reckless is all," Juniper finally stated proving what Avery knew. That they thought differently. "But it's your life so live it however you want, I say," she smiled before taking a sip of the alcohol she had bought with her fake id.

An id that had been made last week by one of Calliope's friends from college. Avery had also had one made but she hadn't used it.

Was too afraid to use it. Because underneath it all she was still a good girl deep down. Even if maybe her parents or her mom in specifically sometimes thought different nowadays.

Before Avery could reply back to Juniper though, the bartender came over, carrying a drink which he placed in front of Avery who gave him a confused look.

"I didn't order this," Avery told him as she shook her head. Only watching as he gave her a smile.

"The woman over there ordered this for you," the bartender spoke as he moved some, pointing to a woman who had to be in her mid to late twenties.

Avery blushed some as she gave the woman who was looking at her a bashful smile. Not used to anyone buying her drinks and Avery wasn't stupid. She had seen enough movies and read enough books to know it happened when someone caught someone's eye.

"Oh," she only muttered before the bartender walked away and after he had she looked down at her drink. Her cheeks getting hotter as her blush grew.

"Isn't that sweet," Juniper teased as she nudged Avery in the shoulder. "You should go and talk to her you know," she said and even without looking Avery could hear from her voice that she was probably smiling. "She's attractive you know."

Avery took a tiny sip of her drink, pleasantly surprised to find it was a strawberry daiquiri that she knew wasn't a virgin one. She had, had a non virgin one the year she turned sixteen. Something Zac had snuck her up to her room that Thanksgiving as well as letting her smoke with him for the first time out on the little semi balcony of what had used to be his room but was now Mac's.

"She's older than me," Avery stated as she finally looked back up at Juniper.

Juniper only narrowed her eyes, "Yes and Paisley is older than you too but you still have sex with her," she said and okay she did have a point.

But well it was the mention of Paisley that was maybe the real issue. Did Avery really want to flirt with other women? Even though she did have permission from Paisley that she could sleep with other women since they were only friends with benefits.

"Paisley isn't that much older and she knows my age. Is okay that I'm seventeen and will be eighteen this year," Avery whispered so that the bartender wouldn't hear them. "Not to mention like you said I have sex with Paisley."

"But it's only sex Ave," Juniper said as she kept her face neutral. "You told me you two were just friends with benefits so it wouldn't be wrong to have sex with other women. Anyway Cal is pretty sure Paisley is having sex with her ex Ellery again. I mean Ellery is the one helping her with that project she has tonight and Cal think it's because Ellery is trying to get her back for good."

Going silent at Juniper's words, Avery took an even bigger drink of the strawberry daiquiri that had been ordered for her.

Her mind going to Ellery and how of course she knew Ellery was still in Paisley's life. Had known it since last month when she saw them dancing in this very club but of course she hadn't asked about Ellery since then. Not wanting to know if Paisley was indeed sleeping with an ex who Calliope said was toxic for her.

Not really wanting to know if Paisley was sleeping with anyone else besides her but the knowledge that she may have been. Well it hurt Avery and made something inside of her burn. Something that hadn't happened before but was happening now.

Especially as her mind conjured up images of Ellery and Paisley in bed at this very moment in her apartment. Making love in the same places that Avery had just been on Thursday afternoon when she had went back to Paisley's after their lunch at Dilly Deli.

Even with the images and the burning feeling inside of her though, Avery knew she couldn't blame Paisley if she were sleeping with Ellery again. Minus the fact that she was toxic, she was attractive, way more so than Avery thought she was and maybe in the end Ellery was who Paisley wanted.

Maybe despite being with Avery, Ellery was Paisley's eventual happy ending and one day Paisley would call their whole arrangement off to be with Ellery again for good and those thoughts, they were enough to give Avery the strength to finish her drink before standing up.

Deciding to take Juniper's advice and walk over and get to know the woman who had bought her a drink because despite looking a bit older than Avery she was attractive. Very attractive and maybe Avery could see herself having sex with this woman by the end of the night.

Could forget for a few hours that the woman wasn't Paisley long enough to get an orgasm from the whole thing and orgasms were always good.

Thirty minutes after going to talk to the woman, Avery smiled as she found herself out on the dance floor with the woman who she now knew was named Carol. A twenty-five year old who was in her last year of college to become a teacher to first graders.

As well as knowing that Carol had found her pretty from the moment she saw her tonight and that she had hoped by ordering her a drink that they could get to know each other a bit better.

Which they sort of had, except maybe Avery had fudged the truth on her age. Saying she was already twenty-one instead of the seventeen she was because surely if Carol had known her real age their conversation would have ended much sooner and maybe Avery needed it or so she told herself.

Was hoping for a way to forget the burning she still had when she thought of Ellery and Paisley together right now.

"You know Avery," Carol smiled as she let her arms wrap around Avery's waist which made Avery feel a bit nervous. "You really are attractive and I'm surprised someone hasn't snatched you up already as their own," she giggled slightly.

Her giggle reminding Avery of most of the cheerleaders she knew. Which maybe Carol had been a cheerleader in high school.

Natalie had been one back in her high school days and she also had the same giggle as Carol. Though Avery was sure Kate was the only cheerleader who didn't have that giggle.

"Guess I'm just not good enough for anyone yet," Avery stated feeling like maybe there was some truth to it.

Then again Cordelia did like her but of course it was her luck that crush had died when she developed feelings for Paisley who was just confusing her and it was her own fault. She had went into things so willingly and fell so hard when she had been told not too.

Carol only giggled again, "Now that has to be a lie if I've ever heard one," she whispered her face leaning ever so closely. "An attractive girl such as yourself. Someone who seems to have their head on their shoulders and knows one day she wants a career in art," she sighed her words showing that she had been listening when Avery confessed her future dreams.

"Any woman would be stupid to pass on a chance to have you," Carol finished her lips connecting with Avery's when she had and Avery wasn't surprised by the kiss.

Not when Carol's face had been getting closer and closer. But she was surprised at how quick she had responded to the kiss.

Carol's lips much different than how Paisley's felt against hers. Carol's lips were much smoother, probably going out of her way to take care of her facial features because she seemed much more feminine than Paisley was. Which was another reason Avery suspected Carol may have been a cheerleader in high school.

The kissing only came to an end when they both heard someone loudly clearing their throat and when she had pulled away from Carol it took Avery a few minutes to come to the realization that a very pissed off looking Paisley was standing in front of them.

Her arms crossed over her chest as her glare was mostly on Carol but occasionally she'd look at Avery with it and Avery was sure if looks could kill she'd be dead. Dead or really close to death.

Chapter Text

March 2008

Before Avery could say anything to Paisley though, Paisley only heaved a sigh before uncrossing her arms and shaking her head.

"You didn't have to stop swapping spit just because I cleared my throat," she spoke sounding angry. A tone that Avery hadn't heard from her before and again before Avery could say anything Paisley turned quickly, leaving the dance floor and Avery just looked back at Carol.

Giving her an apologetic smile before moving to go after Paisley even if maybe she should have stayed and tried to explain things to Carol. But truth be told she wasn't sure how to do that.

Not when she wasn't entirely sure where she stood with Paisley feelings wise on Paisley's end. Though the reaction tonight sure seemed like one of a jealous lover and again Avery had some hope that Paisley could like her like Avery did her.

Her mind being quick though to dash those dreams and remind her of Ellery and how Paisley was sleeping with her again probably though.

"Paisley," Avery spoke once both she and Paisley had made it outside and she was close enough that maybe the other girl could hear her. "Please stop rage walking," she muttered out when Paisley picked up her pace after Avery had said her name.

Paisley seemed to stop at that as she turned on her heel and faced Avery, the glare still ever present on her face.

"I'm not rage walking," she defended as she crossed her arms over her chest again. "I'm just very gay, very pissed off and a bit short so I'm making my legs move faster."

Rolling her eyes at that Avery now crossed her arms too, "Which is basically rage walking," she defended with a shake of her head. "You're rage walking and you're pissed off and I just want to know why?" she asked feeling a bit nervous at whatever would come out of Paisley's mouth.

"Why are you angry at me for?" she asked another question this time her voice cracking slightly as a few tears threatened to come out and go down her cheeks.

Paisley heaved a sigh as she looked down and away from Avery's gaze, "I'm not angry at you," she spoke her voice sounding so soft. "I'm just angry at myself okay?"

"Angry at yourself?" Avery asked confusion laced in her words. "Why are you angry at yourself?"

"Because I fell for you Avery," Paisley blurted out in a huff as she looked back up at Avery. "I fell for you knowing that I shouldn't and it hurt to see you in there kissing someone who wasn't me and I know it's my fault. I mean it's not like we've really talked about my feelings for you since I gave you that letter and told you to listen to that song and we should have because if we had I wouldn't have had to see you kissing a girl who wasn't me."

Listening to Paisley as she ranted, Avery stayed silent as she took in her words. Her heart beating a tiny bit faster at the revelation that Paisley did indeed have feelings for her too.

That she felt the same way as Avery and it wasn't just one sided because Avery as bad as it was to think wasn't sure she could be like Cordelia. She couldn't just stand by and happily take it if the person she liked didn't have feelings for her too.

She wasn't that strong which she did have to give Cordelia credit for being that strong and for trying to still be her friend and also to date girls who weren't Avery.

"But Cal thinks you're sleeping with Ellery again and Junie said that Ellery was helping you with that project tonight," Avery spoke before she could even stop herself.

Hating that she had to bring up a subject that made her jealous. But she wasn't stupid just because Paisley had feelings for her and didn't want to see her kissing someone else didn't mean that she wasn't doing the same.

People after all could be hypocrites.

Paisley's eyebrows knitted at that as she shook her head, "I'm not sleeping with Elle again," she said as she laughed slightly like the idea was funny to her. "Yeah she did help me tonight and yeah she wants to get back with me but I don't want her. It's not her that I have feelings for anymore and I haven't sleep with anyone since I started sleeping with you."

Avery couldn't help but smile at that knowledge, "Really?" she asked with a bit of glee in her voice even if they hadn't resolved Paisley's feelings over Avery kissing Carol.

"Really," Paisley responded her voice coming out soft. "I'm head over heels gone for you Avery Hanson and I don't think any girl could do for me right now," she said as she stepped a bit closer to Avery. "I guess I'm just not sure the same could be said for you too since you know you were kissing someone else and that's why I'm angry. I went and fell without even knowing if you felt the same. Even told you not to fall for me."

"But I do like you," Avery confessed as she kept her smile. "I only even talked to Carol and let her kiss me because I was jealous over the possibility of you and Ellery."

Again Paisley laughed at that, "Well there is no me and Ellery and there never will be again," she told her as she came even closer to Avery and even though Paisley was shorter than her, Paisley cupped both of Avery's cheeks with her hand.

Avery's eyes fluttering shut briefly at the contact.

"I only want you right now Hanson," Paisley smiled and as Avery opened her eyes she saw Paisley leaning in for a kiss.

A kiss that Avery returned without even caring that they were on a sidewalk in the middle of downtown Tulsa and could be spotted by anyone.

Pouting when Paisley pulled away, Avery only looked at her wishing she hadn't though she knew in all likelihood they couldn't have stood there all night kissing even if the idea wasn't so bad to her.

"Come home with me," Paisley spoke as she kept her hands on Avery's cheek. "Want to be with you all night," she added on her voice going all low almost in a bedroom like fashion which matched the bedroom eyes she was giving Avery right now.

Avery felt herself blush before chewing her lip because she knew if she stayed out all night again she'd get in trouble. All she had told her parents was that she was going out with Juniper for the night. She hadn't asked to stay out and she knew from last time she pulled the staying out and not telling her parents how well her mom had taken it.

But the offer and Paisley were both oh so tempting and she really didn't want to say no.

"Okay," Avery agreed knowing there probably would be hell to pay when she went home tomorrow but right now hell be damned.

She'd take it if it meant spending more time with Paisley.

Paisley smiled at Avery's words, leaning in to kiss her briefly before pulling away and this time when she did she moved her hands off Avery's cheek. Letting one of her hands link with Avery's as she lead the way to her car. Avery knowing that tomorrow she'd have to have Paisley drive her back down this way so she could get her own car and go home.

Following Paisley inside of her apartment, Avery stayed silent as Paisley turned on the lights. A new weird feeling building inside her as she realized tonight would be the first time they'd be intimate with each other since admitting their feelings and that made Avery nervous.

Feeling a whole new level of vulnerable because she had never truly felt this way for anyone. Paisley was the first girl that she truly loved. The first person that she truly loved and a part of her knew with this knowledge came the knowledge that Paisley could hurt her in the end or she could hurt Paisley and she didn't want that.

But at the same time she wouldn't change anything because despite still not coming out to her family she felt at her happiest. For the first time in a long time she was happy all because she was in love for the first time.

Words that scared her because maybe somehow they were moving too fast. Had only known each other a month.

"You okay Hanson?" Paisley asked as she came up behind Avery, wrapping her arms around Avery's waist. "You've been silent ever since we left the club."

Avery smiled as she turned in Paisley's arms, "I'm just thinking," she said deciding to be honest. "I mean do you think we're moving too fast?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. "We've only known each other for a month."

Paisley pursed her lips slightly, "I mean we had sex the first day we talked so I don't think fast is unusual for us here Avery. But sometimes when you know, you just know."

Smiling more Avery nodded not even finding it weird that Paisley had just quoted what her mom said to her all the time. Heck maybe it made her feel a bit more at ease as well as have hopes that if she ever came out to her family that her mom would be happy for her.

Because Avery was sure if she could get past the gay thing then she'd like Paisley. Her mom had always said she wanted someone who made her kids happy even if they also had to meet other standards that her mom selfishly held onto and Paisley made her happy.

Paisley made her beyond happy and she just wanted her mom to meet her and fall in love with her and now would have been the perfect time to tell Paisley about her mom wanting to meet her. But Avery didn't mention it. Instead she leaned in and kissed her.

The kiss a lot more passionate than the ones they had shared on the sidewalk and one in which they somehow without falling down made their way to Paisley's bedroom.

A room that was becoming like a second bedroom to Avery as often as she was in it nowadays.

Pulling away from the kiss once she had hit the bed, Avery looked up at Paisley before slowly pushing up her shirt, "I love you clothed but I think I want you naked right now," she spoke with a smirk on her lips. "Want you all naked and against me."

"Of course you do babe," Paisley replied as she helped her take off her shirt and after it was gone Paisley soon removed Avery's shirt too as she winked at her. "Think I want you naked right now too," she said as she leaned down to kiss Avery quickly. "Because you know as much as I loved you clothed you being naked makes it easier for me to be against you and all."

Laughing Avery kissed Paisley again and this time as they kissed they took each other's remaining clothes off until they were both naked. Paisley's hand soon slipping between Avery's legs and causing Avery to moan out loudly into the kiss.

"Fuck," Avery muttered as she pulled away from the kiss when she felt one of Paisley's fingers slip so effortlessly inside of her. Mainly because she was already so turned on.

The new feeling to tonight making her more heightened and aware of things even in the sexual department.

"Yeah, is that what you want Avery?" Paisley asked her teasingly as she began to move her finger in and out of Avery at a slow and very tortuous rate in Avery's opinion. "You want me to fuck you?" she asked before leaning in and leaving a light kiss on Avery's cheek.

Nodding her head Avery let her eyes fall shut as her hips began to match Paisley's movements with her finger. Her body needing much more friction than what she was getting.

"I didn't hear you Avery," Paisley spoke again as she added a second finger inside of Avery and Avery shut her eyes tighter. "Do you want me to fuck you?"

"Please," Avery whimpered as she opened her eyes, looking up at Paisley hoping she didn't look as desperate as she had sounded.

Though if she did, Paisley didn't let her know. Instead she slipped her fingers out of Avery which caused Avery to whimper.

"Shush," Paisley stated as she put a finger against Avery's lips to silence her. "Want to try something new with you tonight. Going to need to give me a few minutes."

Avery nodded her head as she took in Paisley's words. Her eyebrows raising when Paisley moved from the bed slowly. Going over to her dresser drawers and opening the top one, rummaging through it for a few minutes and maybe Avery wouldn't complain about that.

No matter how turned on she was and how much she wanted relief because the view of Paisley's ass was nice and maybe it was that knowledge that made Avery move some on the bed. Reaching over to the nightstand where Paisley kept her Polaroid camera.

Not the camera she used for when she wanted to take professional pictures but one she kept just when she wanted a random picture for fun and after it was turned on, Avery snapped a picture.

Giving Paisley an innocent smile when she turned at the sound of it, the picture coming out at the same time almost that she had turned around.

"I know you didn't just take a picture of my ass," Paisley stated as she pulled whatever she had been looking for out of the drawer.

Avery gave her another innocent smile, "I can't lie and say I didn't because I did," she said as she pulled the picture out and laid the camera back down.

Shaking the picture some until it started to become clear and she just smiled at it, "Think I may even take this one home with me and put it in my shoe box of mementos," she stated as she laid the picture down beside the camera.

Her eyes landing on what was in Paisley's hand. A bottle of lube as well as a strap on.

Avery never really having seen a strap on in person. Just in a few short porn clips that she had been watching over the last month when she had been alone at night in her room and she needed to get off.

Paisley who had followed her line of sight, smirked slightly, "You said you wanted me to fuck you," she told her and yeah Avery had said that but for some reason her brain hadn't, had a dildo in mind when she thought of being fucked by Paisley.

Though maybe she should have had it on her mind.

"I did," Avery confirmed as she watched Paisley put the strap on, on. "I've just never you know had one used on me before. Just like I've never used a dildo before either or any sex toy really," she admitted knowing that compared to Paisley she was probably very innocent when it came to most things.

But then again she lived in a house with tons of people and very religious parents. How could she even fathom hiding a sex toy in the house? The thought of hiding the picture of Paisley was already confusing enough but she was going to try it anyway because she really did like that picture.

Paisley smirked more as she moved back onto the bed, leaning in to kiss Avery softly on the lips. "I know," she spoke after pulling away. "I'll make sure I don't hurt you too much," she reassured her and Avery knew what she was talking about.

Besides fingers Avery had really had nothing else inside of her before and it could potentially hurt if she hadn't fully popped her cherry.

She'd really be losing her virginity via a strap on.

"O...okay," Avery spoke her voice catching as she chewed her lip again, watching as Paisley soon applied some lube to the the fake cock part of the dildo. A part of Avery praying to whatever god she could that Paisley applied enough lube.

Avery hating to admit that she was scared of the pain even if usually pain was something she liked, like when she got bit or when Paisley sometimes would pull on her hair when she went down on her. But the thought of this pain really did make her nervous.

After Paisley had applied the lube, Avery leaned in to kiss her. Pulling her back down over her as the kiss deepened and maybe she also just wanted to feel Paisley close before Paisley slid inside of her. Wanting to know that she was close and be reassured again that Paisley wouldn't hurt her.

She did trust that at least. Trusted that the girl who she was in love with wouldn't hurt her if she said she wouldn't. It was just nice to have that reassurance.

As they kissed, Avery bit down on Paisley's lips as she felt her slip inside. Her nails instantly gripping onto the skin of Paisley's back as a bit of pain hit her.

Not much pain but enough that she had to tighten her grip on Paisley and maybe she had tensed up some.

"You're okay Hanson," Paisley whispered into the kiss as she stayed still for a bit. Only moving once Avery had loosened her grip some and as she began to move Avery let her eyes fall shut.

The pain slowly giving way to pleasure. A different kind of pleasure than when Paisley used her fingers or her tongue or even when she rubbed her pussy against Avery's. A pleasure that Avery found she liked more than she had expected.

Smiling some she opened her eyes and looked up at Paisley as he hips began to match Paisley's movements. Their eyes locking and Avery felt her heart flutter some when Paisley smiled too.

"I love you," Avery spoke before she could even stop herself. Hoping that it wasn't too soon to say that but well it felt right in the moment at least.

"I love you too," Paisley replied and after she had spoken she leaned in to kiss Avery.

Their lips moving together softly as Avery brought Paisley just a bit closer to her. Liking the closeness of her, liking having her closer than anyone else had ever been before.

Almost wishing maybe a bit foolishly that it could always be them forever. That she'd be like her parents and marry the first person that she dated. Even if she knew the odds weren't in her favor...either of their favors anyway.

But for now she'd let herself picture it. Let herself imagine her and Paisley forever, one day getting married if gay marriage ever became legal or if not just being life partners and growing old together. Having babies somehow and a pet.

Owning their own house and both having jobs that centered on what they loved to do. Avery with her painting and Paisley with her photography.

Which was probably way too fluffy to be thinking of during sex yet here she was thinking about it and the more she did the closer she got to her orgasm. That familiar feeling building up inside of her slowly, her nails going a bit deeper into Paisley's back.

Building up until she finally went over the edge. Her moans coming out loud as she broke away from the kiss and Avery was half sure that the upstairs neighbor named Bob who Paisley had told her about the first time they hooked up had heard her.

Would probably hate Paisley more than he already did. But Avery truly couldn't help being loud because fuck her orgasm had felt so good but maybe not as good as the one she got when they were scissoring because the feelings of their pussies rubbing together was way better than a fake plastic cock inside of her could ever be.

Feeling Paisley pull out of her as she fell on the bed beside Avery both girls just laid there on the bed, catching their breath for a bit.

Though once they had Avery turned over, propping herself up on her arm, her eyes falling to the strap on that Paisley still wore.

"Take that off Pai," Avery spoke half whining as she leaned in to kiss Paisley's neck softly. "I really really want to eat you out right now and make you moan as loud as I did."

Paisley only laughed though goosebumps formed on her skin under Avery's kisses. "Aren't you being eager right now," she teased. "Figured you'd be tired and not wanting to move after officially losing your virginity."

"I am tired but I want to taste you and make you feel as good as you made me feel," Avery sighed as she kissed Paisley's neck some more. "I do quite like the taste of you," she revealed before slowly biting on Paisley's neck.

Getting a tiny moan out of Paisley before Paisley gave her what she wanted. Took the strap on off so that Avery could eat her pussy.

Yawning as she curled into Paisley's arm which was wrapped around her, Avery let her arms rest over Paisley's. Both girls now well and truly spent and tired. Though neither were asleep just yet. They were just laying in the bed cuddling while naked.

Because they were way too lazy and tired to get dressed.

"Ellery was awful to me," Paisley spoke which made Avery turn her head slightly to look at her. "Treated me like shit and always accused me of cheating on her. Whether it be with someone I spoke too once or Calliope. I was just always cheating somehow in her mind. Got to the point I couldn't even go out anywhere without her and if I did she'd feel the constant need to check my phone just to make sure I wasn't keeping shit from her. In the end it turned out she was the one cheating but somehow she found a way to blame me. I didn't love her enough or make her feel valued enough. It was then that I broke up with her and I know I shouldn't still be friends with her but she makes it so hard to cut ties."

Nodding her head Avery couldn't help but frown, "Do you want to cut ties with her?"

"Of course I do but like I said she makes it hard," Paisley sighed as if she felt conflicted and maybe she would. After all Ellery was probably the first girl she had loved. "I certainly don't want her back because I learned the first time I was with her and I just...I wanted you to know that."

Avery kept her frown as she held onto Paisley's arms a bit tighter, "I'm glad you told me," she said and she was glad that Paisley had opened up to her.

Let her in slightly and told her about her and Ellery and maybe now would again be a good time to mention about her parents wanting to meet Paisley or even mention her maybe traveling this summer but instead she chose to stay silent.

Deciding that she'd mention one or the other or both when they were awake tomorrow.

Paisley only hmmed at that before kissing the back of Avery's neck, "Night Avery," she muttered out softly.

"Night Paisley," Avery said as she yawned again, her eyes fluttering shut as she let herself listen to Paisley's breathing which soon lulled her to sleep.

That and maybe the fact that she just felt so safe and secure in Paisley's arms. Like it was where she was meant to be for now.

Chapter Text

March 2008

Waking the next morning to the smell of food cooking, Avery opened her eyes slowly. Having to blink several times before she realized that she was in Paisley's bed.

Last night coming to her all at once as a sleepy smile played on her lips. Remembering how both she and Paisley had confessed their feelings and then how they had made love. Paisley taking her virginity fully last night and then telling her about Ellery.

Why things hadn't worked out with her and why she wouldn't go back no matter how much Ellery wanted her either.

Sitting up slowly Avery's eyes also landed on the Polaroid she had taken last night of Paisley facing away with her and the perfect view of her ass. Making a mental note to herself to take it before she left and went back home because she really did truly want to keep that picture.

Just like she had kept the letter and put it away in a shoe box. It was the only thing she could do because she couldn't publicly put things out in her room that had to do with her relationship with Paisley. Knowing her mom or anyone else could see them and ask questions.

Which made Avery sad but at the same time she knew she also still wasn't ready to come out. Not when she was still so afraid of her family's reaction and she wasn't yet eighteen. Maybe once she was eighteen she'd tell them because then she'd be a legal adult and they couldn't try to run her life.

Tell her what to do with her choices but then again they probably would. Taylor had been around that age when he had gotten Natalie pregnant and then been forced or well maybe coerced into marrying her and maybe now a part of Avery finally understood what Zac meant when he told her she'd understand everything when she was older.

She was older now and here she was making decisions that weren't dumb but some that she knew maybe others would consider that way. Ask her why she had been so reckless but she was in love and maybe Taylor had been in love with Natalie.

Even if they had been off and on during their relationship before the pregnancy.

Shaking her head Avery came out of her thoughts and slipped out of bed. Getting dressed in a hurry but before she could leave the room a picture on the wall caught her eye. It was the same picture from Paisley's myspace. The one of Avery in the sun. The one she had literally titled my moon in the sunlight and Avery wasn't sure how but she hadn't noticed it until now.

Another smile playing on her lips because hadn't she told Juniper once that this was one of the things she wanted. To be a picture on Paisley's wall and she was.

Paisley had put her picture on the wall along with other pictures that she had taken that she liked well enough to hang up in her room.

Turning to leave the room finally, Avery found Paisley in the kitchen standing over the stove. Her eyes looking Paisley over liking how she looked dressed in her pajama shorts and a flannel button down shirt that was long. Long enough that it almost covered her shorts.

"You just going to stand there looking at me or?" Paisley asked as she turned to look at Avery. A hint of playfulness in her eyes.

Avery laughed as she walked farther into the kitchen, "How'd you even know I was up?" she questioned as she went to the stove seeing that Paisley was making pancakes.

Probably gluten free and vegan somehow because Paisley was way more health conscience than Avery was. All of Avery's friends were just like they were way more liberal too as Paisley had made it known already that she'd be voting for anyone who wasn't a republican in the elections this year.

Avery though just hadn't truly made a decision where she stood political view wise. Knowing where most of her family already stood. A good majority of them were conservative and clung to that like it was a safety net. The same as they clung to their religion as well.

"I could hear you walking down the hall. Then I felt your eyes on me," Paisley explained before leaning in to peck Avery on the lips. "I'm almost done making breakfast. I mean if you can stay or you can go if you need to call a cab and get your car from where you parked it last night so that you can go home."

"I should probably go home," Avery spoke knowing it was what she should do. "But when have I ever done what I should?" she asked as she pecked Paisley's lips again. "I think I'll stay for breakfast then leave after," she said knowing that she was also trying to delay the inevitable.

Her getting in trouble when she went home and had to face her parents.

Paisley smiled at that, "I was hoping you would. I even made coffee for you and we both know how much I hate coffee."

Avery laughed some as she nodded her head, "You do hate coffee so I feel really special that you made coffee just for me."

"Yeah well you're the only reason I started buying it too," Paisley told her and Avery couldn't help but like that information.

Knowing that Paisley only even bought the coffee for her but she didn't say that out loud. Instead she just moved to get a mug down from the cabinet and once she had it, she went to the coffee pot. Quickly fixing her cup of coffee the way she liked it.

As well as watching Paisley from the corner of her eye as Paisley moved around, fixing both their plates once she was done and taking both to the table.

Finishing up fixing her coffee Avery walked to the table and sat down across from Paisley. Deciding to speak only after she had taken a drink of her coffee and got some caffeine in her system.

"So," Avery began as she swallowed the coffee. "I kind of wanted to talk to you about something and I'm not sure how you're going to like it," she said feeling a bit nervous but she knew she needed to mention before her mom hounded her on wanting to meet her unknown friend again.

"You're not going to end things with me already are you Hanson?" Paisley asked rather teasingly though her facial features showed she was interested in whatever it was Avery had to say. As well as her leaning in some even after she had taken a bit of her pancake.

Avery shook her head as she took another sip of her coffee as well as taking a tiny bite of her own pancake. Wanting to now delay this talk though she knew it needed to happen.

"My mom wants to meet you," Avery finally confessed. "Demanded as much in Texas last week when we got into an argument and I'm afraid if she doesn't meet you then she'll ground me until I'm eighteen. Her threat to even get me to agree to have you meet her."

Paisley nodded her head slowly a few times, remaining silent after Avery had spoken. Avery feeling afraid of what she'd said. That Paisley would freak out on her or something.

"And you're just now telling me this?" Paisley asked as she raised an eyebrow. "You couldn't have told me sooner like right after you got back from Texas?"

"I just I guess I was afraid and it never felt like the right time to bring it up," Avery defended knowing it was nerves more so than never being the right time. "I was afraid you'd freak out or something you know? I mean I might if I knew my girlfriend's mom wanted to meet me or else," she spoke not even realizing she had said girlfriend until the word had slipped out of her mouth so casually.

"Girlfriend," Paisley repeated before smiling softly as she reached for the orange juice she had fixed herself. Taking a drink of it. "I like the sound of that oddly and I never thought I would like it again," she admitted with a tiny smile. "But on the subject of your mom I wouldn't have freaked out like you said in Texas or explained really your mom is kind of a bitch. I get her threatening wanting to meet me but I didn't even know she knew of me specifically."

Avery took another tiny bite of her food, "Well not you specifically just the mystery friend that I stayed with in February," she said as she felt herself blushing as she looked away from Paisley. "She doesn't like it that I have a friend she doesn't know about."

"Ah," Paisley muttered as if she had, had a sudden epiphany on something. "So she wants to meet me to see if I meet her standards and if I don't then I'm gone from her daughter's life. That's how it is right?" she questioned and yeah maybe she had, had an epiphany because deep down Avery had a feeling that was what her mom had in mind.

To meet Paisley and if she didn't like her find a way to end their friendship except her mom had no clue that their friendship went much deeper than that. That they were together as more than just friends...they were girlfriends it seemed.

Had became that without them even realizing until it had already happened.

Nodding her head Avery took a long sip of her coffee to keep from verbally answering for a bit. "Yeah, that's how it is probably going to be," she finally spoke with a tiny frown.

Unsure now with that out of the way how things would go between them. If she'd still be rational or if she'd now get angry or something.

"And what if she doesn't like me and wants me out of your life Avery?" Paisley questioned with a raised eyebrow. "I mean it's a possibility and I don't look like Juniper or Cordelia. It's going to be harder to pass me off as a straight friend so what happens if she doesn't like me?"

Avery sighed softly because deep down she knew it was a possibility. A major one because Paisley did have a point. There was no denying that she looked anything but gay which she was. It was sort of how at times Taylor looked gay but then again he wasn't or she didn't think so anyway so maybe she could use that if her mom tried that argument.

Even if it would be a lie.

"I'm not going to cut you out of my life," Avery spoke sounding more confident than maybe she felt. The only time she had really even stood up to her mom was in Austin last week and even then she had ran and apologized by the end of the day.

She just still prided herself on being her parents good child and wanted so much to be what they wanted her to be. Knowing deep down she was far from it.

Paisley gave out an almost bitter laugh at that, "You say that now but I know people like your mom," she spoke with a sad tone to her voice. "I mean why do you think I don't have anything to do with my own family. They are people like your mom and I got kicked out of my house at sixteen," she admitted and Avery frowned because she hadn't known that.

Paisley never really talked about her family and now Avery guessed she knew why. But hearing that made her more nervous than ever about admitting the truth of her sexuality to her family.

"But if your mom wants to meet me then I guess that can be arranged," Paisley finally conceded. "Though the only days I have available this coming week are tomorrow and Tuesday. Every other day is filled with work or school stuff."

"I can bring it up to my mom when I get back home," Avery said feeling happy that Paisley had at least agreed. Now though she was nervous on what her mom would think of Paisley. "I'm sure my mom can find a way to work with one of those days," she smiled though it didn't quite reach her eyes.

A part of her worried for whatever day it would be and what would go down. Hoping that maybe her mom would like Paisley and see that she wasn't a bad person even if she was able to figure out Paisley's sexuality.

Chapter Text

March 2008

Arriving home Avery slowly stepped inside almost cautiously. Like she was waiting for a bomb to explode or something.

Deep down knowing that, that wouldn't happen but it did feel like it. Especially after having stayed out all night without telling her parents where she was.

But the farther Avery got into the house without seeing her siblings or her parents she began to let her guard down too much. The uneasy feeling subsiding slightly and of course she should have known she wouldn't be in the clear because the moment she let her guard down she heard someone clearing their throat and she turned, seeing her mom standing in the kitchen with her arms crossed over her chest and a glare set on her face,

Avery swallowing hard as she did her best to throw an innocent smile on her face. Hoping that somehow it would work in her interest in the end.

"Mom.." Avery started watching as her mom shook her head.

"Don't even try to sweet talk me Avery," Diana interjected as she kept her arms crossed. "You did it again. Not coming home and I can take one guess where you were since I called Juniper's and her mom said you weren't there at all. You were with that friend we haven't met yet."

Looking away from her mom Avery once again swallowed hard, "I was with her," she confirmed with a nod of her head as she chewed on her lip. "She just showed up at the club where Juniper and I were at and she asked me to stay with her last night and I said yes."

Diana let out a tiny sigh, "And you couldn't have called and asked if that was okay?"

"I knew what you'd say," Avery spoke up as she let her gaze go back to her mom. "You'd say no because you don't know her but I swear she's a good person."

"She may be a good person but right now she doesn't seem like one to me Avery Laurel Hanson. The way she convinces you to just stay with her without even consulting your parents," Diana retorted as she stepped a bit closer to Avery. "I'm sorry to say this but your dad and I had a talk last night and you are not to see this new friend of yours until we meet her."

Avery rolled her eyes slightly knowing in the end her mom had probably made the decision and her dad had just went along with it. Like he always did everything she said.

"I told her you wanted to meet her," Avery said as she crossed her own arms over her chest now. "She agreed and she's available to meet you tomorrow or Tuesday. She wants to meet you," she lied knowing that it was best that way.

To just let her mom think this is what Paisley wanted and that Avery hadn't, had to twist her arm in anyway or the other.

Diana paused at that, uncrossing her arms as she stood there for the longest time eyeing Avery. Like she hadn't expected her to actually have mentioned anything to Paisley and maybe she hadn't. Maybe she had thought Avery would never tell the friend she didn't know so she could casually just try to end the friendship.

"Tomorrow night sounds good," Diana finally nodded her head. "She can come for dinner and meet your father and I."

Avery smiled at her mom's words though she still had a sense of dread, "She's vegetarian and gluten free," she added on. "Just so you know to fix something that maybe she can eat."

"You know I always accommodate guests Avie," Diana smiled and yeah, Avery did know she did. Just like she always tended to make way too much food when people came over. "Now go upstairs and get ready for Kate's baby shower. We have to be at Janine's house in an hour," she added on referring to the woman from the church that her family went to who was throwing the baby shower for Kate.

Nodding her head Avery headed upstairs. Almost wishing she could find a way out of the baby shower because the last thing she wanted was to be stuck with a bunch of women she didn't know. Even if her sisters and her mom and two of her sister-in-laws would be there.

Natalie would have been there but she had gone on some last minute trip with Taylor to god knew where. So Pam had decided to go in Natalie's place.

Sitting on a chair on Janine's back porch Avery sighed softly as she turned her iPod up, adjusting her earbuds in her ears and she was almost thankful she had brought them along with her. Because she had been hoping she'd find a way to sneak off and she had.

Doing so during one of the many games that had been planned. Just needing a moment away from everyone. That and maybe she had overheard a conversation between her mom and another church friend named Rhonda who also knew the Wrights.

Had heard Rhonda tell her mom that she had seen Jeremy the other day out in downtown Tulsa with some boy who he was acting particularly really friendly with. Almost implying that they were together without even implying. Though of course her mom had dismissed it because he was supposedly still dating Avery even if they hadn't really hung out at all since the double date last month.

Which maybe they should rectify if they wanted to keep the dating rouse up but then again now that she was with Paisley and Jeremy had obviously found someone maybe they should just end it. She'd have to find a way to ask Jeremy.

Not right now though, instead she'd much rather just drown in her music. Another Tegan and Sara song and forget the conversation she had heard. Forget that even while Tulsa was a sizable small city that in the end it seemed like everyone knew each other and just how lucky she was that she hadn't been caught with Paisley in public yet by anyone who knew her parents.

Especially last night when they had kissed in the middle of the sidewalk.

It had been foolish and stupid even if at the moment it had felt right. Even if it had lead to good things like sex at her apartment after.

Coming out of her thoughts though when she saw someone out of the corner of her eye sit down in the seat beside her, Avery turned her head seeing Kate.

Almost surprised that Kate had found a way to sneak out of her own baby shower and also surprised in general that she had because today was one of the lucky days she was the center of attention. Something that maybe at times it seemed she strived for with her mom especially when Natalie somehow always found ways to be that center of attention.

Turning her iPod off Avery took out one of her earbuds as she she kept her gaze on Kate. "Shouldn't you be inside?"

"Probably," Kate nodded her head as she gave Avery a small smile. "But I wanted to see how you were doing? You kind of remind me of Zac you know? When something's wrong you run off and hide away from everyone else."

"I don't run off and..." Avery started but stopped as she looked around her. Realizing that maybe Kate had a point and she did run off and hide. "Okay so maybe you have a tiny little point and I do. But I'm fine."

Kate laughed at that a hand coming to rest on her stomach, "You and Zac are also terrible liars Avie," she told her with a shake of her head. "So what's wrong?"

Avery chewed on her lip as she looked away from Kate, her eyes going to look at the white picket fence that wrapped around most of Janine's back yard. "Just things have been weird lately for me. Things are changing in my life and my friend group and some changes...they're a lot emotionally," she sighed with a frown not even sure she was making sense. "They're also taking a toll on my relationship with my mom. I think we've begun to argue more than we usually do."

"And you don't like that it's taking a toll on your relationship with your mom?" Kate questioned as she gave Avery a curious look. "I mean according to my dear husband you are one of the better children even if maybe he has helped you do some questionable things in the past," she winked playfully and of course Kate would know about the weed and the underage drinking.

Zac it seemed sometimes told his wife everything or almost everything. After all didn't everyone keep some things to themselves even when in relationships?

Avery again chewed on her lip knowing she should say that she didn't like it but at the same time it didn't tear her up. It just made her angry how much her mom didn't seem to want to cut the cord and seemed to be tightening it more and more the closer she reached eighteen.

"I just wish she'd give me more freedom," Avery admitted as she looked at Kate almost guilty. "It feels like the closer I get to eighteen the more freedoms I lose."

Kate paused as if she was considering how to reply back, "Well I think every parent has a phase like that Avie. Not to mention you Hanson's seem to get more stubborn as you age," she teased with a light laugh. "But at least you will be eighteen soon and then she can't really take any of your freedoms away which probably scares her since after you she only has two more kids to get to eighteen then she loses all her rights to do anything to anyone that would be controlling and let's be honest you and I both know your mom can be at times but she wouldn't be her if she wasn't."

"You have a point I guess," Avery spoke her voice coming out soft.

"I always have a point," Kate smiled as she slowly stood from the chair. "But I guess like your brother you're too stubborn to admit that at times too."

Avery rolled her eyes playfully, "Yeah I guess I am," she agreed wholeheartedly with a nod of her head.

Kate laughed again as she put a hand on Avery's shoulder, "Just know if you ever need to talk I'm here Avie and trust me I know Zac is too even if he'll be busy soon with the Spring tour and all. You know he'd drop anything to talk to you because between the two of us I think you're his favorite sibling with Taylor being a close second of course."

"Of course," Avery laughed as she looked up at Kate giving her a grateful smile and after she had, she watched Kate head back inside.

Avery knowing she should follow after but for now she just wanted a few more minutes by herself to breath and maybe a cry because without even realizing it she had started crying.

Reaching up quickly to wipe at her eyes before anyone else came outside and found her a mess of emotions. But it wasn't like she could help it.

Her mind had just chosen to go to what Kate said about talking to her if she ever needed and the same with Zac. Both things Avery knew was true she just hated that she was fucking terrified and afraid to tell them the main issues that were plaguing her.

That she was a lesbian who had her first girlfriend. A girlfriend that most of them probably wouldn't accept because she was a girl and not a boy.

She wasn't the prince charming they all saw Avery with or had dreams of her with.

Chapter Text

March 2008

"I don't know why you are so nervous," Jessica stated from where she sat on Avery's bed. Having came up to her room after getting back from going to the movies with Joe. "I mean you're almost acting like our older brothers used to when they brought a new girl home for our parents to meet."

Avery turned to look at Jessica after her third outfit change, "I am not acting that bad," she defended though maybe she was and just didn't realize it.

In the end though it couldn't be helped. Not really anyway.

Not when Avery knew that Paisley was on her way and she was afraid of how this dinner would be. Nervous that her mom and dad wouldn't like Paisley or that her mom wouldn't. Her dad usually liked anyone but if her mom didn't like Paisley, Avery knew she could find ways to convince her dad not too either.

"Really? Because since I've been back you've changed outfits twice and put your hair up and down and back up again more than once," Jessica rolled her eyes. "It's not like this girl is your girlfriend and you need to dress to impress for the first date where she meets the parents."

Pausing at Jessica's last statement Avery hated how it hurt when Jessica casually dismissed the idea of Paisley being her girlfriend.

Like Jessica would never suspect that her sister was gay but then again Jessica was still convinced she was dating Jeremy so of course she wouldn't think differently.

"I know she isn't my girlfriend," Avery spoke as she moved to sit down beside Jessica. "I'm just nervous mom and dad won't like her."

Jessica only laughed as she patted Avery's thigh, "Correction, you mean you're nervous mom won't," she said rather pointedly. "Zoe told me all about the outburst you had in Austin. Said it was rather epic and surprising and I get you want validation from our mother. I'm sure she'll like this new friend of yours though. She loves all your friends especially Cordelia."

Avery rolled her eyes at all of what Jessica said. Not surprised at all that Zoe had told Jessica about what had happened in Texas. Zoe wasn't known for keeping secrets well or at least not ones that could be particularly juicy.

Just like she also knew that while her mom loved Juniper and Cordelia if she knew about their sexuality that was bound to change. Especially if she also knew that Cordelia had feelings for her.

Before she could reply back or say anything though Avery heard from downstairs as the doorbell rang. Her heartbeat getting faster and her hands getting a bit clammy because she knew without a doubt that Paisley was here.

That soon enough she'd know whether her mom liked her new so called friend or not.

"Avery!" Walker yelled out from downstairs. "Your friend is here."

Jessica gave Avery a tiny almost encouraging smile, "It'll be okay," she whispered as she squeezed her hand. "And if it all goes to shit at least you have me and Mac and Zoe there. Us Hanson siblings always stick together when it comes to getting the other out of trouble with our parents."

Avery nervously sat the dinner table some time later. Listening as both her parents kept asking questions to Paisley more so her mom than her dad of course but her dad had gotten a few questions in too and Avery had to say she was surprised at the ease that Paisley was answering them.

That and how well she was holding up and not seeming nervous which was probably good because if her mom caught the first sniff of nervousness from Paisley, Avery was afraid her mom would make the questioning harder.

"So Paisley, you said you were in college," Walker spoke after he had swallowed a bite of his food. "What is it you are majoring in?"

Paisley nodded her head, "I'm majoring in photography," she answered sounding confident in her answer. "My room is actually full of some of my favorite pictures that I've taken."

At that Avery smiled softly remembering that now there was a picture of her up on the wall too. Though her smile soon faltered when she caught Zoe just staring at her a bit too curiously. Like Paisley's answer was confusing for her and she was looking at Avery for questions.

Questions that Avery didn't even know what they were so how could she even help her sister?

Diana hmmed at Paisley's response, "And what if you can't find a job in the photography business right away Paisley?" she questioned and Avery turned to see her mom giving Paisley a rather judgemental look. "Do you have a back up plan of jobs? Just asking because I have friends who are photographers and their first years were so touch and go."

"I do actually," Paisley answered keeping her cool and again Avery had to say she was surprised because if it was her she'd have snapped. "I'm minoring in education," she said and her answer surprised Avery slightly because somehow in their time together that had never really came up.

But in some odd way that small tidbit of information made Avery like Paisley even more than she already did. Just knowing that Paisley if photography fell through wanted to teach children.

Which Avery loved children, how could she not? She was one of seven children and already had numerous nieces and nephews.

Looking over at her dad Avery saw him smiling approvingly at that and well at least if Paisley wasn't winning over her mom she seemed to be winning over her dad and maybe for once her dad would be Avery's saving grace.

"So how long exactly have you known our daughter Paisley?" Diana asked another question and she still sounded judgemental but at least she had changed course from asking about future plans if photography fell through.

Probably realizing she had lost that round so she was going to try something new.

"We met on the fifteenth of February so exactly over a month and so many days," Paisley answered as she looked at Avery with a tiny smile. A smile that Avery returned though maybe hers was a bit bigger. "It was almost like this instant connection we had and we haven't really been apart since."

Avery grinned more at that, reaching out for Paisley's hand under the table. A place where no one in her family could see and she wasn't even worried in the slightest when Paisley took her hand, linking their fingers together before squeezing her hand softly.

Watching as her mom took a small bite of her food, Avery knew even after that, that her mom was going to keep up. At least until she felt like she had the upper hand and maybe Avery shouldn't feel too safe but so far Paisley was holding up so it seemed okay to feel safe.

To think that her mom would end up approving or that her dad would fight for her cause if she didn't.

"Well you two sure seem like the best of friends," Diana spoke and Avery could hear the fake smile and happiness in her mom's tone. "Has Avery told you about her plans for this summer if you two are such close friends?" she asked but without even waiting for Paisley to answer Diana continued to talk.

"She's going to her get GED and then after she does she has plans to travel all summer," she revealed and Avery and Paisley let go of each other's hands at the same time.

Both apparently shocked for different reasons because this was the first time Avery had even been told that her parents had came to a decision about that and Paisley because clearly she hadn't known.

It was one more thing Avery had kept from her and Avery knew she probably shouldn't but she had just been waiting until she had known for sure. Not having a clue that her mom would chose to reveal this now.

"What?!" Jessica spoke first as she looked between her parents a slight glare on her face. "You guys are actually going to let her graduate early?" she asked sounding clearly offended. "And you're going to let her travel alone when I had to wait until I was eighteen to even travel with friends out of state?"

Walker sighed softly as he shook his head, "Jessie.." he started only to stop when Jessica stood from the table in a hurry and leave the kitchen just as fast and after she was gone Walker turned his gaze to Diana. "Di, I think we need to go upstairs and talk," he spoke sounding harsher than Avery had ever heard her dad talk to her mom.

Something her mom must have known because she didn't even object. Instead she stood from the table and followed him out of the kitchen.

Leaving Avery, Mac, Zoe, and Paisley alone at the kitchen table.

"I should go," Paisley spoke breaking the awkward silence that had lingered in the kitchen after Jessica's dramatic exit as well as her parents leaving the room, her dad seemingly mad at her mom. "I'll see myself out," she said before standing from the table.

Avery knowing she had said she would see herself out but following after her anyway. Feeling like she needed to explain herself. Explain why she hadn't told Paisley about the trip she had wanted to take this summer.

"Paisley wait," Avery called out once they were outside and close to Paisley's car. "Can you just let me explain things?" she asked watching as Paisley stopped walking before turning to face her, an expectant look on her face.

"Well explain Hanson," Paisley told her sounding angry. "Tell me why you were keeping this from me. Because right now it seems you get kicks out of keeping fucking secrets. But hell then again maybe it is a family thing because from the way your dad reacted I don't think he knew your mom was going to say what she did."

Looking away from Paisley, Avery swallowed the lump that was in her throat. Hating when Paisley had basically compared her to her mom because if there was one comparison she didn't want it was that.

"I planned on telling you once I knew what their answer was and tonight's the first time they gave me that," Avery answered her voice all soft as tears welled up in her eyes and this time she didn't try to fight them away. "I only mentioned it in Austin after finding out that Cordy was going to go to college in San Francisco and Juniper's going to be in North Carolina and I realized I'd be here by myself without my two best friends. So the idea just came to me that I should get my GED and travel for the summer before making any huge college plans."

Paisley sighed some as she stepped a bit closer to Avery, "Yeah well you have your answer now and guess what I got to find out after they made their decision or well basically when the decision was made."

"I'm sorry," Avery apologized as she shook her head reaching up to wipe away a few of her tears. "I'm sorry that you're angry at me again."

"I'm not angry at you per say," Paisley told her though to Avery it sure felt like she was. "I'm angry that you didn't tell me yeah and I'm a little upset that you'll be gone most of the summer since we've just became official but I'm more angry at your mom for that stunt she pulled and trust me it was a stunt more than likely because she doesn't like me."

Avery shook her head wanting to defend her mom even if she knew it was probably true. "You don't know that Pai," she spoke as she felt a few more tears go down her cheek.

Paisley laughed bitterly as she moved closer to Avery again, this time reaching out to wipe away Avery's tears. "Yeah I do," she told her sounding confident in that. "Your mom hates me and now I'm just wondering if I'm going to lose you when she makes you choose between being my friend or not."

At those words Avery leaned into Paisley some, finding a way to bury her head in Paisley's shoulder despite the height difference and Avery being the taller one.

"You're my girlfriend Paisley," Avery told her as she kept her head buried when more tears came out. "Of course I'm going to chose you even if I have to hide the fact that you're still in my life," she spoke knowing she didn't want to give Paisley up so easily.

Especially since it seemed after this horrendous spectacle from her mom that Paisley was still okay with having Avery as her girlfriend. That she wasn't ready to be free of Avery because she had a mom who liked to be a bit of a drama queen at times.

Sometimes even being a better drama queen than Taylor was.

Paisley didn't say anything to that. Not at first anyway. Instead she pulled Avery farther into her, rubbing her back as Avery continued to cry.

Choosing to speak only when Avery's crying had to seemed to subside slightly. "I've never understood a Melissa Etheridge song more than I have in this moment," she spoke softly and her words made Avery lift her head as she gave Paisley a curious look.

A look Paisley must have read because she explained herself. "The song Come To My Window," she sighed. "The line I don't care what they say, I don't care what they think, what do they know about this love anyway."

Laughing softly at that Avery only shook her head though in a weird way she got it.

"You're a weird one Chambers," Avery told her before resting her forehead against Paisley's softly.

"But you love me anyway Hanson," Paisley smiled seeming once again sure of herself.

"But I love you anyway," Avery confirmed before kissing Paisley.

She knew it was brazen and ballsy to kiss her here in her driveway with her family just feet away inside but right now it didn't matter. Not when Paisley had calmed her and made her feel okay again. Made her feel almost safe.

When Paisley eventually pulled away, Avery knew she had to go. Knew she couldn't stay all night no matter how much Avery wished she could.

"Call me tomorrow okay," Paisley told her with a sad smile.

Nodding her head Avery just disentangled herself from Paisley. "Yeah, I'll call," she promised giving Paisley her own smile and after she had made that promise Paisley finished walking to her car and this time Avery let her.

Taking a deep breath before she turned on her heels and headed back inside her house. Coming to a stop once she was inside and saw Zoe sitting on the stairs, glaring at Avery after Avery had shut the door.

"I hate you," Zoe spat out before Avery could even say anything. "You've been ruining everything for weeks and I hate you."

Avery frowned as she walked towards where Zoe was, sitting down on the step beside her. "Yeah well sometimes I hate myself too lately," she admitted as she slid her arm around Zoe's shoulder. Almost thankful when her sister didn't pull away.

Letting her know that despite her words Zoe didn't truly hate her.

"You know mom only did what she did because Paisley's a lesbian right?" Zoe asked her anger still in her tone and Avery wanted to ask how she knew but deep down she knew she didn't have too.

Zoe had probably found a way to listen in as their parents argued.

"I figured as much," Avery nodded her head not even denying that Paisley was a lesbian because what was the point?

Her mom had figured it out and had found a way to cause a scene because of it. Probably had hoped to ruin the friendship between her and Paisley. Something which luckily she had failed to do because both Paisley and Avery it seemed were determined to fight and keep what was blossoming between them.

A fact her mom wouldn't like but Avery did mean it when she said she'd keep Paisley in her life even if she had to do so in secret.

Without even saying anything else to her sister Avery stood up and headed upstairs. Wanting to just go in her room and change into her pajamas and pretend this whole night had been one bad dream.

Laying in her bed, Avery who was on the last chapter of Jane Eyre, looked up when she heard a knock on her door. Feeling a bit surprised when she saw her mom standing in the doorway.

"I didn't want to go to bed without apologizing," Diana told her as she stepped into Avery's room. Going to sit at the bottom of Avery's bed. "I know I shouldn't have done what I did at dinner."

Avery closed her book after saving her space, "No, you shouldn't have," she confirmed keeping an edge to her voice because right now she was wary of her mom.

"I only did it for you though," Diana defended as she reached out for Avery's hand. "That new friend of yours, she's a lesbian and you know what the church teaches Avery. If you're a homosexual you've failed somewhere morally. You've failed yourself and you failed God and I don't want someone who's fallen so far to influence you. Ruin the good godly woman I know you are."

Avery bit her tongue at her mom's words. Wanting to reveal then that all her friends were lesbians and so called moral failures just like Avery herself was.

Instead though she kept that to herself. Staying silent and wondering if her mom had more to say.

"Your dad though talked some sense into me and you can stay friends with her," Diana smiled as she squeezed Avery's hand. "We're just going to be praying her lifestyle doesn't rub off on you in any way. Just like I am going to pray your trip this summer will maybe dissolve whatever friendship does exist and that you'll meet Godly people on it."

"Of course you will," Avery sighed her voice soft, knowing there was no way she could argue back. Afraid if she did her mom would go back on letting Paisley be in her life openly at least. "So when do I take the classes for my GED?"

Diana seemed to smile more at the subject change. "Classes start the first Friday in April and continue every Friday until the first weekend in May. Then you'll take the test and you should know by the end of May if you passed. I figured you can leave for your trip sometime in June with a planned stop back home for the fourth of July then you can go back to traveling until August or September."

Avery nodded her head because of course her mom even while agreeing to let her go on a trip still hadn't loosened the reigns all that much. Still decided how long Avery would be gone and when she'd come home to visit.

Then again the fourth of July was a semi huge affair for the family at times. With a cookout and fireworks in the backyard.

"But I am sorry Avery," Diana apologized as she stood from the bed. "I just hope one day that you can see why I did what I did."

"I hope I can too," Avery replied not even saying she forgave her mom. Which was a first and one Diana must have realized because she only frowned before turning and leaving Avery's room.

After she was gone Avery didn't even pick up her book again. Instead she laid back on the bed, frowning herself as she replayed her mom's words on being a moral failure just for being gay and she realized then that maybe she hated her mom's religion.

Maybe she hated the God her mom believed in.

Chapter Text

April 2008

Groaning as she sat outside by the pool Avery buried her head in the books that were laid out in front of her. It had been three weeks now since she had started the GED program and tonight was the second to last class before they took the tests for it and so she had been cramming way more.

So much that she was beginning to get a headache and get sick of studying. She was also shutting out everyone close to her except the family who lived at home and maybe she was also starting to get sick of them too.

Knowing if she had to listen to Zoe and Mac getting into one of their many adventures she'd probably lose her mind. That and the semi silent treatment she was getting from Jessica over the fact that she'd be traveling was enough to make her go crazy and she knew she needed a break soon.

Yet she was scared if she took a break she'd fail her GED test and she'd be stuck here in Tulsa with nothing to do all Fall except for Paisley and she was sure her mom wouldn't like that to be her future aspirations. Doing Paisley for the rest of her life though the idea was actually not one Avery was opposed to.

Having sex with Paisley forever but not as a full time job of course. Instead she wanted to do something centered on art. Whether that be running an art gallery or even teaching art to people somehow.

"You okay there Ave?" a voice asked and Avery looked up to see Jeremy standing beside the table.

A blush coating her cheeks because she hadn't even heard Jeremy coming outside. That was how lost she had been in her thoughts of hating studying and hating being stuck at home with her family.

Avery plastered on a smile as she watched Jeremy sit down in a seat next to her, "Just drowning in facts and information that I'm not sure my brain can handle."

Jeremy laughed softly as he shook his head, "Oh right I forget Jessie mentioned the GED and summer trip stuff last time I saw her. She was a bit surprised that I as your boyfriend didn't know this information."

"Of course she was," Avery replied back because it would be just like Jessica to assume you had to tell your partner everything. "Though maybe she had a point and you should have known if you were really my boyfriend."

"But I'm not," Jeremy smiled almost like he was gleeful over that. "God knows you'd drive me crazy if I was and I'd probably hate not getting to see you during your tumultuous time of being stuck in the study cave also known as Hanson House hell."

Avery glared playfully at Jeremy, "It's called the Hanson Compound for your information," she corrected him knowing that she and her family sometimes referred to their huge gated house as the Hanson Compound. A name that stuck after fans began to use it online. "So it's Hanson Compound hell and Paisley gets to see me," she defended though she thought that maybe the last time she had truly seen Paisley had been Monday night.

Then they had, had lunch together on Tuesday but Cordelia and the girl that she had been having dates with since March had been there too so they hadn't been truly alone then.

So maybe it had been a few days since she last saw her girlfriend or any of her friends. Though she had become an excellent texter lately so at least she still had contact with them.

"Really because Paisley was complaining about how little she has seen you lately over lunch at Taco Bueno," Jeremy teased her and Avery only furrowed her eyebrows.

"You hang out with my girlfriend?" Avery questioned him because obviously sometime during her excessive studying for her GED she had missed the fact that Jeremy and Paisley had become friends.

Jeremy shrugged all innocent and shy as he looked away from Avery's gaze, "She may be friends with my boyfriend," he whispered softly and there again was another thing Avery hadn't known and maybe Avery felt a bit bad.

Realizing that somehow since the relationship had failed with Jeremy maybe she had lost touch with him.

"You have a boyfriend?" Avery asked with a smile as she nudged Jeremy's arm playfully. "Spill the details please."

Jeremy kept his gaze away from Avery's, his cheeks turning pink at her words. "His name is Tyler and he's the boy I was thinking of when we kissed. I finally had the nerve to tell him how I felt a few weeks ago and we've been dating since then. Probably been spending more time with him than I have Mac which is actually why I came by today. To hang out with your brother."

"Yet here you are outside talking to me," Avery laughed as looked back at her books. "Giving me a reprieve from studying."

"Decided to take pity on you. You looked so helpless with your head buried in these books on the table," Jeremy shrugged. "That and maybe I wanted some advice."

"Advice?" Avery questioned feeling a bit taken aback. People rarely came to her for advice, mainly because she sucked at giving advice. The only Hanson's who seemed to be good at that were Jessica and Isaac but Isaac's was usually more like a parent would give and he could usually get boring when explaining things.

Then again hadn't she been told by a few people she could get long winded like Isaac too? A comparison she really hated just like she still hated when Paisley had compared her to her mother.

Jeremy again blushed his cheeks now a lovely red instead of pink. "Tyler and I are finally going to have sex for the first time this weekend. His parents are out of town and he invited me over and I'm internally freaking out because I've never had sex before."

"And you think I've had sex before?" Avery asked him though her tone implied she wasn't scandalized by his question.

"I've seen Paisley," Jeremy stated like that should have been reason enough for his assumption. "If I were straight I would have had sex with her the first day we met."

"We sorta did," Avery confessed as she now blushed too. "But sex isn't something to be nervous about. It's actually really good and you may suck with it being your first time but if Tyler loves you he won't mind."

Jeremy nodded his head before standing up, "I hope he won't but let's be honest Avery," he spoke as he smiled sweetly down at her. "I've done sucking way before my first time."

"Eww," Avery muttered sarcastically as she swatted at Jeremy. "Too much information for my innocent ears," she told him as she shook her head.

Watching as he left after that and once he was gone she was left with her books. Knowing she still had a few more hours until she had to leave for class and that meant a few more hours of studying.

"I'm going to die," Avery muttered to herself as she shook her head. "Going to fucking die."

Sighing in relief as she left her class Avery slowly slipped her notebook into the purse that she had slung over one of her shoulders. Slowly looking for the keys to her car as she walked out of the college and down into the parking lot.

Just wanting to get home and maybe sleep even if it was only nine at night. All the studying today and learning in class had made her tired and an early bedtime sounded like heaven.

As did a cup of coffee which would keep her awake but her body did crave coffee like it craved certain foods. Coffee and Paisley being two addictions that Avery was certain were going to do her in at some point or another.

Making it to her car, Avery found her keys finally and smiled as she closed her purse. Her face contorting in confusion when she saw a letter taped to the driver's side window of her car.

Reaching out she took the letter off and unfolded it. Smiling again when she was greeted with Paisley's handwriting.

I can't believe you have made me resort to writing you letters and stalking your car out to leave them on. But I guess you really are like the moon lately and I'm like the sun because we're never out at the same times anymore since you descended into the pits of study hell. I miss you though and you're still pretty to me. Prettiest girl I know right now and how about we go get ice cream before you head home and go back to study hell?

Avery raised her eyebrow in confusion at the last sentence though her confusion soon died when she heard someone behind her clear their throat and when she turned around she smiled seeing Paisley behind her.

"You're still here?" she asked almost afraid that somehow she was imagining her standing in front of her.

"No it's my ghost," Paisley joked with a roll of her eyes. "Yes I'm still here. I missed you and wanted to see your pretty face," she smirked before leaning in to cup Avery's cheeks with both her hands. "That and I really want ice cream."

Avery laughed softly as she leaned in to peck Paisley on the lips, "So you want ice cream more than seeing me is what you mean?" she asked playfully.

"God you know me so well Hanson," Paisley nodded her head. "The ice cream is what I was looking forward to all along. Your company is just an added bonus."

"I knew it," Avery said triumphantly as she moved away some. Putting the letter in the pocket of her jeans. "You're having an affair on me with frozen goods. But I guess I may come along on this forbidden love affair of yours. See what my competition is really like."

Paisley smiled almost like she was the cat that had gotten the canary. "Good now get in your car and follow me downtown so I can see and taste my mistress in front of you."

"Demanding and kinky," Avery teased before opening the door of her car, watching as Paisley walked towards her own.

"But you love me," Paisley called out over her shoulder and as Avery got in her car she knew there was no denying it.

Paisley had her there. She indeed loved Paisley very much and was almost a bit sad that in June she'd be leaving her for a few months to embark on her summer trip and then after she wasn't sure what would happen. Where she'd apply to school and where she'd end up.

Was afraid that maybe somehow her mom would get her wish and that their relationship would dissolve.

Arriving at the ice cream shop that stayed open late downtown, Avery parked her car next to the sidewalk and she got out. Slowly walking to where Paisley was parked and once Paisley had got out of her car and walked over Avery wasn't in the least bit surprised when Paisley linked her fingers with Avery.

It was just something they did nowadays. Hold hands in public and sometimes they kissed too still even if they knew they could be chancing it.

But Avery swore sometimes maybe the chance was worth the risk because how could she hide how she felt for the girl she kept falling more in love with every time they were together.

"Eating ice cream is really going to mess up my sleep schedule," Avery mused as she walked with Paisley towards the ice cream shop. "It's going to keep me up for most of the night and I should sleep."

"So you can wake up and study again?" Paisley asked with a bit of sarcasm to her voice. "It seems to be a wash, rinse, repeat thing with you."

Rolling her eyes Avery shook her head, "No, I promised Cordelia that I'd go see her play actually. It's her last one in high school and she's really excited for it. She even got the lead which she didn't think she'd get but of course she would because she's good at it and never has confidence in herself."

"People are their own worst critics sometimes," Paisley said with a nod. "I usually hate majority of the pictures I take."

"I hate a lot of my own paintings," Avery added on knowing she did hate a lot of her own stuff. "But Cordelia's really good and one day I think she could be on Broadway or in movies or something. It's really no wonder she got accepted into the school she wanted in San Fran."

"Exactly what school was it again?" Paisley asked and Avery was sure Paisley was only asking for her benefit because of how much she had been talking about Cordelia and maybe she shouldn't be doing that.

Talking about her ex crush who may have harbored feelings for her still while out with her girlfriend.

"Academy of Art. She's getting a degree in acting though personally I don't think she needs it with her talent," Avery said with a shake of her head.

Paisley only laughed as she pulled Avery a bit closer by her hand, "You know you are such an adorable best friend. I can see why Cordy fell for you. The way you dote on her."

Blushing Avery looked down, "Sorry. I know I shouldn't be talking about her so much while out with you."

"No, I get it," Paisley told her as she squeezed Avery's hand. "She's your best friend probably more so than Junie at times and you like to talk about her. I'm that way with Cal at times."

Avery smiled softly as she turned to look at Paisley, feeling comforted some that Paisley hadn't been jealous about how much she had talked about Cordelia.

Mainly because in the end Paisley had nothing to be jealous over. There were no feelings on Avery's part for Cordelia. None that amounted to the type of feelings she had for Paisley.

Coming out of her thoughts though as they dropped hands briefly to go inside the ice cream shop. Avery took her hand just as quickly as they went to the counter to order.

Not being surprised when they both got their usual ice cream orders. Paisley's some low fat chocolate thing and Avery getting a Strawberry cheesecake flavored kind. Some type that Jessica had gotten her addicted to years ago when they had came to this place and now it was her go to ice cream flavor.

"Avery?" a voice asked from behind where they were standing after they ordered and maybe they both turned around too fast at that.

Avery swallowing a bit hard when she came face to face with her two pregnant sister-in-laws. Nikki and Kate and as soon as that realization hit her she let go of Paisley's hand quickly.

Afraid that even an innocent hand holding with a girl would be clue enough that they were dating or that one or the other would go back and blab to her mom about what they had seen and that was the last thing she needed.

Not when her mom already knew Paisley was a lesbian and was wary of her.

Chapter Text

April 2008

"Kate, Nikki," Avery spoke with a fake sweetness to her voice. Hoping it masked the terrified surprise she felt. Especially when it came to one of them blabbing to her mom that maybe they saw her holding hands with a girl. A girl who of course her mom would figure or suspect to be Paisley. "I wasn't expecting you guys to be here."

Kate laughed as she put her hand on her belly, "Actually I wasn't expecting to be here either but then Nikki called me up and said she was craving ice cream and I realized that maybe I was too and with our husband's gone and not able to fulfill our pregnant ice cream cravings we decided to come ourselves."

Nodding her head Avery kept her guard up even as she smiled, "Seems like the best way to get that worked out," she agreed as she looked at Nikki who also smiled at her though she remained silent.

Which maybe should have been expected since admittedly Avery wasn't as close to Nikki or Isaac as she was Zac and Kate or even oddly Taylor and Natalie. Yeah she did babysit Everett on occasion but more so it was Taylor and Natalie's kids she watched the most and she just usually hung out with Zac in general.

Except lately. Lately they had both just been so busy with other things that it felt like they were passing ships who only saw each other rarely at family dinners or events for the band where Avery was a kid wrangler and far too busy to talk to him.

"Oh definitely," Nikki piped up using her normal sunshine tone. "Surprised to see you here too. The way Diana talks you've been so busy with studying that you barely leave the house."

"I have been but I was leaving class tonight and my friend Paisley invited me to come for ice cream," Avery explained as she turned to look at Paisley who had been standing there all quite.

Probably wondering who the heck the two women were but maybe she had figured it out some.

"Which I don't think you two have met her yet," Avery said as she looked back at her sister-in-laws. "She's a new friend I made recently."

Kate seemed to grin at that information, "New friends are nice," she told Avery sounding honest in that which maybe surprised her since Kate was always cautious on letting people into her own inner circle. "Nice to meet you Paisley. I'm Kate and this is Nikki," she said as she pointed to Nikki. "And we're two of Avery's sister-in-laws."

Paisley smiled politely at that but even Avery from where she stood could see it was just as guarded as her own was. She too obviously on edge around Avery's family probably because of the experience with her mom a few weeks back.

An experience that Avery would like to forget but one she was afraid she wouldn't for a long time. Having realized that maybe her mother was far more close minded than Avery had expected her to be.

"It's nice to meet you," Paisley told them both and even with being guarded she did at least sound genuine in her response, which Avery thought was a good thing.

Though before anyone could say anything else, Paisley and Avery's ice cream had been put into bowls and Paisley murmured something about paying before turning away quickly.

Leaving Avery to stare at her sister-in-laws.

"So are you guys going to stay and eat here?" Kate asked sounding hopeful. "If so maybe I can sit with you guys. Nikki has to get back home as her babysitter has an early errand to run tomorrow but I kind of don't want to go home just yet. It can get pretty lonely without Zac at home sometimes," she finished and Avery almost felt bad for Kate.

Knowing she wasn't sure if she herself could take being married to someone who was gone a lot. Then again at the same time she would maybe never be able to get married legally so she guessed in her case she couldn't take being a lifetime partner to someone who was gone a lot.

Which made her wonder if depending on what kind of job Paisley got in photography if she'd be home a lot or not. Which again made Avery feel pathetic, imagining a future with Paisley already. After not even a month of being official though it was almost a month.

In a matter of days it would be a month which was hard to believe. Because some days it felt just like yesterday that they had became official.

"Yeah we're staying here and you can sit with us," Avery answered not sure if Paisley would be okay with it but she'd probably feel guilty if she turned Kate down when Kate had asked so nicely.

She'd probably also be even more guilty if Zac somehow found out she had snubbed his wife when his wife had been nothing but nice to her.

Kate grinned at that sighing in relief which made Avery feel a bit better on sparing her feelings a bit.

When Paisley got done paying and handed Avery her cup of ice cream, Avery chewed her lip as she looked at Paisley. Hoping that she looked innocent enough in case Paisley got mad at her.

"I kind of told Kate she could sit with us," Avery spoke softly as Kate and Nikki moved to make their order.

Paisley gave Avery an endearing smile as she shook her head and lead the way to the nearest table, "Of course you did because you're such a caring soul Avie," she spoke and well at least she didn't seem mad.

If she was she was doing a bang up job in pretending and hiding it.

"I wish I felt half as caring sometimes as you think I am," Avery muttered under her breath as she sat down next to Paisley at the table that Paisley had chosen and now Paisley's smile did falter some.

"You are whether you believe it or not," Paisley told her and she sounded confident in that but even with Paisley's confidence Avery didn't seem convinced.

After all she was inside of her own body twenty-four seven and most days she didn't really seem caring. If she was caring wouldn't she try to be close to all of her siblings and not select ones? If she was caring wouldn't she just bend to what her mom wanted like she always used to do?

No, Avery was sure she was slowly losing her caring attitude or maybe she was only starting to truly care for people who showed her respect.

Before she could reply to Paisley though, Kate came to the table and slowly sat down. Finally accomplishing it with a gleeful smile.

"I'll never get back up now probably," Kate mused as she looked affectionately at her bump. "But I do think the baby inside is worth all the trouble he gives me now," she said and Avery didn't miss the wistful look in Kate's eye.

Like maybe she was thinking about the baby she had lost and she could have been. Avery always suspected that the baby she miscarried would forever stay with Kate and Zac somehow. Even as they eventually had other babies and the years went on.

Avery had never been pregnant nor lost a baby but she did feel deeply for people who had. Kate and Zac included because they had both seemed so happy before things had turned out for the worst.

The little spark of happiness slowly dying though now it seemed maybe it was coming back. For Kate at least Avery wasn't so certain about Zac sometimes especially not with how off he seemed in Austin the brief few times she had seen him last month.

"When are you due?" Paisley asked pulling Avery out of her thoughts and Avery blushed hoping neither Paisley or Kate had noticed her checked out.

Reaching for a spoon she took a bite of her ice cream before it melted anymore than it already had.

"Late May. Though he is probably stubborn enough he could stay in until June," Kate teased as she took a bite of her own ice cream. "But we're hoping not for my sake and I also kind of want Avie here to meet her nephew since she leaves the first week of June for her summer trip."

Avery smiled at Kate's words, "Then let's hope he doesn't acquire the Hanson soon gene," she replied back knowing Hanson's were known for doing things on their own time. "Because I really would love to be here for my nephew's debut into the world."

"I'll pray you will be," Kate told her and Avery believed fully that Kate would indeed probably go home and pray. Also not just because she wanted Avery to be there for the birth but also because she probably didn't want to be pregnant longer than she had too. "So how exactly did you two meet?" Kate asked in between another bite of her ice cream. "I know I've met Juniper and Cordelia and Avery said you're new so I'm just curious how you came to know our dear sweet Avie."

Rolling her eyes at Kate's words Avery was sure Kate had only added the last part to be nice. Maybe was still afraid Avery was in the same funk she had been in at Kate's baby shower.

Paisley smiled some at the answer, this time not seeming as guarded as before, "Avery came into the record store where I work a lot and would just sit in a corner with her sketchpad and just draw the day away."

"I didn't always draw the day away," Avery defended with a shake of her head as she looked at Paisley giving her a smile and maybe now she wasn't as guarded either.

Not when she was able to look at Paisley and smile like her whole world was in front of her and pathetically maybe it was.

"Most of the day," Paisley corrected as she stuck her tongue out at Avery. "Sometimes she'd read too but I always wondered why she came in there if she didn't want to buy anything so one day I just got up the courage to ask her and she's been a pain in my ass ever since."

Avery only rolled her eyes again though she was also slightly surprised when Kate genuinely laughed at that. Even with the curse word that Paisley had dropped.

Mainly because Avery knew sometimes Kate could be weird on that but then again she was married to Zac and Avery doubted Zac had fully cleaned the dirty mouth he could sometimes have. So Kate was probably used to a curse word every now and then.

"Well I mean she has a huge family so I can't blame her for needing a place just to get away," Kate spoke as she turned to Avery briefly. "I'm sure if I had grown up stuck with six other siblings I'd need an escape too. Luckily I just had two brothers and sometimes I think they were the ones who needed a break from me."

"Yeah Avie has told me horror stories and I met a few of them last month," Paisley revealed with a shrug of her arms. "I'd probably need an escape from that circus too," she spoke and Kate looked at Avery curiously.

"She met mom," Avery explained as she took a bite of her ice cream. "And dad and the circus at home," she said referring to the siblings who still lived there. "It was just a crazy night that night."

Kate snorted as she looked down at her half empty ice cream cup, "When isn't it a crazy night at the House of Hanson?" she asked jokingly. "I'm really surprised I kept coming back after meeting everyone but I guess Zachary bless his own crazy soul is worth it."

"Only said by someone who didn't have to live with him," Avery shot back though it was only as a joke. She'd much rather have had Zac over some others in the end if her parents had cut their brood down to size. "But let's not tell him that and damage his ego."

"Scout's honor," Kate said before doing a tiny salute to Avery's words. "But now I guess I'm just wondering do you think Avery is worth all the crazy Paisley?" she questioned and Avery didn't once miss the way Kate looked at Paisley like maybe she was looking deeper for something.

Though Avery was almost afraid of what she could be looking for. Afraid that whatever it was maybe Kate would go and blab to Diana to keep her good daughter-in-law status that she strived for at times.

Paisley paused as if she was contemplating her answer before finally grinning, her eyes lighting up some as she looked at Avery, "Yeah I think she's worth it," she answered and Avery felt her heart skip a beat as she returned Paisley's grin.

Hoping that neither of them looked too much like lovesick fools. At least not in front of Kate.

"Spoken like a true friend," Kate spoke up bringing both Paisley and Avery out of their grin filled staring contest. "I think Avery is lucky to have you."

"I think I am too," Avery agreed with Kate watching as Paisley blushed at her words and after that the conversation seemed to change so effortlessly.

To books that both Avery and Kate had read recently because at least they did have that in common. As well as Kate asking Paisley about her job and school and how she liked college.

Something that of course Kate would be interested in as she was the only wife who had graduated from college. Probably the only Hanson who actively supported good higher education which Avery liked since she did want to attend a University and not Tulsa Community College like Jessica went too.

By the time the conversation was over and their ice cream had been finished Avery was surprised to find it was almost ten and she pouted slightly as Kate left and she stood with Paisley to leave as well.

"Kind of dreading going back home now," Avery said as she reached for Paisley's hand again, feeling safe in taking it now that Kate and Nikki were gone.

"Why? Because you love my presence so much?" Paisley questioned with an irritatingly playful smirk.

"Of course," Avery replied with a nod of her head. "But also knowing I'm going to be up all night now thanks to that sugar and tomorrow is going to be horrible. Especially going to that play."

Paisley laughed before squeezing Avery's hand, "Just try not to fall asleep love," she muttered and Avery again felt her heart beat skip when Paisley called her love.

"I'll try not too cause I know Cordy will hate me forever if I do," Avery said though deep down she was sure Cordelia wouldn't but she would be upset.

Which was the last thing Avery wanted since they were slowly getting back to being good again after their slight fall out last month.

Chapter Text

April 2008

Looking at her mom nervously after the play had ended and they both headed backstage, Avery only hoped that Cordelia's maybe girlfriend wasn't back there. Even though she had came to the play today obviously to support Cordelia like a good girlfriend does.

Because deep down this wasn't how Avery had envisioned her mom finding out that the rest of her friends were gay too. By seeing Cordelia with her girlfriend. Avery had hoped to tell her one day on her own terms but well she had also reconsidered it too after how her mom had reacted to Paisley.

Which scared her for if and when she found out about Cordelia and Juniper. Two girls whom she loved but would probably soon start praying for their friendships to end with Avery as well once she eventually knew the truth of their sexuality.

Something that Avery hadn't meant to ever really keep a secret for long but now she was glad she had. Even if it was really close to coming out if Cordelia's girlfriend was backstage and Avery knew it was wrong but she wanted to be mad at Cordelia's mom.

Andrea shouldn't have even invited her mom but of course she had because they were good friends too. Though Andrea obviously never discussed her daughter's sexuality with Avery's mom. The same way Juniper's mom Victoria never did the same either.

A thing that maybe Avery found curious but then again maybe mother's instincts were real and they knew Diana would react badly. But that also meant if it were real then her mom would know she was a lesbian too and so far she hadn't figured that out it seemed.

No one aside from her friends knew and for now Avery was very much content on keeping that a secret from everyone. Though a part of her hated keeping Paisley a secret. Wanted to freely flaunt Paisley as her girlfriend and be open with her around her family like all of her other siblings were able to do with people they dated.

But all hopes of Cordelia's girlfriend not being backstage were dashed when they made it back there and she was there. Standing right beside Cordelia and looking all infatuated with her.

Much more infatuated than Cordelia every looked with her which Avery couldn't help but wonder if the feelings in the relationship were one sided. If Cordelia still wasn't fully over Avery and therefor couldn't give all of her heart to her girlfriend.

Biting her lip again Avery watched as her mom walked over to where Andrea was and she slowly let out a sigh of relief before walking towards Cordelia and her girlfriend.

"Avie," Cordelia grinned as she pulled Avery into a tight hug once Avery made it to where she was. "I was so afraid you wouldn't come," she spoke once she had Avery against her.

"I promised I'd come," Avery told her as she squeezed her slightly. "You're my best friend and there was no way I was going to miss your final high school play."

Pulling away after saying that Avery saw Cordelia's grin go even wider and as she looked over at Cordelia's girlfriend she saw her glare at Avery slightly.

Leaving Avery wondering just how much Cordelia had told her about Avery. If she had been open in having feelings for her.

"Yes, it really is nice to see you," Jane nodded her head, her glare dropping when Cordelia turned to face her. "I know Cordy was looking forward to you coming. It's all I heard about for the last few days."

"Not all you heard about babe," Cordelia muttered as she leaned in to kiss Jane on the cheek and Avery had to look away.

Feeling slightly uncomfortable and a part of her wondered if that's how Cordelia had felt around her and Paisley. Uncomfortable with a weird feeling in her gut. Not an unhappy one because of course she was glad Cordelia had found happiness.

But she just got a weird feeling seeing Cordelia being affectionate with someone. Maybe because for so long before Paisley, Avery had always daydreamed that it was her that Cordelia would be openly affectionate with.

Jane seemed to grin when Cordelia kissed her cheek and Avery didn't miss the look that Jane gave her after that. Like she felt she had one up on Avery.

Making Avery convinced that Cordelia had been totally honest about everything with her.

"Well it felt like it was all I heard about," Jane spoke as she shrugged her shoulders. Giving Cordelia an apologetic smile. "But I am glad you came too Avie. So you could see how amazing Cordelia was in this role. She didn't think she would be."

Avery shook her head at that because she wasn't surprised. It was how Cordelia was and it reminded her of the conversation she had with Paisley yesterday.

That people were their own worst critics.

"People are their own worst critics so I believe it," Avery said parroting Paisley's words. "But Cordy is amazing and I wish she'd believe that."

Cordelia blushed at that, looking away from both girls. "You're both just saying that to make me feel good."

"Maybe," Avery and Jane spoke at the same time. An action that made all three girls laugh though even with the laughter Avery again didn't miss how Jane glared at her.

Though Cordelia must have been oblivious to it. Something Avery didn't see how but then again people could be blind to things they didn't want to see or they could just be blind altogether.

Avery was a testament to that especially when it came to never having realized that Cordelia had loved her.

Before anymore words could be spoken though Andrea and Diana came over to the girls and Avery stiffened slightly when her mom put her arm protectively around Avery's waist. Like she was trying to keep Avery from harm or something.

"So Cordelia who is your new friend?" Diana asked all nice but Avery could tell from her tone that she knew. A fact that was confirmed when Avery turned to look at her mom, seeing the judgemental look that she was giving Avery.

It was enough to make Avery swallow hard and dread the drive back home. Knowing she probably had a lot of explaining to do.

But maybe she could win her mom over on her having gay friends. Especially now that these friends were ones that Diana had knew for half of their lives and not just someone new. Not someone who she saw as making Avery rebel against authority or maybe trying to corrupt her.

Her mom always loved Cordelia and Juniper and well maybe she'd see things differently with them.

"Her name is Jane," Cordelia answered as she looked at Jane. "And she's my girlfriend," she spoke before shooting Avery a glance and Avery only shrugged.

Knowing her mom already knew so what would it hurt to confirm it?

Diana plastered on a fake smile as she held her hand out to Jane, "How nice to meet you sweetie," she spoke once Jane took her hand and they shook hands briefly. "I'm sure you're a lovely girl if you've landed someone like Cordy here."

As her mom spoke Avery just looked at her. Perplexed by the change in her now from the night that she had met Paisley.

A fact that made Avery mad. Mad enough to go silent and just stand there and listen to everyone else talk. Her thoughts trying to piece together why her mom was suddenly okay with this when she had been such a bitch when she had met Paisley.

How she could be so nice to Cordelia and Jane when she had been rude to someone else. Just because they were gay and loved other girls.

But of course Avery didn't question her there backstage. Instead she still stayed silent. Only offering a brief goodbye to Cordelia when her mom mentioned leaving.

Her silence lasting even as she followed her mom to the family SUV and got in. Though the moment the doors were shut and the car was turned on Avery eyed her mother curiously.

"You're okay with Cordelia being gay?" she asked sounding bitter about it even if it was what she had wanted.

For her mom to be okay with her friends being gay. She just hadn't expected such a complete turnaround so soon.

Diana shook her head as she pulled out of the parking space, "No, I'm not okay with it," she said honestly as she kept her eyes ahead of her as she drove out of the high school parking lot. "But I trust her around you more than I do that other friend of yours..Presley I think her name was."

"Paisley," Avery corrected still sounding bitter. "And I don't see what the difference in trust is. They're both gay they could both want to rub their lifestyles on me and make me a moral failure to God."

Diana laughed softly, "Oh honey I doubt Cordy would do that or that you'd let her," she spoke almost like she was amused at that idea. "You don't like at Cordy like you looked at Presley."

"Her name's Paisley," Avery spoke her voice raising slightly when her mom messed up the name again. "And how exactly do I look at them differently?"

"You look at Cordy like you look at Jessie and Zoe. Like she is one of your sisters," Diana answered her voice going soft. "You looked at Paisley like you wanted to drown in an ocean if she asked you too. Like you could love her and you can't because you aren't gay. Won't be gay on my watch anyway."

Going silent at that Avery looked down at her hands as her mother turned the radio on. Some oldies song filling the car as Avery got lost in her thoughts again.

Hating that how she looked at Paisley had given away how she felt for her. Hating that, that had been what had made her mom so afraid that Avery would turn gay if she was around Paisley. Not revealing that she was already gay and already in love with her.

"Juniper's gay too," Avery revealed finally breaking her silence.

"I knew that sweetie," Diana told her with a smile as she finally looked at her. "Victoria told me ages ago and I just pretended it didn't exist. That she wasn't gay, just like I am going to do with Cordelia now," she revealed and it was in that moment that Avery realized just how much of a hypocrite her own mom could be.

But of course she knew better than to call her on it. Knew better than to have another argument.

"You can have gay friends," Diana continued in her silence. "Just not ones you look at like you could fall in love with them. Then you'll be less tempted to stray from God. Less tempted to fail God and fail yourself sweetie and I only care about you. I care about making sure you never mess up. Not under my watch anyway."

Chapter Text

April 2008

Avery sat on a chair in her room. Paintbrush in hand as she sat in front of an almost blank canvas. Her eyes scanning the sketch she did of herself and Zac a month ago in Texas.

Finally deciding to turn the sketch into a painting. Especially since she had nothing else to do on this Tuesday night. Her parents were out on some last minute date night and Jessica who was home for once instead of out with Joe was in charge of everyone and Avery had opted to take a break from studying.

A part of her wishing she had decided to go out, after all it was a month exactly since she and Paisley had became official but Avery was afraid to test the waters.

Knowing how much her mom could be hypocritical and she felt if she asked to go out now she'd get the third degree. Her mom wanting to know if she was hanging out with her good gay friend or the bad one who she was in love with.

Who she was secretly dating and who she half wished she could be open about. Instead of still having to pretend she was dating Jeremy.

A rouse that she didn't see how it hadn't fallen apart yet because they rarely saw each other. Rarely hung out which made sense now that Avery knew about Tyler and how Jeremy had gotten himself a boyfriend.

Chewing her lip Avery soon began to apply her paintbrush to the canvas. Painting what she had drawn and adding each color as she vividly remembered it from her mind. The best she could anyway because the memory itself was an old one.

Even if it was one of her most cherished ones. One she always hoped to keep locked away somewhere inside of her because that day was probably one of her happiest days.

Though sometimes she doubted if it was one of Zac's. Wondered how many happy days he had, had in the past few years anyway.

Then again the same could be said about most of her siblings except Mac and Zoe. Both of them at least in Avery's mind were too young to be tarnished and tainted just yet. They still had a few more years until that happened or at least Zoe did.

Mac was fourteen now so Mac may have slowly began to realize that life wasn't all sunshine and roses. That their family wasn't all sunshine and roses either. That just like every other family they had secrets and cracks beneath the surface that burned and left ashes in it's wake sometimes.

Which again maybe that was just a part of life too because life was fucked up and hard. Never guaranteed to be easy even if Avery wished it were.

Because if it were she wouldn't have to keep her girlfriend a secret from her family.

Hearing a knock on her bedroom door Avery came out of her thoughts as she turned her head, seeing Jessica standing in the doorway. An amused smile playing on her sister's lips.

"Man you really do check out when you paint," Jessica said leaving Avery wondering how long she had been knocking on the door. "But I just came to tell you that I was going to start a movie with Zoe and Mac. Maybe pop some popcorn too in case you wanted to join us."

Eying Jessica skeptically Avery stayed seated, "You mean you actually want me to be there?" she asked figuring Jessica was still upset about Avery's upcoming trip this summer.

After all this was really the first time in weeks Jessica had spoken nicely to her.

"Yeah I want you there," Jessica answered as a guilty looked passed her face. "I know I've been a bitch lately," she spoke and maybe it surprised Avery to hear her older sister cussing.

It always seemed rare when she did.

"No kidding," Avery told her with a tiny laugh. "I almost think that's an understatement."

"Maybe it is," Jessica agreed with a nod. "But I know I shouldn't have taken it out on you. Should have been more upset with mom and dad since they are the ones who wouldn't let me have more freedom and are okay with you traveling alone at seventeen. So I'm sorry and I'd love it if you joined our little sibling movie fest."

Avery smiled some as she nodded her head, "Just let me clean up here and then I'll be down," she said agreeing to watch the movie with her siblings. "What movie is it anyway?"

"Dirty Dancing," Jessica answered with a smile. "Figure Mac won't like it but it's payback for him making me watch The Goonies so many times last time we all went on a really long trip together."

Laughing at that Avery shook her head, watching as Jessica left her room after answering her and once she was gone Avery began to clean her art stuff up. Glad that she got the painting at least started even if it wasn't finished.

She could finish it sometime this week or maybe next....though in the end she knew it'd probably be sometime in May when she finished painting it since she had her last GED class this week and then the test at the start of next month.

Two things she was really nervous over and afraid she'd fail even if she was studying her ass off in hopes that she didn't fail it.

Mainly because she really did want this summer trip and she really wanted to start college soon even if she wouldn't be starting it this fall. At least she'd have a bit longer to decide what she wanted to study when she did go.

Only really knowing it'd be art related because art was in her blood. It was a language she spoke fluently.

Making it downstairs eventually, Avery paused when she went into the living room seeing both Zoe and Mac on the couch though Jessica was nowhere in sight.

"Where is Jessie at?" Avery asked curiously as she looked down at her younger siblings who were both for once silent.

A very rare occasion for either of them.

"In the kitchen with your girlfriend," Zoe stated answering Avery first as her blue eyes locked with Avery's brown and Avery was sure at her sister's words her face had paled slightly.

"What?!" Avery questioned her voice raising some because surely her sister hadn't meant it the way it had sounded to Avery like she had meant it.

Mac laughed softly as he shook his head, "What our dear baby sister meant is Jessie is in the kitchen with your friend who is a girl," he spoke with a smile that resembled Zac's. "I believe her name is Paisley and she's the one our mom doesn't like for odd reasons."

Avery visibly relaxed some as she heard Mac's words, though she was still on edge with the way Zoe had worded things.

But then again Avery was sure lately she had been on edge with Zoe a lot which was sad because she didn't want that. Almost sometimes wished that she and Zoe could have been as close as her and Jessica were even if sometimes she and Jessica did have disagreements or even if Avery felt sometimes she had to strive to please Jessica.

Yet deep down she feared she'd never be as close to Zoe. Not like she wanted and especially not if Zoe still blamed her for stuff that was going wrong with their family.

Nodding her head Avery turned and left the room, heading towards the kitchen where she indeed found Jessica and Paisley fixing two bowls of popcorn.

"Paisley?" Avery questioned because she was surprised to see Paisley here in the kitchen. Surprised to see her at the house at all.

Almost expecting that after her first disaster of a visit here she'd avoid the place like the plague or something. Avery would have if she had been in Paisley's shoes.

At her words both Jessica and Paisley turned to look at her, equal amounts of amusement on their faces.

"Oh yeah maybe I should have mentioned your friend was here too," Jessica spoke as she picked up the bowl of popcorn she had been fixing. "My bad," she shrugged her shoulders innocently before leaving the kitchen.

Though as she left Avery got the feeling that Jessica hadn't told her on purpose which made Avery cross her arms as she gave Paisley a skeptical look.

"Hey now," Paisley finally broke her silence. "Don't look at me like that okay."

"Look at you like what?" Avery asked as she kept her arms crossed over her chest.

"Like I kicked your best friend or your favorite pet or something," Paisley answered as she walked closer to Avery. "I just wanted to surprise you and so I told your sister not to mention that I was here," she explained before reaching out to rest her hands on Avery's crossed arms. "I just wanted to see you today and all. I mean it's been a month since we became official."

Avery uncrossed her arms after that, "I get that," she nodded her head. "I guess I'm just surprised you're here is all. I mean after last time you know. I'd have avoided this place like the plague."

Paisley laughed at that, "I thought about it. Trust me I thought about it but the need and the want to see you won out."

Smiling softly Avery moved a bit closer to Paisley, "I feel kind of flattered knowing you wanted and needed to see me bad enough that it won out over you avoiding my house like the plague."

"You should be," Paisley told her as she leaned in to peck Avery's lips. "You're kind of worth it."

Avery felt her smile grow at that before pecking Paisley's lips back. "We better go join my siblings for the movie," she spoke knowing they shouldn't stay in the kitchen alone much longer.

Afraid that one of her siblings would come looking and maybe see or hear something they shouldn't see or hear.

"Wait," Paisley told her as she reached into her pocket briefly before pulling out a necklace. "I sort of got this for you."

Taking the necklace from Paisley, Avery smiled more as she saw the tiny art easel and paintbrush pendants on it. "You didn't have to do this," she told her knowing that she hadn't gotten her anything.

Hadn't expected to see her at all today either but maybe she should have known Paisley would find a way to see her. That her girlfriend was just that stubborn to find a way when there didn't seem like one.

"I wanted too," Paisley told her before leaning in and kissing her again and this time it was much longer than a peck.

Avery letting her eyes fall shut as she returned the kiss. Forgetting briefly that they were in the kitchen of her parents house. At least until she heard footsteps coming towards the kitchen and she quickly pulled away right before Zoe and Mac both came to a stop in the kitchen doorway.

"Can you two come on already," Zoe spoke her voice sounding all whiny as she looked from Avery and Paisley. "Jessie refuses to start the movie without you guys in there."

"We're coming, we're coming," Avery plastered on a smile even though she was nervous because that had been close.

After saying that to Zoe she pocketed her necklace and moved to leave the kitchen, watching as Paisley went to grab the bowl of popcorn and as all four of them walked back towards the living room Avery let her arm go around Zoe as she pulled her younger sister close.

Listening as behind them Mac began a game of twenty-one questions with Paisley. Starting with what her favorite video game was because he truly was Zac's little brother.

It was something that amused her but also something that made her hope that when she came out maybe some of her family would be accepting. Especially if she was still dating Paisley when she came out to them...if she ever did.

Chapter Text

April 2008

"That's a cute necklace," Diana spoke as she stood beside Avery in the kitchen where they were with Kate and Zoe baking cupcakes for Diana's birthday celebration that she'd be having tomorrow at the Church even if her birthday was actually today.

Something that was going to be celebrated in a small family gathering at dinner. A dinner that of course her brothers would miss because they were still on tour but their wives would be there.

Natalie even saying she had an announcement to make at said dinner which Avery couldn't help but suspect that it was a pregnancy announcement. It seemed it always was a pregnancy announcement with her.

Unless of course there would be a shocker and she and Taylor would actually divorce but of course Avery didn't see that happening so pregnancy it had to be.

"Thanks," Avery smiled as her hand automatically went up to the necklace around her neck. The one Paisley had given her last week and the one she had been so afraid to wear for days but had finally decided to wear it for the first time today.

Mainly because she was missing her girlfriend. Someone who she hadn't really seen since the movie night because again she had gotten lost in studying for a test that was this weekend and hopefully after the test was over and done she'd actually be able to see her girlfriend more.

Because she really did miss Paisley desperately missed her.

Her mom only returned her smile, "So where did you buy it from?" she asked with a curious little look. "It really is you especially with the paintbrush and easel pendents on it."

"It was a gift from a friend," Avery answered with a shrug of her shoulders as she let go of the necklace. Hoping her mom didn't push and ask anymore questions.

Something Avery knew deep down she'd probably do because that's who she was.

"Oh," Diana muttered almost like she had already figured out who it was. "Which friend?" she asked though from her now icy tone it was apparent that yeah maybe she had figured it out already.

Her icy tone being enough to make Kate turn to look at Avery curiously and Avery knew now wasn't the time to explain everything to Kate.

Hell she was almost surprised her mom hadn't told Kate everything anyway but maybe she was too afraid to tell anyone her fears about Avery having a lesbian friend who she might have felt more than friendly towards. Afraid if she told she'd speak the relationship into existence.

One that already existed anyway.

"Paisley," Zoe piped up before Avery could answer and Avery turned on her, giving her a slight glare. "She came by last week when you and dad had your date night and she gave Avie the necklace. Only know because I saw her holding it when Mackie and I came in here to tell them both to hurry and bring the popcorn so we could start the movie."

Diana went silent at that for way too long. Long enough that Avery was afraid of what she'd say.

"And I was never told of this?" Diana asked as she directed her question at Avery.

Avery blushed as she kept her gaze off her mom. Becoming way too interested in her baking instead. "I mean I never have to tell you when my other friends make surprise appearances by the house," she defended hating the fact that she wanted to cry right now.

Just wishing that maybe for once her mom would cool it on not liking Paisley.

"Your other friends aren't bad influences," Diana reminded her with a shake of her head.

Rolling her eyes at that Avery was about to respond but Kate beat her to it instead.

"Paisley seemed nice enough when I met her," she smiled and her words made Diana turn to look at her quickly.

Quick enough that Avery was almost afraid that maybe she could have gotten whiplash or something.

"You've met Paisley?" Diana questioned and again Avery was surprised at the lack of information that had been shared between Kate and her mom and maybe Kate really didn't tell Diana everything.

Even when it seemed she wanted to be favorite daughter-in-law and telling her everything would definitely give her extra points towards that.

Kate nodded her head as she gave Diana a genuine smile, "Two weeks back maybe. Nikki and I went out to get ice cream and Paisley and Avery showed up. Paisley seemed nice enough to me and not someone who was a bad influence," she spoke almost like she was defending Avery's friendship.

The first time anyone had done it for Avery it seemed which was nice.

"She's a lesbian Katie," Diana revealed her tone coming off a bit harsh and at that Avery turned to give Zoe a look before slowly leaving the kitchen.

Ushering Zoe along with her because even if the conversation was about her and Paisley it almost felt intrusive to listen in so blatantly.

So once they made it out of the kitchen Avery came to a stop. Not moving and instead eavesdropping that way and she wasn't surprised either when Zoe made no effort to move.

"What's wrong with her being a lesbian?" Kate asked sounding genuinely confused. "Zac and I are friends with a few other gay people and none of them are bad influences on us."

"Because none of them probably like you," Diana argued back and Avery could almost picture the huff her mom gave after she had spoken. "Paisley looks at Avery like she's in love with her and Avery....she looks at her the same way," she revealed her voice going soft at that.

The fear showing some which surprised Avery because their mom rarely showed true fear. Instead she hid it inside pretty well.

"I just don't want my daughter to be a failure to herself and God, Katie," Diana continued in Kate's silence. "What would you and Zac do when it comes to Shepherd one day?" she questioned referring to the unborn baby Kate was carrying. "What if he had a gay friend and they looked at each other like they were in love?"

After that question, the kitchen fell silent like Kate was thinking over her mom's question and again Avery could almost picture that little face Kate did when she thought over something.

A face Zac was probably used too cause no doubt Kate always had to think over any idea he had since most were weird ones.

"I think I'd still love my son Diana," Kate finally answered after a long while. "I'd love him and I'd do my best to accept that maybe he was gay. But then again I'd also know looks are looks and just because you look at someone some way it doesn't mean you really are in love or that you are gay," she continued sounding again like she was standing up for Avery.

A fact that made Avery happy because well she hadn't really expected it from Kate.

"All I know is I don't think that Paisley girl is a bad influence Diana and Avery seemed the happiest she has in weeks when I saw them together and you should just be grateful that your daughter has a friend that makes her so happy."

Diana again huffed at that, "My daughter is fine Kathryn," she muttered using Kate's full name. "She's been happy ever since she started dating Jeremy and nothing has changed. That's probably why she seemed so happy."

Rolling her eyes at that Avery just moved to leave finally. Not wanting to hear anymore of the conversation because of course her mom would be in denial that she wasn't happy as long as it benefited her.

If it didn't then yeah she'd call Avery on her weird moods and the way she'd been acting.

But now that didn't benefit her in her conversation with Kate so she'd lie and mask the fact that Avery hadn't been happy in some time and really was only happy with Paisley.

Because as scary as it was Paisley made her feel safe. Safer than anyone else and maybe somehow in some weird way Paisley was also beginning to feel a lot like home to Avery.

Something she shouldn't because no one should make people homes. People had a tendency to leave in the end.

Making it to her room finally, Avery headed over to her canvas where the unfinished painting of her and Zac was and she sat down in a chair. Letting herself get back to work on it.

Just to get lost in something that wasn't bad feelings. Wanting to just drown in her art instead of how she truly felt right now.

Later that night after the small birthday get together for her mom. A get together where Natalie did indeed announce that she was a few weeks pregnant with her fourth child, Avery sat outside on the porch.

A part of her feeling pretty accomplished because in the hours before the get together she had finished the painting of her and Zac. Something she hadn't done in what seemed like forever.

Finish a painting and now that she had finished it she had another painting idea in mind. One that was entirely brought on for all her feelings for Paisley. A painting of the sun and moon together in a forbidden kiss. Much like all the kisses she shared with Paisley.

Forbidden but feeling oh so right.

Coming out of her thoughts though as her phone rang Avery didn't even have to look at her cell phone's id to know who was calling. Knew just from the Beatles song that played. The lyrics of Oh Darlin giving it away.

"Hey," Avery spoke as she held the phone to her ear. "How's the tour going?" she asked before her brother could even speak.

"Same as always," Zac answered her question. "By this time all cities start to look the same but I still love it."

"Of course you do," Avery laughed softly. "What city are you in now?"

"Falls Church. We have a show here tomorrow," Zac answered quickly and well that surprised Avery because usually he had to ask others. "Just got off the phone with Katie actually and that's why I'm calling you," he continued and him telling her that he had gotten off the phone with Kate was answer enough to how he knew what city he was in.

Probably had to ask someone when talking to her.

"Oh really?" Avery asked with a raised eyebrow. "What about your phone call with your wife made you want to call your sister who you haven't really spoken to since the ice ages," she teased him knowing she was just at fault for their lack of real communication lately.

Life was just too busy on her end just like it was on his.

Zac laughed at Avery's words, "Funny there Avie baby," he muttered sarcastically. "Hasn't been the ice ages. Just since prohibition maybe," he corrected keeping the teasing up. "But Katie just told me that she is still under the impression that your plans for this summer haven't changed. That you plan on traveling for months by yourself."

"That would be correct," Avery confirmed for him. "Are you calling to try and talk me out of it? Because that would be hypocritical of you, you know. You traveled without our parents when you were sixteen," she reminded him knowing he had been allowed to be all the way out in California making an album at an age much younger than Avery was.

"I did," Zac sighed and Avery could hear movement on his end. Like he was sitting down. "But I also had my two older brothers with me so I wasn't really all alone and I don't think you should go all alone either. I think you should bring someone with you like a friend or maybe even Jessie."

Laughing at that Avery reached up with her free hand towards her necklace, "Jessie won't leave Joe for that long," she stated with a sigh, knowing her sister would be miserable for weeks without her boyfriend. "And all my friends are busy with their own lives," she said knowing Juniper had plans to start moving this summer as did Cordelia.

Cordelia opting to go to California with her dad immediately after graduation to find a place to live and maybe even a job and Avery was slowly beginning to realize just how quickly her life was beginning to change.

Something she wanted to forget because she still wasn't sure how she could do life without her friends around. They had always just been minutes away for as long as Avery could remember and now soon they'd be on opposite ends of the world.

"I'm sure there has to be one friend you could talk into going with you Avie," Zac spoke breaking the silence that had filled the lines after Avery had gotten lost in her mind.

His words only bringing up an image of Paisley because maybe she could. Her college semester ended in May but she still had work so it was iffy there. Not to mention Avery was sure her mom wouldn't like the idea of Paisley tagging along but maybe Avery wouldn't have to tell her if she brought it up to Paisley and she agreed.

"There maybe is one," Avery nodded her head though Zac couldn't see her. "But you're really starting to sound like dad there Zachary and even dad isn't too worried on me traveling all alone by myself this summer."

"Dad's probably freaking out he just isn't showing it," Zac told her sounding sure of himself. "And I can't help worrying. You're my seventeen year old sister and I worry about you especially you traveling on your own. Probably would worry even if you were forty and traveling alone."

Avery laughed at that before sighing, "You're not going to stop until I tell you I'll ask one of my friends will you?"

"Nope," Zac spoke confirming what Avery suspected which again made her sigh.

"I'll bring it up to one of them okay but no promises," Avery finally told him and she wasn't sure if she was saying it to ease his worries or if she'd actually bring it up with Paisley. "Just so you know though I worry about you too Zac."

"And what does that mean Avie?" Zac asked sounding way too defensive. Like he had a secret that no one else but him knew about.

Something that of course Avery would be able to detect given her own life right now.

"Nothing, was just saying the worry goes both ways and I just want you to be okay and taken care of Zachary," she spoke with a tiny smile. "I should go though. Need some sleep and so do you if you have a show tomorrow."

Zac sighed at that, like maybe he didn't want to end the conversation but instead of saying so he just bid her a goodbye and after that they both hung up.

Avery pocketing her cell phone as she debated on mentioning to Paisley if she'd come with her at least for part of her trip anyway. Not sure if she could take off work and if she could how much she could take off.

Not to mention there was her mom and how much she'd freak out if she knew so if Paisley did go it'd just be another secret Avery would have to keep.

Chapter Text

May 2008

After her tests were done Avery left the building at the college. Heading out to her car where she soon got in and laid her head against the steering wheel for a second.

Needing just a few minutes to catch her breath as well as relax because she had been nervous all morning and through most of the test. Afraid that even with all her studying she'd still fail, something she was still afraid of even now that it was over and done.

Almost wishing she'd have the results today but knowing they'd come sometime next week which meant until then her nerves would probably eat her alive.

Which meant for the next few days she'd be in a different hell than the study hell she had just left behind.

Lifting her head though when she heard her cell phone vibrate she reached down into the cup holder where she had left it laying before going in to take the tests.

Hitting to unlock her phone she was soon greeted with a notification that she had a message from Paisley.

So I don't know if you are done with your tests yet or not but just wanted to say I really hope you ace them babe and well also how about dinner tonight with your amazing girlfriend to celebrate studying being over with? I need a night in before my finals kick in for this month and I'd like to spend it with you at my place with some take out.

Smiling as she read the text Avery quickly sent one back.

I'm done and fingers crossed I aced it. Dinner at your place sounds amazing but what did you have in mind to eat?

After hitting send on that, Avery put her phone away again as she started her car and pulled out of her parking space. Knowing that right now a part of her wanted to head home before she went to Paisley's tonight.

Just wanting to take a nice long hot bubble bath as well as maybe nap. Hoping one or both could ease the nerves she'd have until she got the results of her test back and knew if she failed or passed.

A part of her really hoping she had passed because she didn't want to have to do another year of school next year. She'd much rather be planning her college classes and college life.

Still a bit unsure though if she'd stay here in Tulsa but if she was with Paisley still she didn't see why she wouldn't stay in Tulsa. She'd sadly stay anywhere Paisley was because Paisley was almost again like a home to her. The person who anchored her down in the sea of life and made her feel a bit weightless at times when waves tried to drown them.

Waves like her mom and the way her mom hated just the simple thought of Avery's friendship with Paisley.

Making it home though Avery came out of her thoughts as she pulled into the driveway. Cutting her car off before reaching for her phone to see if Paisley had texted her back during the drive back home.

Well I mean I wanted to eat you but that would probably come after dinner. For dinner I was thinking pizza from Hideaway.

The veggie combo pizza?

You know me so well Avie :). Though if you want to half it and get a meat kind for you, you can.

Nah veggie is good. Need to try to eat semi healthy since being in study hell ruined that for me. Going to need to exercise for weeks to get this stress eating weight gain off me.

Or we could have sex and get the weight off you that way. But you can also become my yoga buddy for the remaining weekends in May. There's this nice new studio not far from where I work.

I've never done yoga before maybe we should just do the sex idea.

But you'd look amazing in yoga pants...that nice ass of yours would really be complemented well in yoga pants. So how about a combination of yoga on Sundays and sex after because seeing you in yoga pants will be my undoing.

Laughing at the last text Avery just shook her head.

Sounds like a deal. See ya tonight though babe.

After sending that Avery turned off her cell phone and soon headed inside. Now really needing that long bath especially after Paisley's sex talk. She was just kind of turned on and needed a place to get off without being interrupted.

Something that sometimes was hard in a house with five other people but her dad and Mac were gone on a fishing trip out of town this weekend so that only left three other people so maybe she would get some time alone in the bathroom without interruptions.

After coming out of the bathroom Avery who was already dressed in some much more relaxing clothes went to her dresser and looked into the mirror.

Reaching for a brush she brushed her hair before deciding to put it up into a tight bun. Knowing that for now she probably wouldn't nap.

Not when during her bath after getting off all she wanted to do was create art. Get started on the painting of the sun and the moon that was inspired by Paisley and their nicknames for each other.

So after her hair was done and up Avery went to her closet where she kept her extra canvases and grabbed one as well as her paints and brushes and once she had everything she assembled them all down in the floor in front of her bed.

Deciding that today she'd paint while sitting on the floor. Wanting to be as relaxed as possible since her nerves were still kind of crazy.

Double checking to make sure she had everything Avery smiled when she saw that she had and before sitting down to get started she went to her radio and cut it on. Slipping in that Tegan and Sara CD that Paisley had given her back in March.

Once the CD had started to play Avery went back to her art stuff and sat down. Beginning to get started as she let herself slip off into her art as well as the music and maybe thoughts of Paisley as well.

Her mind bringing up all their happy times together. The way Paisley held her after they had sex or the tiny little smile that she only really ever gave to Avery and no one else. Her blue-green eyes lighting up when she found good angles for pictures she really wanted to take or even when Avery gave her permission to hold her hand and kiss her in public places.

All things that made Paisley, Avery's safety net right now. Something that not even her best friends were at the moment which she was sure they didn't mind maybe. Cordelia may have minded some but she didn't complain anymore and she had Jane now.

Even if maybe she had been honest with Jane since Avery was convinced Jane hated her and was jealous of her.

Which was absurd because Avery only saw Cordelia as a friend right now. Nothing more and nothing less and she doubted it would change anytime soon.

Though maybe sometimes her mind did conjure up what ifs. What if she had just been honest with Cordelia then maybe she could have saved her heartbreak and they could be together right now. What if she had just turned Paisley's proposition down...maybe she could have went to Cordelia and again saved Cordelia heartbreak.

But again it was just what ifs and nothing could be changed by them. Not that she'd want them to be because she was happy and content with Paisley.

Someone who while making her feel safe was also dangerous and forbidden for her. Liked the thrill of sneaking around a bit maybe even if she did kind of also hate keeping her a secret.

Liked the way Paisley always challenged her to be a better version of herself while sometimes Cordelia coddled her and let her get by with shit way too much.

"That's a really good picture Avie," a voice spoke which startled Avery some and she blushed as she looked up to see her younger sister seated on her bed.

Finally realizing that maybe Jessica was right and maybe she did zone out when she painted but well she just had to get in the zone.

"T...thanks," Avery spoke hating the way her voice caught and her blush grew as she watched Zoe inspect her painting.

One that was basically now almost done except for adding a few minor details of the sky and the grass but overall she had already finished the sun and the moon kissing so she had done the most important parts of the painting.

"Didn't know the sun had blue-green eyes or that the moon had brown ones," Zoe piped up as she looked at Avery. "Or that they were in love and kissing."

Avery shrugged her shoulders, "Sometimes people like to say they're so in love with each other but can never really see each other," she stated hating the way her voice got all dreamy sounding mainly because Paisley had told her something similar once.

Zoe crinkled her nose up at that, "Sounds kind of stupid and pathetic."

Laughing softly Avery shook her head, "You'll understand some day when you're older and in love."

Again Zoe kept her nose crinkled, "I never want to be in love," she stated like her mind was made up and maybe a part of Avery hope she kept to her word.

"I'm sure mom and dad will be proud to hear that," Avery added on as she laughed some more. "I mean one of their kids not falling in love and making them panic."

"You make them panic and not with the boy you are in love with," Zoe reminded her as they locked eyes. "Just by having a friend they don't like."

"Correction by having a friend mom doesn't like," Avery told her because deep down she was sure their dad maybe didn't care as much. "Just mom."

Zoe seemed to go silent at that for awhile and during her silence Avery stood up and began to put her art supplies away. Leaving the painting on the floor so it could dry some.

"You should just end your friendship with Paisley," Zoe finally spoke as she broke the silence in Avery's room.

Well silence besides the CD which had been on repeat and was probably on it's third play through the whole album.

Turning to face Zoe, Avery chewed on her lip, "I should huh?" she asked her as she raised an eyebrow. "Just because mom wants me too?"

Zoe nodded her head yes, "Mom's always right about people and if she says Paisley is bad news she probably is."

"Mom isn't always right Zobug," Avery sighed knowing her sister would understand when she was older. "You'll understand when you get older," she stated before pasting on a smile. "Now come on out of my room I'm going to a friend's tonight and I don't trust you alone in my room you sneak."

Zoe laughed at that as she stood from the bed, being careful not to disturb the painting on the floor. "Who me a sneak?" she asked innocently as she batted her eyelashes and Avery knew if she was anyone but Zoe's older sister maybe she'd fall for her lines and her batting her eyelashes.

"Yeah, you," Avery teased her as she left the room with Zoe. Hoping that she could get out of the house without a third degree from her mom.

Though she suspected her mom would give her the third degree but Avery was sure she'd still be able to leave. After all she hadn't really broken any rules or stayed out past curfew since her parents had met Paisley and all her mom had was the flimsy Paisley was a lesbian trying to corrupt Avery line.

Flimsy only because Avery was already corrupted.

Chapter Text

May 2008

Avery sighed contently as she laid on Paisley's couch after they had finished their pizza as well as finishing watching the first Harry Potter movie.

Though neither made any effort to move. Instead they were both still tangled together on the couch. Their legs as intertwined as their fingers were and Avery was sure she'd be okay if they never moved. Except maybe to use the bathroom.

That would be her one exception. Otherwise they could just stay like this and maybe forget everything. Forget the world existed and they had other commitments and people who would care if they never saw their faces again.

"You okay?" Paisley spoke as she brought Avery out of her thoughts. "You've been unusually silent tonight and silence from you can be either good or bad Hanson."

Rolling her eyes Avery turned some to face the other girl, "Just been thinking," she told her honestly because she had been.

Besides wishing they could stay cuddled up on the couch forever her mind kept going to the conversation she had with Zac days ago. How she had promised to at least mention it to one of her friends and well maybe she should.

"Oh dear," Paisley muttered mocking concern. "You thinking usually means your silence is a bad silence."

Avery again rolled her eyes at that, "Shut up," she teased before taking a deep breath. "I was just thinking of something my brother Zac mentioned when he called me the other day and he'll probably find a way to hound me about it when he gets back from tour if I don't just mention it and get it over with."

"Mention what?" Paisley asked sounding slightly curious now.

"He thinks I shouldn't travel alone this summer and that I should ask one of my friends to come with me," Avery revealed feeling a bundle of nerves forming in her stomach. "I only really thought of you as an option because I know you'll be done with this semester by then and maybe you can take off work and travel with me for awhile."

Paisley fell silent at that and now she was the one with the faraway look, like she was thinking over Avery's words and Avery swore her nerves had grown even more at that.

Knowing that Paisley had every right to turn her down especially if she couldn't get off work. Which maybe it would be good if she did since Avery still wasn't positive how she could hide Paisley going from her parents.

"And your mom would be okay with me going?" Paisley questioned not really answering if she'd go. Just going right for the obvious and mentioning Avery's mom.

Knowing herself the woman would flip.

"No but I wasn't really planning on telling her," Avery admitted sheepishly as she felt her cheeks getting hot. "Was thinking maybe we could hide it somehow."

"You really are turning into a little rebel there Hanson," Paisley stated sounding amused now. "Wanting to keep another secret from your dear mother. She'll kill you if she finds out."

"She wouldn't kill me. She wouldn't want the shame of going to jail," Avery retorted knowing her mom would be too ashamed of going to jail to ever commit a crime.

Paisley shrugged at that before leaning in to peck Avery on the lips, "I'll see what I can do about trying to go," she muttered after she pulled away. "I don't even know where you plan on going and how long you plan to stay in places."

Avery smiled softly when Paisley said she'd see about trying to go. Feeling hopeful that her try would turn into her going with Avery in the end. Even if they did have to hide it from her mom.

"Well I plan to start off the trip in California," Avery admitted letting Paisley in on her plans. "I have a friend in Los Angeles who agreed to let me stay with them for two weeks. Then I plan on going to Paris for the rest of June and flying back to Tulsa for the fourth because my mom swears I have to be here for the family gathering we have on that day," she muttered with a roll of her eyes.

"Mustn't skip family gatherings," Paisley chuckled with a shake of her head. "And my birthday," she muttered out and Avery smiled more because yeah Paisley's birthday was on the fourth as well.

"We'll pretend that is the real reason I came back," Avery muttered. "If you don't go with me on the first leg that is. After that I plan on staying in Tulsa a week then flying out again. Going to New York for all of July and then in August I come back here for the whole month and after that my next planned traveling is whenever my brothers figure out their fall tour and have a show in North Carolina so I can see Juniper. I think she mentioned wanting Cordelia and I to visit her sometime before we both get too busy this fall."

Paisley pulled Avery a bit closer once she had got done rambling about her traveling schedule, "That sounds so exhausting to me but I know you'll love it," she said sounding like she believed her words. "Getting to get away from Tulsa and your family for awhile."

"Yeah, I think I need a break from both," Avery confessed feeling kind of awful for the family bit.

Because who needed breaks from their family? Weren't most people supposed to love being around family?

Then again most people didn't have her family so maybe she wasn't like most people.

"I'd agree with that," Paisley grinned before leaning in to kiss Avery again on the lips. "And like I said I'll see what I can do about going with you."

"I kind of hope you do go," Avery told her as she blushed again. "Think it'd be kind of neat traveling the world for a bit with the girl that I love," she spoke softly as she returned the kiss.

This time kissing her much longer as well as finding a way to maneuver Paisley onto her back with herself laying on top of her.

Her hand slowly sliding under the shirt that Paisley had on and soon she smirked into the kiss when she felt Paisley trembling beneath her the farther her hand went under the shirt.

"Problem?" Avery asked when she pulled away from the kiss, her eyes locking with Paisley's after she had asked that.

Her smirk growing bigger when she watched Paisley shoot her a playful glare.

"Yeah I'm supposed to be the one in charge right now," Paisley told her as she reached up to brush some of the hair that had fallen out of Avery's bun away from her face. "Not you."

Laughing Avery shrugged innocently as she soon pushed Paisley's shirt up to the point where Paisley had to help her take it off. "Guess I want to change the rules tonight," she whispered before letting her lips attach to Paisley's neck once the shirt was gone.

"Kind of want to be the one eating you tonight," Avery spoke as she let her breath hit Paisley's neck. Goosebumps soon forming on the skin soon after. "I like it you know. Eating your pussy," she continued in between kisses as her hand slowly went back down Paisley's body.

More goosebumps forming under the places that Avery touched, a result of the fact that Avery was doing it slowly and barely even using her fingers. Just the tips of them.

"Like your taste on my tongue babe," Avery told her honestly. "And the way you moan when I make you come with just my tongue."

After saying that Avery let her hand slip inside of the jeans that Paisley had on. A moan coming from the girl beneath her as she rubbed her through her panties.

"You want me to eat you out baby?" Avery questioned as she lightly nipped at Paisley's neck. "Want me to use my tongue to get you off?"

Paisley only nodded her head at that, her eyes falling shut as Avery kept rubbing her through her panties. Feeling them getting wetter as she kept it up.

Smirking at the lack of a verbal response Avery moved her lips away from Paisley's neck, "Words Chambers," she scolded teasingly using what Paisley did to her whenever she didn't speak verbally. "Use your words and let me know what you want."

Opening her eyes at that Paisley again shot Avery a playful glare and all Avery could do was smile sweetly down at her.

Liking that she could get Paisley this worked up and turned on. Liked knowing just how well she could please her girlfriend.

"You know I want you too," Paisley responded finally as her playful glare subsided a bit. "Though it's more like need. I need you to use your tongue and get me off. Need you between my legs soon, eating me out which you claim to love doing."

Avery raised an eyebrow at that, "You need me too huh?" she asked before letting her hand finally slip inside of Paisley's panties.

Another moan coming from Paisley's mouth before Paisley could even answer her.

"Yeah I guess you do need me too," Avery agreed after that as she leaned in and again kissed Paisley on the lips and this time as they kissed Avery let one of her fingers slide inside of Paisley.

Slowly beginning to fuck her with her finger for a bit. Liking the way that Paisley kissed her a bit more roughly as she did so. As well as liking the way her body trembled just a bit more when Avery let her finger move inside of Paisley a bit faster.

A second finger soon being added and when that happened Paisley pulled away from the kiss, doing nothing but muttering curses words as her head fell back farther into the couch.

A sight that Avery almost wished she had a camera to catch but instead she'd have to commit it to memory. Wanting to sketch it later at some point. Then hide the sketch away in the shoe box she had in her closet where she hid the letters that Paisley had wrote her as well as the picture she had taken of Paisley's ass when Paisley had been turned away from her to get the strap on from the dresser.

All being keepsakes that Avery planned to keep even if one day she and Paisley broke up. Just wanting the reminder that the relationship had happened in the first place.

Leaning down Avery kissed Paisley's neck again and this time as they kissed she slowed her fingers down before removing them completely.

Listening and feeling the vibrations as Paisley whined softly. Though her whine soon died down when Avery began to undo her jeans. Sliding them off along with her panties in a hurry.

Mainly because Avery just wanted to be between Paisley's legs doing what she liked to do best. Eating her girlfriend out. Tasting her on her tongue and making her orgasm.

After the jeans and panties were gone Avery let her lips move from Paisley's neck. Trailing kisses down her body as she went down towards her intended destination. Getting just a tiny thrill at the moans that Paisley made as Avery kissed her way down her body.

Knowing that maybe her ego was getting a bit big. Though Avery was sure it would eventually die down. She wasn't a diva after all and she knew having too big of an ego was a bad thing.

A tiny one couldn't be that bad could it?

She didn't think so but maybe she should ask Taylor at some point. See what he said and then she'd figure it out...maybe.

Making it to her destination Avery paused only once to look up at Paisley with a tiny smirk before leaving two light kisses on either of her thighs. Something that got a whine out of Paisley.

Which did nothing but amuse Avery whose smirk grew before she leaned in and finally attached her mouth to Paisley's pussy. Using her tongue to leave tiny licks in certain places that she knew drove her crazy which resulted in loud moans instead of whines now.

Moans as well as Paisley bucking her hips and Avery moved her hands up to hold Paisley still. Continuing to use her tongue to make her girlfriend happy.

Her eyes falling shut as she did so. Letting herself go to the sensations she was feeling too and also just enjoying the taste.

It was something Avery knew wasn't for everyone but she really did enjoy it. Loved getting to taste Paisley against her tongue and knowing that for now she was the only one who got to do this. The only one who hopefully would be doing this for awhile.

Tasting Paisley and making her feel good. Making her orgasm sometimes more than once.

Avery came out of her own head though when she felt Paisley pulling on her hair and she opened her eyes slowly, looking up at her girlfriend as she let her mouth finally latch onto Paisley's clit. Licking and sucking on it softly.

Feeling a bit proud of herself when Paisley shut her eyes tightly and let her head fall back into the couch again. Avery knowing in her gut it wouldn't be long before Paisley reached her end.

Because of course by now she knew the telltale signs that Paisley was close. Knew the way Paisley reacted and her body reacted.

Just like Paisley knew all those things about her too. There really was no one else who knew her body better except for her and it was wrong but Avery again wished it could stay that way. Knowing it would only be possible if they were like her parents and stayed together forever.

Forever which was a mighty big word and mighty longtime for a seventeen and twenty-year old.

But then again her parents had been much younger and they had made it last this long. Though Avery doubted they'd be so willing to share their secrets once they knew she was in love with a love with Paisley.

Hearing Paisley mutter curse words as her body went pliant on the couch Avery continued to suck on her clit. At least until her orgasm subsided.

Waiting until it did to move out from between Paisley's legs and lay back down beside her on the couch. A mischievous grin playing on her lips.

"You like that Pai?" she asked a bit playfully as she locked eyes with Paisley. "Because I'm not sure you did."

Paisley only rolled her eyes as she reached out to pull Avery closer, "You know I did," she laughed as she left a kiss on Avery's cheek. "Now cuddle with me you fully clothed woman."

Laughing as well Avery obliged Paisley. Though she had a feeling that before this was over that she'd end up naked because their cuddling would probably lead to another round of sex.

Something she wasn't opposed to at all.

Maybe even wanted because sex with Paisley was always a plus in her eyes.

Chapter Text

May 2008

"So you really passed?" Cordelia asked excitedly from the other end of the phone and even without seeing her face Avery could almost picture her cheesy smile that she had.

"I really passed," Avery nodded her head confirming her previous words when she had first called Cordelia.

Letting her best friend know that she had gotten the results of her tests today and she had passed her GED stuff. She was officially graduated and out of school and she could travel this summer. Something that she was nervous on and also excited for before because Paisley had texted her yesterday to let her know she worked out a way that she could come.

Just for the month of June though and when they came back to Tulsa in July she'd have to stay but Avery could handle it and hopefully Zac would be happy now.

Though somehow she'd have to find a way to procure Zac's silence on Avery having a travel buddy because there was no way in hell Avery was telling her mom. Knowing Diana would question it until she got the truth from Avery and then she'd find a way to cancel the road trip.

Of that Avery was positive. Just like she was positive that she and Paisley would think of a way not to run into each other at the airport the day they left Tulsa. A feat that could maybe be okay.

The airport in Tulsa was big enough and they could text each other in advance just to be on the safe side.

"We need to celebrate then," Cordelia spoke bringing Avery out of her thoughts. "Jane and I were going to go to an open mic night at the coffeehouse downtown but maybe we can change plans and party instead. Does that sound good to you Avie?"

Avery only sighed softly at Cordelia's question, "I wish we could but mom wants the whole family to go out to some nice restaurant and eat. My brother's are back from tour now and she's already called all their wives this morning and got the okay."

"Of course she has," Cordelia laughed. "Your mom always springing last minute things on everyone."

"Yep," Avery nodded her head as she laughed some as well. "Maybe we can celebrate tomorrow though since mom wants this to be mostly family."

"Tomorrow sounds good to me," Cordelia told her and Avery hoped she was telling the truth.

That somehow thanks to her mom she hadn't hurt Cordelia's feelings without meaning too or anything.

"Good," Avery replied back as she checked the time on the clock in her room. "I should go though. Need to start getting ready for the dinner tonight."

"Yeah, yeah have fun tonight with the fam," Cordelia spoke and after that they both bidded each other goodbye before hanging up.

Avery laying her cell phone down on the bed so that she could find something nice to wear and then go shower and get ready.

Already feeling slightly nervous about going out to eat with all her family because it was the first time in a long time that they'd all be there and a few of them knew bits and pieces about her lies.

Isaac, Taylor, and Zoe knowing the most and what if somehow everything just spilled out. An irrational fear Avery knew but one she had none the less.

Before she could finish the task of finding her clothes though, Avery heard a small knock on the door and as she turned her head she saw her mom coming inside with a smile on her face. A smile that did nothing to settle Avery's nerves.

More like it made her nerves even worse than what they already were.

"I hope you don't mind me coming in," Diana spoke as she walked to where Avery was. "I just wanted to let you know that after talking it over with your dad we have decided that you can invite Jeremy along to the dinner tonight. Since he is your boyfriend and all," she smiled like she was proud of that information. "Just like you can invite one of your friends to come too. I'm sure it will be Paisley but for tonight I will be the better person and accept her there."

Avery fell silent at her mom's words. Not sure at first how to even respond to them because honestly she hadn't expected to be allowed to have anyone other than family present.

She knew sometimes how strict her mom could be on events being just family. So Avery couldn't help but wonder if maybe her father had fought to get that changed. At least just this time for Avery's sake which if that were the case then she'd thank her lucky stars for that.

"And what if I don't want to invite Jeremy and just want to invite a friend?" Avery mused wondering how that would turn out.

Because deep down she really didn't want to invite Jeremy. Nor was she sure if Jeremy would even want to come.

Her mom paused at that her smile only faltering for a second, "Then that will be okay honey," she nodded her head and even though she said it would be okay Avery knew deep down it wouldn't be.

Her mom wanted her to invite Jeremy especially since she was so convinced that Avery was also going to invite Paisley along.

A part of Avery finally wondering if her mom wanted Jeremy there to prove some point. That Avery was straight and Paisley couldn't corrupt her but then again the joke was on her mom since Paisley knew Jeremy was gay. Was even friends with Jeremy and his boyfriend.

"I'll decide then what to do as I'm getting ready," Avery spoke as she gave her mom a fake smile.

Her words being enough that it seemed to settle her mom again. Enough that her mom turned to leave and after she had Avery sighed in relief.

Before turning back and trying to decide on an outfit to wear though she was now also trying to decide what to do with who to invite.

Wondering if she truly wanted to invite Jeremy to keep peace because deep down she knew she'd invite Paisley. It'd be a nice break from all the studying her girlfriend was doing even if the idea of letting Paisley finally meet the rest of her family all at once terrified her.

Especially when it came to the prospect of her seeing Isaac and Taylor. Both who had seen the blurry pictures of them kissing even if they had been too blurry to truly identify Paisley and Avery had been barely identifiable except for a dress that she hadn't worn since that day.

A dress she skipped over tonight as she continued to search her closet for clothes.

Sitting at a table in the restaurant Avery nervously chewed on her lip as she looked from Paisley to Jeremy. The two people she was seated beside at the table and she knew this experience was not what any of them wanted but yet here they all were.

Taking part in a fake rouse just to keep Avery's family blind to the real deal behind the scenes. A rouse that had Avery and Jeremy pretending to be a couple still and one that was actually easier to fake now then when they had actually tried dating.

Both her and Jeremy seemingly falling into the acting nicely. They had even shared a few cheek kisses too just for show.

But after the last one Avery noticed how off Paisley was. How she was no longer playing the role of a new friend who was meeting her friends boyfriend for the first time.

Instead she had fallen silent mostly. Only really talking to Kate who was seated across from her or even Zac who it seemed like his wife had taken an interest in Paisley.

Avery was sure she had even heard them talking politics at first which amused her because Paisley was a full blown liberal and Zac bless his heart was a die hard conservative and it was clear on some issues they'd probably never see eye to eye.

Which was one reason Avery kept her political beliefs to herself. Knowing that most of them right now didn't really line up with her family's. Because more than likely she too was a bit more liberal because in the end she'd probably vote for anyone over a Republican.

"Are you okay?" Avery questioned as she leaned into Paisley some, so that Paisley could hear her over the loud voices at the table that all belonged to someone in Avery's family.

Paisley turned to look at Avery, a smile on her face though it was a fake one. Avery knew that much because her eyes didn't have the same shine they normally did. The shine that could make Avery weak in the knees and create butterflies in her stomach.

"I'm fine Avery," she spoke and her words even came out strained. "Why wouldn't I be? Your family besides your mom is mostly lovely and you look great with Jeremy," she said as her eyes moved from Avery to the boy beside her. "So I'm fine," she nodded before going silent.

Avery knowing now that the issue was with Jeremy and probably her and now Avery was even regretting inviting Jeremy just to keep peace with her mom and make her happy.

Hated that somehow something had happened to make her girlfriend upset but of course Avery knew better than to question farther so she just fell silent.

Watching everyone around her. Kate who was once again in a conversation with Paisley though Kate herself was doing more of the talking.

Zac who was seated beside his wife, picking away at the salad he had ordered. Almost treating his salad like it was an enemy instead of something he needed to eat to live.

Which made Avery wonder if he was sick or just not hungry. But of course she didn't question him either and still remained silent.

Just letting everyone else in her family do the talking as she stewed over her own bad feelings. Hoping that Paisley would eventually tell her what was wrong so they could fix things.

But for now she'd give her time to do whatever she needed to mentally as well. Either come to terms with what was bothering her or let it eat her up and Avery really hoped she came to terms with it.

Again so that they could talk and work through it.

"Is everything okay with your friend?" Isaac asked Avery an hour later as most of the family was now outside saying goodbye as they all piled into the cars they came in.

Zac and Kate having left first, Kate saying something about being tired which no one could blame her for because she was in the last weeks of her pregnancy...or last days really now.

"What?" Avery asked as she crinkled her forehead some at Isaac's question, surprised her older brother had even really paid attention to Paisley.

They had been at opposite ends of the table and Isaac had seemed more into his conversation with their dad than anything happening on the other end of the table.

"Just she left in a hurry and let's be honest we all know our family can be crazy," Isaac laughed as he gave Avery a knowing look. "I really hope we haven't scared away one of your friends," he shrugged as if that was explanation enough for his question.

Avery shook her head giving Isaac a tiny smile, "She's fine," she told him hoping that her words were true. "I mean she endured a dinner at our house with mom and dad already once so if she can do that I'm positive she'll survive and come around after tonight."

"I hope so," Isaac told her sounding sincere. "She seemed nice enough from what I saw of her, though I swear I've seen her somewhere else before."

Swallowing hard at Isaac's words, Avery thought back to the pictures that Isaac had printed off and gave to Taylor to talk to Avery about.

"That's crazy Ike," Avery laughed and god did she hope it was a convincing one. "You probably have never seen her anywhere before."

Isaac just gave Avery a look at that, like he wanted to argue with her on the subject but before he could say anything Nikki had hollered for him and Isaac sighed softly before turning to head to their car.

Get his wife and his sons home before it got too late and after he left Avery let out a tiny breath.

Feeling relieved that the conversation was over before Isaac could realize that he had indeed seen part of Paisley before in pictures with Avery.

Turning on her heel Avery soon headed to her parents SUV because she had opted to ride with them instead of taking her own car tonight.

But again as she walked to the car her mind went to Paisley and again she just wanted to get past whatever had happened at the dinner that had made her uncomfortable.

Made her shut down for the last part of the dinner.

Chapter Text

May 2008

Avery huffed out a breath of air, the bangs that had been settled neatly on her face after putting her hair up into a half ponytail flying up.

"You know Jessie should be here helping us clean out the pool house," Mac spoke up from where he was not far from Avery in the kitchen area.

Zoe having been regulated to one of the two bathrooms to clean it.

"Yeah well she isn't. She used her boyfriend as an excuse to get out of helping us clean the pool house," Avery retorted knowing the cleaning of the pool house was a monthly thing.

Though lately their parents had gotten a bit lax on actually making them keep up with cleaning it but now since they had decided to let Kate and Zac stay in the pool house for a few weeks after Shepherd's birth. Something their mom said was just so they could cope with being new parents while having some help, they had finally decided to make the younger kids clean out the pool house.

Get things ready for whenever Kate went into labor and they had to come and stay here and somehow Jessica had made up last minute some plans she had with Joe. Something Avery had deduced without having to pull a Zoe and snoop to get her information.

Jessica was a pretty bad liar and when she had spoken about the plans this morning and did her weird hand twirl thing with a strand of her hair, Avery knew her sister had been lying. Getting out of cleaning the pool house and leaving Avery, Mac, and Zoe with the brunt of the work.

Mac chuckled at that, "I'm kind of shocked you didn't try that," he spoke as he turned to look at her. "Use Jeremy to get out of this or even using Paisley to get out of this."

"Why would I use Paisley?" Avery asked with an amused smile. Not sure why Mac's thought would be she would use Paisley to get out of house work.

Mac looked away from her with a blush on his cheeks which only made Avery's amusement grow because it was rare that Mac got embarrassed over something. "I know about you two," he stated his voice going softer now and Avery paused as she eyed him.

Feeling like her whole heart had stopped but surely he didn't mean what it sounded like he meant. There was no way he knew.

Yeah Zoe thought she knew something but Avery trusted that her sister would keep her mouth shut. At least she tried to trust that because Zoe was ten and naive and maybe hopefully loved her enough to keep whatever she thought a secret.

Just like she hoped the same from Isaac and Taylor too.

"Know about us?" Avery asked finally feigning confusion hopefully to throw him off in case he thought he knew the truth.

Mac looked back at her almost skeptically as the blush stayed on his cheek, "That you two were arguing last night," he spoke fast almost like he had came up with his words last minute. "Thought you'd want to fix things with her because she seems special to you."

Avery smiled sadly when Mac said that Paisley seemed special to her. "She is special to me," she nodded her head. "She may also be mad at me but we'll fix things when she is ready so I know not to go and force myself upon her when she doesn't want to see me."

"But why?" Mac asked curiously. "You do it all the time with Juniper and Cordelia when they are mad at you and I know they've done the same to you."

"Because Paisley is different than them," Avery shrugged hoping that was answer enough for Mac and it seemed to be because after that Mac fell silent and they went back to cleaning.

Avery being so in the zone that when her phone rang out some time later it made her jump some before she realized it was her phone and she looked around to make sure that Mac hadn't seen her and that Zoe was still in the bathroom.

Feeling relieved when it seemed she hadn't been seen, Avery reached for her cell phone again without having to check the id because she knew from the ringtone that it was Juniper calling.

"Hello?" Avery asked into the receiver as she quickly moved to head outside to keep Mac and Zoe from hearing her conversation.

"You know I'm mad at you Avery Laurel Hanson," Juniper stated first thing after Avery said hello.

Though even with her saying she was mad Avery suspected she wasn't really mad. She didn't have her usual mad tone to her voice.

"Mad at me?" Avery asked confused as to why Juniper would even be not so mad at her though claim she was. "What have I done now Junie?"

"Not you per say," Juniper clarified. "But your girlfriend interrupted Cal and I, last night as we were fooling around. Came to Cal's all huffy and angry and I got the boot so Cal could console her friend and I suspect Paisley was all huffy because of you."

Avery was rendered silent at that. Sad over the fact that Paisley was as upset as she was. Upset enough that she ran to her best friend.

"It's sorta because of me," Avery confirmed with a nod of her head, though Juniper couldn't see her. "I maybe invited her out to my family's dinner celebration for me passing my GED tests and I may have also invited Jeremy just to keep mom happy and I don't think Pai liked us playing boyfriend and girlfriend or she stopped liking it after one too many cheek kisses."

Juniper sighed softly almost like a disappointed mother would sound like, "Oh Avie," she muttered and Avery could picture perfectly the way Juniper shook her head when she was upset. "You didn't."

"I did," Avery responded almost guilty as she looked down at the pavement that she stood on, walking a bit closer to the pool. "I know I shouldn't have but I just I wanted Pai there and I knew the only way I'd truly be able to have her there would be to invite Jeremy too."

"But you didn't have to act all lovey dovey with him," Juniper reminded her which made her guilt worse.

"No probably not," Avery conceded with a tiny sigh. "But I knew if we didn't my family would get suspicious and acting was easier now that we both know we're gay."

"I'm sure it was," Juniper stated plainly. "But I can see how it would hurt your girlfriend's feelings. I know it would hurt mine if my girlfriend who couldn't be able to show how she feels for me openly decided to act straight with her fake boyfriend in front of me. Even if I knew it was to make her family happy. It would just hurt deep down on some level."

Avery frowned slightly as she ran a hand through her bangs, pushing them up, "Well how do I fix this then Junie?"

"I wish I knew something to tell you but honestly I have nothing Avie," Juniper spoke and she sounded almost regretful. "I'm sure you'll think of something though. You're a smart girl."

"A smart girl who has been making dumb decisions for the past several months now," Avery added on knowing that lately she just wasn't herself but she blamed it on everything that was changing thanks to what she now knew about herself.

That and keeping Paisley a secret was taking a toll. But sadly she just wasn't ready to come out to her family especially not when her mom was so against even the idea of Avery being gay...especially when it came to Paisley because there was an even bigger chance she'd react worse if she knew Avery was indeed gay and dating Paisley.

"Maybe but I know you'll still figure something out," Juniper reassured her and how Avery hoped she was telling the truth.

"I hope so because I really love her Juniper. Like the head over feet kind of love," Avery said knowing she was in so deep.

Deep enough that sometimes it scared her to think about the relationship ending.

"Then I know you'll figure something out if you love her that much Ave. Now I gotta run I have a lunch date planned with Cal if your girlfriend doesn't have her preoccupied still."

Avery laughed softly at that, a sad sounding laugh, "No, she has to work this afternoon so she shouldn't have your girlfriend hijacked anymore Junie," she told her and after saying that both Avery and Juniper muttered a quick goodbye before hanging up.

Avery pocketing her phone as she turned and headed back into the pool house. Finding both Mac and Zoe in the main room just sitting on the couch.

"Okay enough being lazy you two," Avery told them, watching as they both groaned and rolled their eyes. "We have to get back to work and finish cleaning but how about after we go out shopping and for an early dinner? My treat."

Mac stood from the couch as he eyed Avery, "Shopping where?" he asked sounding almost apprehensive because of course he would he was a fourteen year old boy and most didn't like the idea of shopping, especially with girls.

"A record store," Avery answered knowing Mac would hopefully be fine with that. "I mean if that meets your standards."

"Can we go to a video game store too?" Mac asked with a hopeful look on his face. One Avery didn't want to crush.

"Sure," Avery smiled softly. "Then we'll go to Panda Express after."

Mac grinned all big at that, "Then it's a deal," he told her and his words made Zoe huff some.

"But what if I don't want to go?" Zoe asked from where she still sat on the couch.

"It's free food food on your very kind older sister," Mac told her as he looked at Avery, his grin still staying on his face. "How often does she offer free food out of the goodness of her heart?"

"Hey," Avery yelped as she reached out and swatted Mac playfully. "Be nice or I'll make you pay for yourself and only treat Zoe."

Mac laughed at that but turned back to Zoe who still seemed hesitant, "Oh come on Zobug," he pleaded as he dropped his smile for a pout. A pout Avery knew he was only putting on for show to win Zoe over. "Come with us for me. Your favorite older brother in the whole wide world."

Avery had to look away at that, chuckling softly at how much Mac was laying it on just to get Zoe to agree.

"Fine," Zoe spoke as she stood from the couch. "I'll go with you guys but if I don't have fun you guys are gonna hear it on the way back home."

"Oh trust me Zoe," Mac stated as he walked to her and slung an arm over her shoulder. "We'll have fun. When have I ever let you down?"

Chapter Text

May 2008

Making it to the record store Avery parked her car and undid her seat belt, looking at Zoe and Mac before they all got out.

"Now you two better be good in there," she told them trying her best stern voice though she was sure she was failing at it.

"And if we're not?" Mac asked her with a raised eyebrow and Avery kept her glare. Knowing that he was testing her, trying to get under her skin. "Are you going to ground us or tell mom and dad?"

Avery smirked as she shook her head, "No but again I'll make you pay for your own meal and we won't go to the video game store either," she told him honestly before moving to get out, watching as her younger siblings got out too and the minute they had she lead the way inside.

Slowing down once she was inside as her eyes went to the front counter where Paisley was seated on a stool she usually kept behind the counter. A book in her hand which meant today was probably a slow day. She only read books on slow days.

Chewing her lip Avery took in a breath as she saw Zoe and Mac had already wandered off to browse through the Cd's which meant she luckily didn't need an excuse to tell them about why she was leaving them alone. A fact that made her let out the breath she had taken in.

Walking to the counter where Paisley was and when she made it there she wasn't surprised when Paisley didn't lower the book that she was reading to look at her.

"Can we talk?" Avery asked sounding hopeful.

"I don't know, can we?" Paisley asked clearly mocking Avery as she kept the book in front of her face and Avery gave her a tiny glare.

Hating how stubborn Paisley could be at times and of course it figured she'd fall for someone so stubborn. Obviously God if he existed had a damn sense of humor.

"Funny," Avery stated as she moved to push Paisley's book down which got Paisley to look at her. "Please talk to me."

Paisley returned Avery's glare, "I'm talking are you happy now Hanson?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.''

"Again, funny," Avery told her as she rolled her eyes. "Please tell me why you're upset. Juniper told me you ran to Cal last night after you left the dinner."

Sighing Paisley moved her head some to look over at Zoe and Mac who were going down the aisles, looking at Cd's. "You really want to talk about this where they can hear?" she questioned as she lowered her voice slightly.

"No but maybe we can go somewhere private?" Avery asked as she eyed the door to the back. "Please."

Again Paisley sighed before standing up, "If I get in trouble for this I am going to be even more pissed at you," she stated which of course Avery suspected as much.

"I know you will be," Avery told her as she followed her towards the back room and when they made it there, Avery crossed her arms. Looking at Paisley expectantly.

"I am upset okay," Paisley told her as she finally began to talk. "And it has to do with Jeremy."

Avery raised an eyebrow at that, "Jeremy? Really?" she asked almost wanting to laugh but she didn't out of fear of making Paisley more upset. "But he's gay and you know that. You're friends with his boyfriend for god sakes," she said with a shake of her head.

"I know he is and while I am upset with him it's less to do with him and more to do with how well you fell into acting straight," Paisley explained as she crossed her arms over her chest. "I kept thinking what if this is just a phase for you. What if one day you wake up and decide that hey I actually really like guys and this girl thing was just a phase and then I'm the one who is going to get hurt in the end."

Frowning as she listened to Paisley, Avery moved to reach out for her. Her hand resting on Paisley's cheek softly and she was comforted by the fact that Paisley didn't pull away from her touch. Instead she leaned into it like maybe she needed Avery's touch.

"It's not a phase," Avery told her honestly knowing now full well this wasn't one for her. "I'm a lesbian Paisley and just because acting was so easy for me it doesn't mean I am really secretly straight. Please trust me with that."

Paisley chewed on her lip as she locked eyes with Avery and Avery could see the war inside of her. How she was trying to decide what she believed. "I want too," she finally spoke and her voice was softer now. "God do I want too."

"Then do," Avery muttered as she leaned in even closer, leaving a peck on Paisley's lips. "I'm a lesbian and I'm in love with you and I swear on my life I'm not going to wake up one day and realize different," she spoke trying to reassure Paisley. "Please believe me babe," she added on before resting her forehead against Paisley's.

Paisley again chewed on her lip before a small smile appeared on her lips, "Okay," she spoke and Avery knew just from her tone she felt like she was taking a big risk. "I believe you," she stated her words making Avery smile as well.

Hoping that maybe this meant they were past this. They were past it and could move on and be happy again.

"Really?" Avery questioned just wanting to be sure.

"Really," Paisley told her before leaning in and kissing her again and this time the kiss was longer than a peck and Avery let her eyes flutter shut.

Allowing herself to be happy that they were okay again and maybe even allowing herself to forget that her siblings were still somewhere in the record store. Which could be potentially bad since they were unattended and had a tendency to make a mess of things when left alone for too long.

But she really hoped that maybe they wouldn't do that when she had so much trust in them. Maybe more trust than she should have had.

Biting down on Paisley's lip when she felt Paisley push her against the wall, Avery let her arms go around Paisley tighter. A moan softly coming out as Paisley's hand soon traveled up and under her shirt, creating goosebumps on her skin as it did so.

"My siblings," Avery stated as she pulled away almost finally coming to her senses. "They're going to get suspicious if I am gone for too long."

Paisley pouted slightly at Avery's words though she didn't move any so that Avery could move. "Just a few more minutes," she spoke in a pleading tone. "Give me a few more kisses," she continued as her pout grew.

"You know I can't say no to you," Avery told her with a tiny smile before leaning in and kissing her again. Hating sometimes just how weak she was for the other girl.

Just like she hated how cocky that made Paisley.

"I know," Paisley stated into the kiss. "Especially when I pout," she muttered before smirking and kissing Avery a bit deeper.

Her tongue finding its way into Avery's mouth and once again Avery let her eyes flutter shut as she got lost in the kiss. A part of her wishing they could have a bit longer together but she knew they couldn't. She had her siblings with her and Paisley needed to get back to work.

Even if it was a slow day at work for Paisley.

Moaning again as Paisley's hand went back under her shirt, Avery closed her eyes tighter. Wanting all the touches she could get from Paisley as possible. Not sure when she'd be able to get them again as after this Paisley went back to her own study hell.

Her final week of finals coming up soon and just like Avery she had been busy and hiding away from the world and Avery knew she'd be happy when Paisley's finals were done because she'd get her girlfriend back and well also it'd be another step closer to the trip.

A trip they'd both be on together away from Tulsa and that in and of itself also made Avery happy. Feeling like she needed a vacation away from everything and everyone here in Tulsa. Felt like it would do her good for a bit.

When Paisley pulled away from the kiss Avery was the one who pouted this time even if she knew they needed to stop before things could progress and they were back here way too long.

"Better get back to your siblings and I need to get back to work," Paisley reminded her as she finally moved away from Avery, adjusting her clothes some and Avery blushed before doing the same.

As well as fixing her hair because it had gotten messed up some too. After she felt like everything was fixed Avery left the back room first, followed by Paisley who went back to her spot behind the counter and Avery went back to her siblings both of whom just eyed her curiously.

"So did you kiss and makeup?" Mac asked curiously with a raised eyebrow and Avery blushed at his words.

"Something like that," Avery told him hating how close to the truth he actually was. "But we're fine now," she nodded as she smiled wide. "You two ready or?"

"Nah we're ready," Mac said as he looked at the CD in his hands. "Just going to get this for Zoe and then we can go," he told her and Avery smiled more as she watched Mac go pay for the CD.

Finding it a bit cute he was buying a CD for their younger sister but then again Zac had bought her Cd's before. Had bought her the CD the Travis song was on that they had danced too that one day. Said she needed to get educated on good music.

Which she had but she'd never let Zac know that.

Chapter Text

May 2008

Avery sat at the table in Taco Bueno, fiddling with her phone as she waited for Jeremy to show up. Wanting to keep constant vigil on her phone in case Kate had the baby while she was meeting Jeremy. A meeting she had planned just last night.

Mere hours before they had gotten the call at six in the morning that Kate's water had broken and Zac was taking her to the birthing center they were using.

Avery almost wanting to be there but knowing she had to be here. Had put off this meeting with Jeremy for too long but one that had been on her mind since the graduation celebration dinner and Paisley getting upset at how well she played straight with Jeremy.

Not wanting to have something like that happen again. Not to mention both she and Jeremy had people now so it wasn't like they really needed each other.

Hearing the door open Avery looked up quickly, feeling relief when she saw Jeremy coming inside.

"Sorry I'm late," Jeremy apologized as he sat down in front of her. "Had to run some errands for mom first."

"It's okay," Avery smiled as she shook her head. "You showed up and that's all that matters," she told him honestly as she laid her phone aside. "Even if you were late."

Jeremy laughed some at that before taking a breath, "So we're going to talk before eating?" he questioned with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah we are," Avery answered as she made a face. "Though it shouldn't be a long talk. I mean you probably know why I'm here..why I wanted to meet up."

"I have my suspicions," Jeremy spoke as he lowered his eyebrow. "You want to stop the fake relationship," he said before she could even tell him and he was right.

That was indeed what she wanted from him.

"You'd be correct," Avery told him. "I think we should stop our rouse and just tell people we broke up. I mean we both said it would be until we came out or we both had someone and we both have someone now. You have Tyler and I have Paisley and I just think this whole thing should end."

"No, I agree," Jeremy said sounding almost relieved. "Tyler told me about how Paisley got hurt a few weeks back and I keep thinking what if that had been Tyler. I don't want it to be so I agree that we should end things. Before we both go crazy or end up losing the people we love."

Avery smiled sadly at his words because deep down she had been afraid that she had came close to losing Paisley. Glad that in the end she had fixed things and smoothed things over. Things being better now between them.

Nothing not even Avery's family having done anything to create drama between them lately.

"Well since we have came to this decision I think we can eat now," Avery told him right after her stomach grumbled and ruined the silence between them. "Lunch is on me."

Jeremy raised an eyebrow at that, "On you huh?" he asked curiously. "You must be in a good mood today."

"I am," Avery admitted as she stood from the table, grabbing her cell phone. "I'm going to be an aunt again. Kate's in labor as we speak and soon Zac's going to be a dad," she said feeling slightly weird having said that.

Yet she had perfect confidence that Zac would be a good dad. He had been a good big brother even if at times he was slightly crazy.

But then again weren't all Hanson's slightly crazy?

"Is it weird?" Avery asked as she sat outside of the hospital in Zac's car with him. Sharing a celebratory joint with her brother over the birth of his new son.

A baby boy named John Ira Shepherd Hanson or just Shepherd. Shepherd who was only a few hours old now.

"Being a dad?" Zac asked as he handed the joint to her, reaching to turn up the song they were listening too. Some old Tom Petty song that Avery was sure Zac hated yet tonight it seemed right since they were smoking what was mentioned in the song.

Avery nodded in response, taking a hit off the joint. But remaining silent.

"Slightly," Zac answered and at that Avery handed him the joint again. "Think I'm more nervous then finding everything weird."

Raising her eyebrows at that Avery just looked at Zac, "Nervous?" she asked him as she laughed but stopped when she realized from the look on Zac's face he was being honest. "Why are you nervous for Zachary?" she questioned using his full name.

"What if I screw my kid up Avie baby?" Zac asked her sounding like he genuinely believed he would. "I'm nervous for that. For one day realizing that somehow I screwed up my own kid. Ruined him somehow or something."

"You ruin someone?" Avery asked him clearly in disbelief that he even thought he could ruin anyone. "Zac you're not going to ruin anyone least of all your own son."

"I ruin myself daily," Zac muttered under his breath and Avery wasn't sure if she was supposed to hear him or not.

One reason why she opted to stay silent at that, only heaving a sigh as she took the joint from him again and finished it off.

"You're not going to ruin Shep," Avery spoke again as she gave Zac a sad little smile. "I mean just look at me and Mac. We're close to you and you haven't ruined us yet," she told him a bit teasingly watching as he finally gave her a tiny smile.

Not much of one but it was something. Made Avery feel a bit better to see him smile.

"Like you said, yet," Zac said as his smile grew. "Though speaking of you, have you done what I asked you when I called on tour?" he asked and that question alone proved to Avery that Zac wouldn't screw up with Shepherd.

Not when he was so attentive on her safety and the thought of not liking her traveling alone.

Avery chewed on her lip as she looked away from him. Afraid to confirm that she had, afraid to tell him that Paisley would be coming with her.

"I have," she finally spoke breaking her own silence. "I talked to Paisley, my friend you had political debates with when we went out to eat as a family to celebrate my graduation and she agreed to come with me. Though she can only come on the first leg. Can't take too much time off work."

Zac took a deep breath at that, like he didn't like that it would only be the first leg. "Guess it's better than nothing," he said his words confirming what Avery had thought. "Just expect me to be contacting you more on the second leg. To make sure you're alive and everything."

"Oh I will," Avery laughed as she playfully nudged his shoulder with her own. "Expect you to do it on the first leg too even if I am going to have Paisley with me."

"You know me too well Avie baby," Zac laughed as he undid his seat belt and moved to get out of the car. "Come on though let's go see my son again. Kind of miss him already."

Avery grinned at that silently getting out of the car as well, following Zac inside and hating the fact that one day she wanted this for herself.

A family of some kind with some woman her brain conjuring up thoughts of Paisley. Even if the relationship may never last but still Avery wanted this one day. A partner and a baby and a family to call her own that she could gush and worry over.

But for now she'd still be a seventeen year old girl terrified of everything falling apart if her sexuality came to light.

Chapter Text

June 2008

"I don't know why they make such early flights," Walker grumbled from where he sat beside Avery in the Starbucks that was at the airport. "They should be illegal."

Avery laughed softly as she sipped on her coffee, "You could have just let mom bring me," she told him knowing her dad had volunteered to bring her this morning when it had been decided last week that she'd take an early morning flight to California.

That way she could maybe have more time to sight see and do things with Hannah, the friend who she'd be staying with while in California.

A friend who she had known through ballet and stayed in semi contact with even after Hannah had moved out to California. A friend who maybe she had also came out to via a text two days ago because she didn't really want to hide her relationship with Paisley while they were traveling together.

Wanted to be out and open since they never could here in Tulsa.

"I could have but I wanted to see you off. Give you the safety of traveling alone talk," Walker smiled as he locked eyes with her. "That and I feel like I've seen so little of you lately and I know things with your mom are strained when well before you and her were so close."

Looking down at her coffee cup Avery sighed, "Strained is probably an understatement," she muttered out knowing sometimes things felt more than strained. "I just wish she'd give Paisley more of a chance than what she has. Paisley isn't that bad dad."

"I don't think Paisley is bad Ave," Walker spoke his words shocking Avery some. "Your mom may not like her but that doesn't mean I dislike her. I see that since you two have been friends you seem happier. You actually get out of the house more and she has seemed to help cure you from being brokenhearted over your break up with Jeremy that you had mere days ago."

"Yeah she did help with that," Avery lied as she took a sip from her coffee. "I just wish mom saw all the things you did but instead all she see's is Paisley's sexuality."

"And you know why she does. You know what the church teaches Avery," Walker reminded her and Avery nodded because she did know.

Her mom had reminded her of it the first night she met Paisley.

"But what if..well I mean what if I was gay dad?" Avery asked as she watched him trying to read him though his face stayed neutral.

A look he must have mastered long ago to keep his true feelings on things hidden from her mom.

"If you were gay then you were gay Avie. You'd still be my daughter either way," Walker answered his voice going softer.

Avery wondering if he was being genuine or not or if he was lying to her.

But then again why would he lie? It wasn't like he knew that she really was gay. But before she could speak up he finished his own coffee and stood from the table.

"We better go they will be calling your flight soon," Walker told her and Avery nodded as she stood up following behind him and as they left the Starbucks they both threw their cups away.

Avery's being half full but she couldn't finish because her nerves about the trip were starting to get to her now that it was becoming more of a reality. In a matter of minutes really now she'd be on a flight heading to California where she'd stay for a few weeks before flying off to Paris.

Places that she'd also get to explore with her girlfriend, the girl that she loved and a girl who she still pathetically imagined forever with.

Though as they walked Walker turned to look at her, "I'll try to get your mom to come around some," he told her as he gave her a smile. "Maybe get her to chill some on who you are friends with. But the most I can do is try. No promises that it will work or anything."

"Try is good for me," Avery told her dad with a genuine smile.

Glad that for once maybe he'd try something and fight her mom a bit. Actually stand up in the best interest for one of his children.

Because Paisley did make her happier. Happier than she had ever been and Avery didn't see how it could be wrong or a sin to be in love when everything felt right and made her happy. Made her feel like for once maybe her life had a purpose or something.

Something more than being the younger sister of Hanson and the good child of the Hanson family.

Making it to where she needed to be Avery sat down in a free seat her dad sitting beside her and out of curiosity Avery looked around for Paisley. Wondering just where she was hiding in the airport right now. Wondering how close she was to them and if from where she was if maybe she could see Avery.

Wondering if she was even trying to look for Avery. Which was also probably pathetic but Avery was sure it had already been determined she was pathetically gone for Paisley.

"Three days in California and you've already rebelled," Paisley laughed as she lay beside Avery on the mattress they were sharing in Hannah's guest bedroom.

A room that looked like it belonged right in the middle of the Fleetwood Mac song Gypsy as it was plastered in black lace and the walls were decorated with dried flower petals. A typical hippie's wet dream which probably described Hannah's whole apartment and hippie could describe Hannah in general.

Just like stoner could describe Hannah's boyfriend Kellan who had sold Paisley weed this morning which had probably helped contribute to Avery rebelling and suggesting that she and Paisley get tattoos. Matching tattoos of the sun and the moon.

Their nicknames for each other that not many people but them knew.

"I know I'm such a bad girl," Avery teased as she snuggled into Paisley, tangling them together more than they already were. "But I don't regret it," she spoke honestly as she looked at the moon on Paisley's wrist. "Not one bit."

"Not one bit?" Paisley asked as she turned her head to look at Avery. "Not one little tiny bit huh?"

"Nope," Avery told her with a smile as she leaned in to peck her lips. "Not one little tiny bit," she muttered before kissing Paisley again this time longer than a peck.

A kiss in which Paisley rolled over so that she was on top of Avery and Avery was on her back, her arms slowly sliding around Paisley as their hips rolled into each other at the same time. Both of them letting out moans.

Which made Avery giggle as she pulled away from the kiss.

"Is something funny Avie?" Paisley asked as she looked down at Avery a tad curious.

Avery shook her head before giggling again, "Just...maybe I liked it when we both moaned at the same time like that," she confessed as her cheeks got hot.

Paisley smirking at her words, "You're weird but that is why I love you," she whispered before leaning into kiss Avery again.

Avery kissing her back and this time no giggles interrupted their kiss. Instead they were able to both keep kissing, only breaking apart every so often to take off a piece of clothing until they were both naked.

Their bodies pressed against each other perfectly, like they belonged together. Two puzzles pieces that were made for each other.

"I love you too Pai and I want you to fuck me," Avery spoke softly as she pulled away from the kiss. "Can you please fuck me? I know you brought the strap on. I found it yesterday when I stole that shirt of yours I wore."

Paisley didn't respond to that at first, instead she moved her lips down to Avery's neck. Nipping at the skin softly which made Avery shiver.

A whine coming out of her mouth as Paisley finally moved away and off her, which made Paisley smirk. "I thought you wanted me to fuck you?" she asked her sounding amused with herself. "To do that I have to get the strap on and the lube. You can always take care of yourself as I do that though. I don't think I'll be opposed to seeing you touch yourself in front of me."

Avery blushed again as she listened to Paisley, "But I've never touched myself in front of you before," she told her bringing up the fact that she had never really masturbated herself in front of Paisley yet.

"Yeah and?" Paisley asked as she made it to the bag. "Is it going to give you stage fright if you have an audience watching you touch yourself?"

"No," Avery told her as she shook her head, letting her hand travel between her legs where she started to stroke herself just to prove a point.

A smirk now playing on her lips as she watched Paisley just stay in front of the bag frozen for a few seconds. Like she hadn't expected Avery to actually touch herself like she had suggested.

But when it seemed to sink in that she was Paisley seemed to move a bit faster in getting what they needed and preparing everything. Only coming back to the bed after the strap on was on and she had coated it with enough lube that Avery could probably take it without it hurting too much.

Avery letting her thighs fall open some more as she moved her hand away so that Paisley could position herself in between Avery's legs.

Her head falling back farther into the mattress when Paisley finally slipped inside of her. Not even trying to be gentle which didn't bother Avery.

She had asked to be fucked after all and fucking wasn't gentle. It was hard and fast.

Biting her lip as she began to move with Paisley some, Avery looked up at her as they locked eyes. Some kind of secret smile passing between them.

"Tell me something deep," Avery muttered out before she could even stop herself, knowing right now while being fucked wasn't the time to get deep but well she was weird.

Paisley had said it earlier so right now really shouldn't have surprised either of them.

"Something deep huh?" Paisley asked as her breathing grew harder and she left tiny pecks on Avery's lips.

Avery nodded her head, "Something deep."

"I'll never cheat on you," Paisley spoke as her lips went down to Avery's neck and Avery moved her head slightly to give her better access. "I love you too much to ever do that to you. You're too sweet and I'm way too much in love with you to screw this up."

Smiling at Paisley's words Avery let her eyes fall shut, taking the rest of Paisley's kisses on her neck as a promise to what she had just said.

That she'd never cheat on her. Never want to ruin what they had.

"Just so you know one of these days I'm going to ask you to do that in the middle of lovemaking," Paisley muttered as she slowed her movements some. "Ask you to tell me something deep."

Avery smiled at that though she remained silent, only ever speaking up when her orgasm finally hit and she muttered out Paisley's name.

Hoping that Hannah and Kellan were both sound asleep because she was sure she hadn't been as quiet as she had wanted to be and she'd feel horrible if they had heard them having sex.

"Love you," Avery whispered out softly as Paisley just collapsed against her. "Love you so goddamn much babe," she spoke wanting Paisley to know she loved her just as much as Paisley loved her.

That she'd never cheat either. Never ruin what they had. Not when Paisley was the best thing she had going in her life right now.

Not when watching Paisley get tattooed had made her wonder what it'd be like if she came out while still dating her. Let her whole family even her mom know how much she loved this amazing woman.

Chapter Text

July 2008

Avery yawned softly as she leaned against the passenger seat in Paisley's car. Her eyes closing some as she drove down the backroads of Tulsa.

"You know your mom is going to freak when she seems me right," Paisley spoke and Avery only nodded her head to that. "She might kill you too."

"She won't kill me," Avery laughed even though another yawn wanted to come out. Jet lag having caught up with her some. "She'll threaten too but she won't," she said as she opened her eyes again and looked at Paisley with a smile on her face.

Avery knew for sure that yeah her mom would be mad that Paisley was with her, that Paisley had went on the first half of the trip with her without Avery even telling her but in the end she didn't care.

Paisley raised an eyebrow at that as she turned to look at Avery her eyes landing on Avery's wrist briefly and Avery followed her gaze, looking down at the sun tattoo which adorned Avery's wrist.

A tattoo that she had gotten in California three days after arriving. It was a spur of the moment decision but it was one she didn't regret. Especially not when Paisley had a matching one on her own wrist..or well semi matching.

Paisley's was a moon to go along with where she called Avery her moon just like Avery's was the sun because she called Paisley her sun.

"Okay, so she might kill me for sure after seeing this," Avery added on with a smile. "But I don't regret it just like I don't regret you coming with me," she said as she reached for Paisley's free hand which wasn't on the steering wheel.

Her mind going back to a time in California. The day before they had flown to Paris.

Ending the skype call that she had been on with Zac and Kate, Avery left the guest bedroom that she and Paisley had been sharing in Hannah's apartment. Heading out into the living room where when she got to it she saw Hannah in the kitchen that was attached to the living room but no sign of Paisley in sight.

"Where is Pai?" Avery asked with a raised eyebrow, watching as Hannah turned to look at her.

"She went outside to smoke," Hannah told her as she pointed to the balcony and Avery followed her hand, seeing Paisley through the glass. "Told her I was jealous she wouldn't share the last of her good weed with me. But of course she reminded me the weed came from Kellan and he's my boyfriend so I could just get it anytime really."

Avery laughed softly at that because that sounded just like her girlfriend, "Sounds like something she'd do," she nodded before turning on her heel and heading toward the balcony.

Making it outside she watched as Paisley turned to face her as she opened the sliding glass door.

"How'd the skype call go?" Paisley asked with a raised eyebrow. "Did you get to see the little one?"

"Shepherd?" Avery asked as she sat in the chair beside Paisley's. "Yep I got to see him for a bit but I highly doubt he even knew his Aunt Avery was speaking to him. He's not even a month old yet and he was probably too busy pooping cause Kate had to leave and change him which gave Zac time to grill me and give me the third degree. Make sure I was sleeping properly, staying hydrated, staying safe."

"Isn't that why he wanted you to bring a friend? So they could make sure you were safe?" Paisley questioned as she kept her eyebrow raised.

Avery nodded in response to that, "He's still just a protective older brother," she told Paisley knowing it was probably in Zac's nature to worry about her. "He asked about you as well, you know. You should have stayed in the room and taken part in the call. Got to see Kate and Zac's lovely faces."

Paisley scrunched up her nose at that before taking a hit off the joint in her hand, "I just wanted to give you time with your brother. Maybe next time."

"Yeah maybe next time," Avery mocked her slightly. "Something's bothering you Pai so spill."

"You know me so well," Paisley spoke sounding a bit sarcastic at that. "But there is something bothering me. What if your brother tells your mom?" she asked sounding almost scared of that. "You know she'll freak."

Avery sighed at the thought of her mom finding out just yet that Paisley was with her, "Maybe she will," she agreed knowing she would. "But Zac won't tell her. Zac's always been the best at keeping my secrets," she explained knowing out of all of her siblings she trusted Zac the most.

He kept all of her secrets and never told anyone. Not even when sometimes he could get in trouble too. Just like sometimes she had kept his secrets.

"Still what if she does?" Paisley asked before taking another hit off her joint. "Are you going to make me leave early just to please her and make her happy? I mean I know how much you still want to make her happy," she said obviously still maybe a bit bitter about the Jeremy stuff from May.

Back when Avery had invited him to the celebration for her passing her GED test and pretending to be a happy couple with him. Something that had at the time deeply hurt Paisley and even though they had gotten past it Paisley still remembered it well.

Avery wondering if maybe deep down Paisley was still scared that what if this lesbian stuff was just a phase for her. Which was what her initial problem was with seeing Avery play straight with Jeremy.

She had been afraid it was just a phase and that one day Avery would wake up and realize she liked boys and that she didn't want Paisley. Letting Avery know that Paisley's feelings ran just as deep as Avery's own did.

"No," Avery answered with a shake of her head, watching as Paisley finished her joint. "I wouldn't make you leave," she said as she stood from the chair she was sitting in and walked over to Paisley, sitting on her lap. "I kind of like having you here," she told her smiling some when Paisley slid her arms around Avery's waist.

Paisley smiled at that, though it didn't make it to her eyes, "I like being here Hanson. Experiencing life with you, getting to see you away from Tulsa and your family. You seem so much more free that I am gonna hate it when we have to go back."

"Maybe we can stay traveling forever," Avery suggested playfully. "We can just take up fake names and travel the world together. We'll be the thing that keeps the other going and only send postcards to our friends and the nice people in our families," she spoke knowing that just like her Paisley had family who disliked her sexual orientation.

Though Paisley hadn't quite divulged who or the story behind it yet. Just made small comments that she had family like Avery's mom and Avery knew she had been kicked out after coming out.

"Is this your way of asking me to be your winding wheel?" Paisley asked softly as she leaned up, leaving a light kiss on Avery's cheek.

Avery scrunched up her forehead in confusion at that, "I guess it is, whatever winding wheel means," she said before laying her head in Paisley's neck.

"It's from a Ryan Adams song," Paisley explained and of course it was. Avery should have known because Paisley used songs to explain things and maybe it came from working in a record store. "It's the ultimate soul mate. That one person who is with you for the rest of your life. Guiding you when you're lost and inspiring you when you need inspiration. Basically your driving force."

Avery fell silent at that, finally feeling like she had an answer to everything that Paisley was to her. "Yeah that is what I'm asking you to be," she spoke again sounding genuine and honest in her words. "Be my winding wheel Paisley Brianna Chambers?"

"Don't ever use my full name again and I will be," Paisley laughed as she held Avery a bit closer to her.

"Deal," Avery spoke with a smile on her face, her eyes going to Paisley's moon tattoo that was on her wrist. "A deal I'll never go back on."

"Then I'll be your winding wheel Avery Laurel Hanson," Paisley agreed and Avery smiled even more. Feeling content and at home.

Something she always felt anymore with Paisley, more so than she ever felt at her actual home with her family.

"Wake up Avery," a voice spoke and Avery slowly opened her eyes, realizing she must have fallen asleep. "We're at your house," the voice said again and Avery turned her head to see Paisley looking at her as she turned the car off. "And your parents are on the porch death glaring us already."

At the last bit of information Avery moved her head some more towards the porch where indeed her mom and dad were standing. Not too happy looks on either of their faces.

"Well let's go and face my death sentence together," Avery spoke with the best smile she could muster as she slipped out of the car, Paisley soon following her lead and as they walked towards her house Avery felt her nerves finally hit.

Scared of how her parents would react to the sight of Paisley as well as how they'd take in Avery's tattoo which she had sort of gotten illegally since she was only seventeen. Finally actually using the fake id she had for something other than drinking.

"This is unexpected," Diana stated once Avery and Paisley had made it to the porch. "I wasn't expecting Paisley to be the friend you mentioned who'd drive you home from the airport. The friend you just told me last night in your first phone call home that tagged along on your trip with you."

Avery shrugged her shoulders nonchalant as she looked at her mom, "Figured it was best that you found out this way," she told her as they locked eyes. Her mom's eyes resembling that of an ice cold swimming pool or what Avery imagined one would look like.

"You did huh?" Diana asked her anger coming through, matching the icy shade of her eyes. "I'm your mother Avery Laurel and I should have known that your little friend was coming with you on this trip. Just like you should have called before last night just to update us on how you were doing."

"Diana," Walker interjected as he put a hand on Diana's shoulder. "Do we have to do this now? Everyone else.."

"Everyone else will be here in an hour," Diana stated as she turned her head to look at Walker. "So yes we're doing this now. Our daughter kept stuff from us Walker and she hasn't contacted us in weeks. It was like she fell off the face of the earth."

"But she didn't fall off the face of the earth," Walker spoke again and Avery just eyed her parents curiously. Wondering when things had changed while she was away and her dad had started to speak up more. "Anyway we know she talked to Zac and she called Jessie some. So she was fine and Paisley was with her..keeping her company."

Avery nodded at that, "Yeah," she stated as she moved her hand up to wipe some hair off her face. "Paisley was there to keep me company which is what Zac wanted by the way. He wanted me to have a friend there just so I'd be more safe...." she spoke only to be stopped when her mom reached for her hand.

Avery soon swallowing hard as her mom turned her wrist over to face her.

"You got a tattoo?!" Diana exclaimed before turning back to her husband and settling him with a glare. "She got a tattoo Walker. Are you going to justify that too?" she asked him sounding patronizing.

"If it helps it's a matching set," Paisley said softly as she moved her hand so that both of Avery's parents could see her wrist.

At that Diana laughed as she dropped Avery's wrist, "I can't do this right now," she muttered under her breath as she gave Avery a glare and Avery swore if looks could kill she'd be dead. "I need to go upstairs and say a prayer before everyone else comes and I don't even want to see you right now Avery Laurel Hanson. I'm so disappointed in you," she muttered before turning and heading back inside the house.

After she left Avery chewed on her lip as she eyed her dad, almost afraid he'd go off on her too but instead he just pulled Avery into him, kissing her forehead softly.

"She'll come around Avery," he muttered as he lead her inside the house, Paisley following behind silently. "Just give her time to cool off. Though I do suspect sometime soon we're going to talk about that tattoo of yours because you really should have asked us before getting it."

"I know I should have," Avery told him as she looked up at him with a smile. "Which reminds me it's Paisley's birthday and I was wondering if she could come to our Fourth of July celebration we have here as well as maybe spending the night. It's her birthday."

Walker let out a tiny sigh as he moved away from Avery, "I'll talk to your mom about her spending the night," he told her and Avery was afraid with that, that the answer would be no. "I've been trying to get her to loosen up on you guys while you were gone but I'm afraid today's reversed some of that. But I'll see what I can do though it's fine if Paisley stays for our usual Fourth of July stuff. Now you two go into the kitchen and help Jessie and Zoe finish fixing the foods. I need to make sure Mac hasn't hurt himself in doing the yard work I had him doing."

Laughing at that Avery nodded as she turned to face Paisley, waiting until her dad was gone to speak, "Well that went better than I thought it would," she said feeling a bit hopeful. "I'm still alive."

"For now," Paisley added on as she turned to lead the way to the kitchen. "You're still alive for now."

"Which is good enough for me," Avery told her knowing for now it was good enough for her.

Chapter Text

July 2008

Sitting in a lawn chair as her family all assembled basically in the back yard, doing their thing Avery sighed as she looked up at the sky which wasn't quite dark enough yet for her brothers to set off the fireworks but it was getting there even though it seemed to be taking it forever to get there.

But really everything seemed to be going closer since she had arrived back home and her mom had, had her freak out. Which was probably because since then her mom was doing everything in her power to hide away from Avery, like the very sight of her daughter hurt her.

Maybe it did though and that fact made Avery sad because how could a parent be hurt over the very sight of their child? Weren't they supposed to love them unconditionally and all that stuff?

Something Avery felt at times her mom forgot because her love seemed to come with conditions sometimes. A do this and I'll love you or do this and I won't.

Coming out of her thoughts though as she saw someone sit down in the lawn chair beside her, Avery raised an eyebrow as she saw Zac there. Not surprised to find two red solo cups in his hand either.

"All that beer for you?" Avery asked with a curious smile. "Or do you plan on sharing it with your nice little sister?"

Zac gave Avery a look as he eyed her a bit, "Nice little sister?" he asked her teasingly. "I didn't know nice sister's made mom's pray because they disappointed them," he spoke with a laugh as he handed the cup to her. "Which by the way, way to go I think you've officially fucked up worse than I ever could."

"Still not as bad as Taylor though," Avery reminded him knowing she still had Taylor to pass before she reached total disappointment level. "How'd you find out though?" she questioned knowing at least this time she was positive Zoe hadn't overheard anything to tell anyone else.

If she had Avery was sure she'd be gloating and she wasn't. Something Avery knew because she had been particularly nicer to Zoe since making their mom upset. Deciding just to do that to keep safe in case Zoe decided to tattle on Avery for something or the other.

It was best to be nice to Zoe and keep that from happening and well maybe she had also missed her little sister while being gone. More so than she'd like to admit.

"Heard mom telling Kate all about it," Zac revealed and the answer didn't surprise her. "She sounded real disappointed too so I guess God hasn't helped her yet. Will probably help her when you get that tattoo removed," he stated as his eyes went to her wrist before he took a drink from his beer.

Avery glared at him slightly, though it was a fake one, "I'm not getting it removed," she told him honestly as she too took a drink from the beer he had gave her. "I like it too much."

"It's okay," Zac stated as if he was unsure of it. "It matches Paisley though and I think that's kind of sweet. Friends with matching tattoos. Wondering when you're going to get ones with Cordelia and Juniper now."

Avery shook her head, "Paisley and I are just closer gal pals right now," she told him knowing it probably wouldn't make sense to him. "Doubt I'll get matching ones with them and anyway Cordelia's terrified of needles so she'd faint before even getting one," she laughed knowing most times when Cordelia got blood work done she almost fainted.

"So you and Paisley were just gals being pals when you got your matching tattoo set?" Zac asked with an amused glint in his eye or maybe he was just tipsy.

Avery was sure it wouldn't take much to get him tipsy because again it seemed he had gotten just a tad bit skinnier than the last time she saw him in person. Which shouldn't be so surprising to Avery because he had a new baby at home and all and his sleep and eating schedule may have been a bit messed up.

"Something like that," Avery shrugged her shoulders as she took another drink of the beer. "Which speaking of my gal pal where is she?" she asked as she looked around amongst the natural chaos that was her family.

"Last I saw her my wife had stolen her away to coo and aww over our son and then I think dad may have taken her away too," Zac answered and the last bit made Avery raise an eyebrow. Hoping that maybe if Walker had stolen her away it meant he was giving her permission to stay the night.

Avery only smiled at that before going silent as she finished her beer, Zac not seeming to mind or if he did he didn't say anything. Instead he went silent too as he finished his own.

Though once Avery was done with hers she stood to throw her cup away.

"You leaving me already Avie, without even telling me how your trip was? Especially seeing Paris now at an age where you're old enough to comprehend it," Zac spoke trying to sound sad though he failed.

Avery laughed as she leaned down to leave a peck on his forehead, "I'll tell you about it later maybe I'll even send you a postcard telling you all the details of everything after I leave for the second leg of my trip next week," she teased before turning to leave.

After throwing her cup away Avery moved to the table that housed the drinks and grabbed a lemonade. The drink of choice for the younger kids. The ones who couldn't drink alcohol just yet.

A drink Avery should have had instead of the beer that Zac had given her.

With the lemonade in hand she made her way to where Zoe was with the sparkler in her hand, "Want another lemonade Zo?" she asked with a smile as she looked down at her sister.

A girl who even at ten sometimes seemed much older than what she really was and even if at other times, like tonight with her running around with sparklers in her hand, her childhood innocence shone through.

An innocence that Avery sometimes wished Zoe would cling too for a bit longer before she realized just how messed up everything was.

"Sure," Zoe answered with a shrug of her shoulders as she turned to get another sparkler, hers having burnt out already. Though before she had turned all the way Avery watched as Zoe paused, her eyes zeroing in on her wrist and Avery blushed some as Zoe reached out for her free hand, pulling it a bit closer.

Acting like she was trying to inspect it and maybe she was. Isn't that what sleuths did?

"What is this?" Zoe finally asked and Avery knew her curiosity was piqued. If only for a bit.

"Just a little tattoo," Avery answered doing her best to sound casual because it was much more than that to her.

It would never be just a little tattoo.

"When did you get it?" Zoe asked and Avery wasn't shocked when her sister had asked another question. It was just so like Zoe.

Always being the sleuth and trying to figure out everyone's hidden secrets and agendas. Avery forever hoping that for now some of her secrets stayed secrets.

"When I was in California," Avery told her watching as Zoe narrowed her gaze at her.

Seeming like she was trying to fit puzzle pieces together and it was always times like that Avery wished she could be in her younger sister's head. Just to see how close she was to figuring out Avery's puzzle.

"Cool," Zoe spoke still sounding off and like she was still trying to piece stuff together.

Something that unnerved Avery and reminded her why she had came over. To give Zoe another lemonade. "Thanks," Avery spoke before handing her sister the lemonade, "Here," she told her watching as her sister took the drink from her.

Feeling a bit of relief that right after that her brothers announced that it was time to start the fireworks and also that Ezra had chosen then to come to Zoe because he needed another sparkler.

It gave Avery enough time to slip away and avoid anymore questions from her sister as well as to find Paisley again amongst the chaos. A tiny smile appearing on her lips when she did finally spot Paisley sitting in a lawn chair holding a sleeping baby in her arms.

"You stole a baby," Avery spoke as she reached Paisley, bending down to smile at her as well as Shepherd who seemed to be sleeping soundly in her arms.

Paisley made a face at that as she shook her head, "I didn't steal a baby," she defended with a bit of a smile. "I had just came back from putting my bags in your room because your dad said I could spend the night and as soon as I sat down in the chair to watch the fireworks the baby's mom just put the baby in my arms. Saying it was best he stayed a bit farther away from the fireworks since he was sleeping and she didn't want to wake him."

"Uh huh," Avery muttered acting like she didn't believe a word that Paisley had said. "You look cute with a kid though by the way," she whispered with what had to have been a lovestruck smile on her face.

Knowing when she had first saw Paisley in the chair holding the baby it felt like the future had flashed right in front of her eyes. Imagining Paisley holding their baby one day because even with being a lesbian Avery still wanted a family.

A family she could imagine so well with Paisley. Maybe one or two babies either adopted or via artificial insemination because Avery had always wanted to carry at least one child and yeah just seeing Paisley with Shepherd was enough to make Avery imagine what it would be like if Paisley held their own babies.

But again Avery wasn't naive, knew deep down they may never truly make it. They were still both so young. Avery still seventeen and Paisley twenty-one as of today.

"You're imagining our future again aren't you?" Paisley questioned which made Avery blush almost wishing she hadn't confessed that after a drunken night of love making in Paris. "Imagining me holding our future hypothetical kid."

"Maybe," Avery told her as her blush grew. "Is that a bad thing?" she asked as she moved to stand up and sit down in the empty lawn chair beside Paisley so she'd have a better view of the fireworks.

Fireworks that luckily hadn't woken Shepherd up just yet.

Paisley made a face as if she was thinking over that question, "Nah, I guess it isn't," she smiled sounding honest in her words.

A silence passing between them after that as they watched the fireworks as well as just letting the chaos take place around them.

Kids running about and getting sleepy as it got later. Kate soon coming to collect her son, muttering something about taking him to the pool house to sleep as well as maybe laying down herself until Zac decided to leave.

Jessica soon slipping inside tiredly though Avery suspected she'd probably call Joe who had went away on a family trip for the holidays.

Which it wasn't long after Jessica stalked off that Avery turned to Paisley, "Wanna head inside?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. "I'm kind of tired and I just wanna get in bed and cuddle with you," she muttered almost whispering the last bit.

Paisley gave her a tiny smile as she nodded her head in agreement and after that Avery stood from her chair, going inside with Paisley at her hip almost. Though Avery didn't dare reach for her hand just yet. Waiting only until they were away from prying eyes hopefully until she took her hand, walking upstairs the rest of the way to her room holding Paisley's hand.

Only letting her hand go once they had made it to her room and shut the door. Both of them going to Paisley's bag because maybe they had both put things in her bags when packing to leave Paris.

Making it to the bag first Avery unzipped it, pulling out her pajamas and watching as Paisley did the same.

"I'm not even sure why we're putting these on," Avery stated as she undressed out of the clothes she had on. Putting on the old tank top she slept in during the summer. "They'll just be taken off soon enough anyway," she said sounding sure of her words after stepping into the plaid pair of sleep shorts she had.

Mainly because summer's in Tulsa especially at night could get hot in this house. Even with an air conditioner keeping the house cool.

Paisley laughed softly at that as she eyed Avery after she had changed into her own pajamas. Just a t-shirt with a pair of panties underneath. "You sound so sure you're getting sex tonight there Hanson," she spoke sounding all coy as she slipped into Avery's bed like it was nothing.

Like she had laid there before when she hadn't.

"What makes you so sure we'll be having sex tonight? I mean we are at your parents house and what if they heard god forbid?"

Avery rolled her eyes as she slipped into bed beside Paisley, her arm going around Paisley's waist as she pulled her closer. "My parents are outside as is the rest of the family minus Jessie," she reminded her knowing the others would probably stay by the fire for awhile.

They usually always did every year.

"No one's going to hear us," Avery reassured her as she leaned in to leave a light kiss on Paisley's neck. "Plus I miss you. We haven't had sex in days thanks to mother nature paying us both a visit the last week we spent in Paris and now that it's over I really want you babe. I need you."

Paisley let out a tiny moan after the light kiss, her body moving just a tad bit closer to Avery's. Closing what little space they had between them. "You need me huh?" she questioned softly.

"I do," Avery spoke as she slowly moved to straddle Paisley, locking eyes as she looked down at her. "I need you so bad," she whispered before leaning down to kiss her on the lips. "Do you need me too?" she asked in between tiny kisses.

Her hand sliding up and under the shirt Paisley had on, almost thankful that Paisley had less clothing to take off than Avery did in this moment.

"You know I do," Paisley told her, her words coming out through a moan as Avery's hand continued going up Paisley's shirt. Lifting it up as she did so.

Pulling away once it was far enough up and sliding the shirt off of Paisley with Paisley's help. Soon leaning down to kiss her again and this time as they kissed both of their hands explored the other's body as more clothing came off most of it from Avery.

Until they were both just in their panties which at that, Avery kissed Paisley a bit harder, letting her hand slip inside Paisley's panties. Loving how wet her girlfriend already was and that it was all because of her.

"I love you," Avery muttered out as she rubbed Paisley softly earning herself another moan from Paisley.

"Love you too," Paisley spoke and after her words Avery rubbed her a bit more before sliding her hand out of Paisley's panties.

Knowing she didn't want to get her off with her hand. No she wanted skin on skin contact with the girl she loved. Wanted to feel close to her. Closer than she ever felt with anyone else.

A smirk playing on Avery's lips when Paisley whined at the loss of contact. "Don't whine," Avery muttered as she slipped Paisley's panties off before removing her own. "Want to get you off in another way," she told her before positioning herself just right.

Feeling Paisley rest her hands on Avery's hip right before Avery began to move against her. Leaning down to kiss her as she let herself get lost to the sensations when Paisley began to move with her.

The only sounds in Avery's room being their moans and heavy breathing from time to time. Neither of them really talking though sometimes Paisley would occasionally let out a giggle as Avery let her hand slowly slid down her rib cage.

Something she did because she knew Paisley was ticklish there and she liked hearing her laugh occasionally during sex. A fact she had figured out during their time away from Tulsa.

"Fuck Paisley," Avery whispered out as her orgasm hit and she slowed her movements slightly as her eyes fell shut.

Tiny explosions taking place underneath her eyelids and beneath her she could feel Paisley slow as well, her fingernails digging into Avery's skin and Avery knew she too must have reached her end.

Avery slowly letting her lips move from Paisley's as she buried her head into the other girl's neck. Her eyes opening briefly though they felt heavy and she knew she'd have to give in to the need to sleep soon.

"I love you," Paisley spoke through a few heavy breaths as her fingernails finally detached from Avery's skin and her fingers began to trace patterns on Avery's skin. Avery shivering at the contact. "Love you so god damned much."

"Love you too Pai," Avery smiled as she kissed Paisley's neck. Her eyes falling shut again this time her body finally drifting off, Avery not even caring that she was naked and still tangled into Paisley's own body. Paisley was her home and she always slept better when she was with her.

Never feeling once like she was alone or even that she had anything to be afraid of. Even if Avery did have lots to be afraid of.

Chapter Text

July 2008

Waking the next morning to Paisley sleeping soundly beside her, Avery smiled at the sight. Loving how peaceful her girlfriend looked and Avery almost wished she had a camera to take a picture of this moment but she didn't. Instead she only had her memory and she'd do her best to commit that to memory.

Slipping out of bed though as not to wake Paisley, Avery reached for her pajama shorts, putting them back on before going to Paisley's bag and grabbing a plaid button down shirt that she knew belonged to Paisley. Hoping no one else would notice her wearing it or say anything.

Putting the shirt on Avery buttoned all the buttons except the top three and after it was on she went to her dresser where she grabbed a hair tie. Throwing her hair up into a messy ponytail before leaving the bedroom to get breakfast.

Was thinking of maybe surprising her girlfriend with breakfast in bed. Only because she was afraid of the awkwardness it would be if they ate in the kitchen with everyone else. Though hopefully everyone else would still be asleep.

After all yesterday had to have been as long and tiring for them as it was her.

Making it to the kitchen downstairs though Avery slowed when she entered the kitchen to see her mom and Zoe in what looked like an intense conversation. One they stopped abruptly when Avery had came into the room and she almost got the distinct feeling they were talking about her.

Though she had no clue what it could be about. She hadn't done anything since being back that Zoe would need to tattle to their mom about. Not in front of her sister at least.

"Mom...Zoe," Avery said cautiously as she looked between them. "I'm surprised you two are awake so early," she spoke as she pasted on a smile.

Still trying not to overstep things with her mom. Make stuff worse than what they already were now.

Diana smiled up at Avery after she talked, though Avery could see it was forced, "I am too actually but Zo couldn't sleep. Said something was troubling her and so she woke me up to talk about it. She should be fine now though."

Avery raised an eyebrow at that, though she didn't question it. Knew better than to do that.

"Well at least she's better now," Avery said with a smile on her face as she moved farther into the kitchen. Soon getting things together to fix breakfast for both her and Paisley and while she was doing that Avery listened as her mom left the kitchen.

Though Zoe stayed in the kitchen with her and the whole time Avery could feel her sister boring holes into her back. Staring at her and it made her slightly uncomfortable.

Avery stayed silent as she fixed the cereal bowls, speaking up after she had them fixed as she turned to look at Zoe, "Are you okay Zoe?" she asked her sister honestly. "I mean really is there something wrong because if you need to talk..."

"Nothing's wrong!" Zoe snapped at her which made Avery jump slightly. Having never heard such anger from her sister before. "Now can you please just go and be with your friend and leave me alone," she muttered as she narrowed her eyes. "Pretty sure the fun you had last night is probably still making you tired today."

"What does that mean?" Avery asked feeling confused and again like she was missing something though she had no clue what she could be missing.

Zoe shook her head at that, "Nothing. It means nothing now please just go," she muttered being insistent on wanting Avery to leave and Avery frowned.

Feeling a bit hurt but she did her best not to show it. Instead she took both cereal bowls and left the kitchen, heading back to her room. Where when getting there she was greeted by the sight of Paisley taking Avery's clothes out of her bag and also trying to figure out which clothes were her own.

"Well darn you're awake already," Avery spoke which made Paisley turn to look at her. "I was going to surprise you with breakfast in bed. Though it's nothing special just Cheerios because our family is lacking in good cereal right now."

Paisley laughed softly as she sat down on Avery's bed though her laugh didn't sound genuine. Like there was something bothering her and Avery half wondered if everyone but her had just woken up moody.

"Well I actually would have came down stairs and probably ruined the surprise more but on the way out of your room I ran into your mom. Had a nice chat with her and decided to just hide out in your room," Paisley spoke as she rolled her eyes.

Avery frowned at Paisley's words, "What did she say?" she questioned as she sat down beside Paisley, handing her one cereal bowl.

"Nothing that concerns you," Paisley answered though she avoided eye contact with Avery, leaving Avery to feel that maybe it did. But then again she didn't see why Paisley would lie to her. "Just stuff about me."

"Nothing good I'm sure," Avery spoke as she began to eat her cereal.

"Nope," Paisley confirmed with a shake of her head finally looking at Avery and after that things fell silent between them as they both ate their cereal.

A silence that Avery found almost uncomfortable but then again the whole day seemed off and like Avery had missed the memo to something.

After they had both finished Avery took Paisley's bowl from her and took them downstairs. Half having expected Paisley to still be in her room when she came back but when she came back Paisley was nowhere in sight and she frowned at that.

Sitting down on her bed as she felt tears prickling her eyes. Tears she didn't fight back even though she had left her door open and anyone leaving their room could see her. It was just a shitty day it seemed.

From the weird stuff with her mom and Zoe, to Zoe snapping at her and now Paisley being off. It almost made Avery wish she were still away and on her trip. Away from everything that could hurt her and with the one person who made stuff better.

"I think I wanna come out," Avery muttered coming down from her sex high as she laid next to Paisley in the bed in their hotel room in Paris.

They had been in Paris for two days now and tonight they had went to see the Eiffel Tower as well as having a romantic dinner at some fancy restaurant not far from their hotel. Both flirting over their dinner and when they had came back neither could take their hands off each other and they had fallen into bed.

A crazy mess of limbs as they moved with each other until climax and now in her sex high and maybe a bit love drunk Avery realized she was ready to come out when she went back home.

"What?" Paisley asked sounding surprised as she eyed Avery, holding her close and tracing patterns on her skin with her fingertips.

"I want to come out," Avery repeated again. "When we get back home I want to come out and I want to do it with you there by my side. I don't want you to be my secret anymore Pai. I want the whole world to know how much I love you. I want my family to know."

Paisley just kept eying Avery, "You're only saying that in the heat of the moment."

"But I'm not," Avery argued as she pushed herself up so that she was resting on her arm. "I've been considering it ever since we got our tattoos. I want to come out. I'm ready and I'm comfortable and I'm in love. I need this for me Pai before I go crazy."

"If it's what you want," Paisley told her with a smile as she leaned in to peck Avery's lips. "Then I'll be behind you every step of the way."

Grinning at that Avery pecked her lips back, "Good because I probably won't do this without you there for me. Need someone to lean on who makes me feel safe when I'm pretty sure my whole world is going to get turned upside down," she muttered knowing things would probably change when she went back home in July.

A storm would be coming but at least maybe she'd be prepared for it.


"Avery?" a voice spoke from her door and Avery wiped her eyes quickly, looking up and seeing Mac. "Is everything okay?"

Avery paused at Mac's question debating on lying or telling the truth. Knowing lying would be easier but instead she shook her head no as more tears came out.

Mac taking her head shaking as his permission to enter her room and sit down on her bed beside her. "Is it your period? I know those make you and Jessie both crazy."

"No," Avery laughed through her tears. "It's not that. Things are just...they feel off," she told him not sure how to say she felt like a storm was coming. One in which she wasn't prepared for at all.

"I'm sorry," Mac told her as he reached out and pulled her into a hug and as Mac hugged her Avery broke down more in his arms.

Hating the fact that she was losing it in her younger brother's arms and not really even knowing why. Just having an off feeling.

A feeling that she was afraid to get answers for and one she knew she probably would get ones for sooner, rather than later.

Chapter Text

July 2008

For the next three days Avery stayed barricaded in her bedroom, ignoring almost everyone for fear of making them upset or mad or even for fear of running into Zoe and setting her off again if she was still in whatever mood she had been in the day after the fourth.

The one person Avery wasn't ignoring though was Paisley but it seemed Paisley was ignoring her. Hadn't returned any of Avery's calls or texts and Avery had a weird sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. That somehow maybe things were over between them and she had no clue why or even what had happened.

Maybe she had done something wrong or maybe she hadn't and she just wasn't good enough for Paisley anymore. All Avery knew was her girlfriend was giving her the silent treatment and it fucking sucked. Made her feel horrible because right now all she wanted was to hear Paisley's voice telling her things would be okay.

Telling her that she was just crazy and imagining things but Avery knew it wouldn't come. Not with this ignoring that Paisley was doing to her.

Heaving a sigh Avery moved from her bed, deciding to shower and try to end the ignoring. At least go and see Paisley and confront her.

Not wanting to leave for the second part of her trip in two days with whatever this was hanging over her head like a storm cloud that refused to let out rain just yet.

Wanted to rip off the band aid and get the painful part over even if maybe it would put a damper on her mood when she left for the second part of her trip.

But at least she'd have the rest of her trip to heal until she came back to Tulsa and had to deal with things again like maybe running into Paisley if they were indeed breaking up.

Something Avery hoped wasn't happening even if the sinking feeling told her it was happening.

"Are you going out?" Jessica asked curiously some time later after Avery walked downstairs after her shower. Dressed in a loose tank top and shorts that were maybe a bit too short but it was hot today so she didn't care.

"Yeah," Avery answered with a raised eyebrow as she turned to Jessica who was standing in the entryway of the living room. Zoe sitting on the couch as she turned to watch the scene unfolding. "Why?"

Jessica shrugged her shoulders, "Just you've kind of been hiding in your room for days and I guess I suspected it would continue until you left is all Avie," she frowned looking like she was genuinely worried for her and at least someone was.

"I haven't been fully hiding away. I come out to eat and use the bathroom," Avery defended knowing that was mainly the only times she had left her room. "But I'm tired of hiding and I need to see someone," she spoke before walking towards the door.

"Are you going to be back for dinner? Mom invited a new couple from her church over tonight," Jessica said as she chewed on her lip softly. "I think she wanted all of us kids still at home to be there just to make a nice impression. That and she says they have a son about your age that you may like. I know she's been looking for a good boy for you since you and Jeremy broke up in May."

Avery laughed bitterly at that because of course her mom would care more about finding her a boy than the fact that something was bothering her enough to keep her in her room for days.

Something that clearly Jessica could see but was too afraid to ask what it was probably. That or she knew Avery wouldn't tell her but Avery wished her mom noticed or at least asked her if she was okay instead of wanting to find her a nice boy and using tonight as an opportunity to try and play matchmaker.

"I'll try to be but no promises," Avery told her sister before finally slipping out the door before Jessica could say anymore.

Soon making it to her car where she got in and turned her car on. Turning her radio up to almost full blast as she pulled out of the driveway, wanting to drown in her music rather than her feelings as she drove to Paisley's house knowing that she'd be off work now.

Paisley having found out her schedule for the week she came back while she had been traveling with Avery.

Arriving at Paisley's apartment complex Avery parked her car but she didn't get out right away. Instead she sat in the car and took several deep breaths. Trying to work herself up for this confrontation, trying to get the nerves that she swore she had.

But she had no nerves at all it seemed but even with that knowledge she still finally got out of her car. Walking slowly to Paisley's apartment. Much slower than before because again the no nerves thing.

When she finally made it to the apartment she raised her hand and knocked three times before lowering her hand and waiting on an answer. Feeling like now she wanted to be sick or maybe like she should just turn and run.

Even if she knew having this conversation now was better than waiting and prolonging it until she got back. Because being ignored for much longer while she so desperately wanted her girlfriend to talk to her would kill her.

Looking up as the door opened Avery was about to open her mouth and say something but paused when instead of being face to face with Paisley, she was face to face with Ellery who was only wearing a t-shirt with panties and Avery was sure her heart had literally dropped into her stomach.

"Oh, I wasn't expecting you to be there. Was expecting it would be the pizza Pai and I ordered," Ellery smirked as if she was rubbing her very existence right now into Avery's face and in a way she probably was.

Was telling Avery that she had fucked her girlfriend because why else would she be clad in so little?

"Yeah well I wasn't expecting you to open the door so we're even," Avery muttered out rather harshly, making Ellery's smirk grow.

"You want to see Pai?" Ellery asked though it came out more like a statement.

Avery rolled her eyes, "I think we both know that's why I came," she said trying to sound stronger than she actually felt right now.

"Of course," Ellery nodded as she moved aside so Avery could come in and Avery swallowed hard as she stepped inside the apartment, hearing Ellery shut the door behind her once she was in. "I'll just go and get her," she said before walking past Avery and heading down the hall to Paisley's room.

A place Avery knew well and a place Avery hated to think of as somewhere, where Ellery had probably been before Avery knocked on the door. Hated imagining Paisley and Ellery tangled together in bed just like Avery and Paisley had been days before.

Before something had changed somewhere in the universe and literally decided Avery needed to suffer.

Coming out of her thoughts as she heard footsteps getting closer Avery crossed her arms over her chest as she watched Paisley come into the room. Clad in a pair of flannel pajama pants and a loose fitting band t-shirt.

"Avery," she whispered out softly as she looked Avery over and Avery shook her head feeling tears already coming to her eyes.

"You cheated on me," Avery stated with a shake of her head. "You fucking cheated on me with Ellery," she said her voice getting a bit louder now.

Paisley paused at that, her eyebrows furrowing slightly as brief confusion flashed across her face before it changed to a more neutral look. "I did," she nodded her head having the audacity to look Avery right in the eyes as she admitted the truth. "I cheated on you with Elle."

At Paisley's admission the tears that had been welling in her eyes came out and onto her cheek, something that Paisley must have seen because she started to walker closer but Avery moved away, holding her hand up to stop her.

" that why you've been ignoring me for days?" Avery asked her tone coming out harsh as more tears came out. "Is that why you left my house in such a hurry? Because you made plans sometime on our trip to fucking cheat on me?!" she questioned and now all she saw was red.

Which if emotions were a color all she felt was red too. Just plain red.

Paisley now looked away from Avery and Avery watched as she swallowed hard. Like now it was beginning to get hard for her to look Avery in the eyes when just minutes before it was fine for her to look Avery in the eyes and admit she had cheated.

"Yeah, I made plans to cheat with her while we were traveling together," Paisley spoke and her words made Avery feel like she had been punched in the gut. Like someone had literally taken their fist and struck her hard right in the gut. "While we were in Paris to be exact," she continued as if she were filing in gaps or telling Avery a story. "The night after you said you wanted to come out. Remember I snuck out on the balcony to take a phone call."

"You said that was Cal," Avery reminded her as her breath hitched and new tears found their way down Avery's cheeks.

Tears she didn't even try to wipe away. What was the use right now when she knew she'd just keep crying? She didn't see an end in sight.

"Isn't it obvious, I lied to you Avery," Paisley told her and again she avoided Avery's gaze though she let out a bitter sounding laugh. "Did you really think I'd stay faithful?" she asked Avery as she finally turned to look at her. "Me of all people? I warned you not to fall in love with me Avery. Now I guess you have to live with the consequences don't you?" she asked with a shake of her head before she looked away again.

Avery feeling like she was going crazy because before Paisley looked away it seemed like she had tears in her own eyes.

Which why would she? Especially when her words made it seem like she didn't care at all.

"Fuck you Paisley," Avery muttered out angrily watching as Paisley jumped at her words though she still stayed facing away from Avery. "Fuck you!" she repeated before turning on her heels and walking towards the door.

Not even having to say the words because she knew them already. Had known them before she even came here. She and Paisley were over.

Opening the door she slipped outside and went back to her car. The walk there seeming to take no time compared to the walk to Paisley's apartment and when she made it to her car she had to bend over.

Feeling slightly sick from all of her crying. Her stomach soon losing its contents which were whatever small thing she had for lunch. Probably just a yogurt maybe because right now in her mind Avery couldn't even remember what she had ate just hours prior.

All she knew was how much she hurt. How much pain she was in emotionally.

When she did get in her car Avery just rested her head against her steering wheel, her mind replaying Paris and her coming out conversation. Now no longer sure if she wanted too because she didn't feel comfortable...didn't feel safe or ready.

Instead she felt like the same lost girl she had been before Paisley except maybe ten times worse. Hating the fact that she had made Paisley her home, her rock....her soulmate.

Making it home well after dark thanks to driving down one too many Tulsa back roads, Avery pulled her car into the driveway beside a car she didn't recognize.

Briefly remembering that Jessica had mentioned something about her mom inviting new people from church over to dinner. Avery only heaving a tiny sigh because she was sure she looked like a mess and she didn't want to meet strangers while looking like shit.

So she'd just have to bypass the kitchen on her way in.

Getting out of her car in a hurry, Avery headed towards her house going inside as quietly as she could. Heaving a sigh of relief when she successfully made it upstairs her room in sight.

Though the moment she made it to her room she became a sobbing mess again as she went to her bed and reached for her laptop which she turned on.

Quickly pulling up pictures of her trip with Paisley as she opened Itunes and put on the saddest music she could deciding to drown in her feelings as well as music now.

Something she must have gotten lost in doing until she heard a knock on her door and she looked up to see Zoe standing there holding a plate in her hands.

"Mom wanted me to bring you dinner," Zoe told her as she stepped into the room a bit apprehensively.

"I'm surprised she even realized I was home," Avery stated as she took the plate from Zoe, watching as her sister's eyes landed on the picture she had open on her laptop.

A picture of her and Paisley right after they got their tattoos. Proudly showing them off to the camera which Hannah had been holding.

"She's our mom of course she realized," Zoe spoke as she finally looked back at Avery, a tiny frown passing her face. " something wrong?" she asked which surprised Avery given how Zoe had treated her days before.

Avery shook her head as fresh tears once again went down her cheek, "Paisley and I are no longer friends," she answered being honest. "I guess mom's God answered her prayers and ended our friendship."

Chapter Text

July 2008

"I don't think she cheated on you," Juniper told Avery as they sat in her room. Avery having finally came out of her room after a night of crying to herself.

Doing nothing but running to one of her best friends after. The other being in San Francisco so of course she couldn't run to her. Probably wouldn't anyway because Avery was afraid Cordelia would rub this in her face. Tell her she always knew Paisley was bad news.

"Junie I literally caught them and she confessed," Avery stated as she took a bite of the pineapple and ham pizza that Juniper had ordered just for her.

Juniper still being on her no meat kick this month but Avery suspected it wouldn't last long. That she'd go back to meat soon because she always did.

"Yeah and I think she's lying. I'm telling you she did call Cal the night she said she did. I know because we were in the middle of having sex and Cal made an argument on answering the phone because she hadn't heard from Paisley since you guys left."

Avery rolled her eyes at that as she swallowed her bite of pizza, "Well maybe Pai used her as an excuse. But either way she cheated on me and was cruel and we're done," she spoke feeling like she wanted to cry after saying that because of course even though she had accepted reality she still very much loved Paisley.

May always love Paisley because Paisley was her first love and did one ever really get over first loves?

Avery had heard horror stories about old people who still missed their first loves. Not wanting to be one of them but now afraid she could be because of how deeply she loved...still so very much loved the girl who had cheated on her.

"Which is a bummer because you two were amazing together," Juniper spoke with a frown, Avery knowing she'd probably remain convinced that Paisley hadn't cheated even though Paisley had fucking confessed to it so easily.

Like the fact that she cheated had meant nothing. Like Avery had meant nothing and maybe she hadn't meant anything to Paisley.

Which hurt because Paisley was her world...the person she considered home. Her safe place and now it was gone.

"Oh Avie," Juniper stated as she reached out and pulled Avery into her. "Don't cry. I don't want you crying on my watch," she spoke and her words made Avery realize that she had started crying against her own will.

Not even realizing she had really and she sat her slice of pizza back down on it's plate. Not wanting to cry on her pizza.

"Well I don't want to cry but I can't help it," Avery hiccuped softly as she buried herself into Juniper as she closed her eyes. "Everything still hurts and every time I close my eyes I keep seeing Ellery in just her shirt and underwear the way I saw her yesterday. Then I picture her in bed with Paisley and I slept like shit last night because of it."

Juniper frowned as she rubbed the side of Avery's arm, holding her closer. "I'm sorry you're going through this Avie," she told her and for someone who didn't believe that Paisley had cheated she did sound honest in that.

Probably meaning she was sorry that Avery had to believe Paisley cheated. Though Avery saw no logical reason why she'd lie.

Why if she truly loved Avery she'd let her suffer like this.

The only thing there could be was Paisley had cheated and Avery had meant nothing to her. Nothing whatsoever.

"So am I," Avery hiccuped again as she cried harder. "Remind me never to fall in love again Junie."

Juniper gave a tiny laugh at that, "I don't think I'll do that because I know you will," she told her sounding sure of that.

Avery too was sure she would as well. But she was also afraid no matter who she fell in love with next would ever compare to Paisley. Not when she could still so vividly see a future with Paisley.

A future Paisley knew she had dreamed of and yet had no problem in smashing to pieces when she had made a plan to cheat and then followed through with it.

Opening her eyes Avery pulled away from Juniper as she wiped her eyes, calming down some. "Let's just finish our pizza and then binge watch every sad movie you have," she murmured not sure if the plan to watch sad movies would help.

But at least Avery would have a different emotional thing to cry over than her own pain and heartbreak.

Sitting in the airport Avery looked over at Zac who had offered to drive her this time. Something Avery was sure he had used as an excuse to get out of the house for a bit.

His body still showing the signs of what a new father looked like...maybe. Taylor and Isaac had never looked as run down as Zac did but then again Taylor and Isaac were wired differently than Zac.

"You okay Avie baby?" Zac asked her as they sat beside each other. A look of worry on his face. "You've been silent and that's so unlike the sister I know and love."

Avery forced a smile at Zac's question, "Just sad about leaving I guess," she shrugged though her words were a lie.

A part of Avery wanted to leave and get as far away from Tulsa as possible. Get away from Paisley and Ellery and the memories of being cheated on.

"You sure that's all?" Zac questioned again as if he didn't believe her which of course he wouldn't.

He knew how happy she had seemed during the Fourth of July. Knew she wanted this trip still so of course he'd see through her bullshit about being sad to leave.

Looking away from him Avery ran a hand through her hair which she had wore down today. Just not feeling up to fix it up much this morning. "Paisley and I are no longer friends," she told him knowing she may as well tell him. He and Kate had gotten unusually close to her.

"Oh," Zac stated with a frown. "Kate's going to be devastated. She's the first one of your friends that she actually liked."

Avery laughed sadly at that, "Just Kate?" she questioned him with a knowing look.

"Okay maybe me too even if she was a liberal and she broke your tattoo virginity with matching tattoos," Zac muttered out his words making Avery laugh more which lifted her spirits some.

"Are you upset that I didn't get a matching tattoo with you?" Avery asked not even commenting on the virginity part even if she had been so close to revealing that wasn't the only virginity of Avery's that Paisley stole.

But of course she didn't because Avery was kind of content in her closet again. Not wanting to come out just yet anymore.

Not since she had lost Paisley. The person who she hoped would help her through things if she came out and it didn't go well.

Zac rolled his eyes at that, "No, because I don't want a tattoo," he spoke which Avery knew was a lie and so she gave him another look watching as he blushed. "Okay maybe I do but Kate would kill me if I got one and I never really considered getting a matching tattoo with you though now the idea is there," he smirked softly. "I was just upset that you were the first Hanson to ever get a tattoo. I wanted that honor."

"Yet you married a woman who will kill you if you get one," Avery reminded him which made Zac lift his finger and flip her off.

Laughter once again falling from her mouth, though after that they both fell silent. Knowing they had at least an hour left to wait. Avery hating that Zac for once had been early for something.

Especially since he usually ran on Hanson time which was late.

"I'm going to go to Starbucks and get another coffee," Avery told him as she stood from the chair she was sitting in, stretching slightly because her ass had gone numb. "Do you want a drink or anything?"

Zac shook his head as he looked up at her, "I'm good," he stated and Avery wanted to argue. Telling him a drink may make him look more alive instead of the zombie he resembled but instead she bit her tongue.

Nodding her head before walking off and heading to Starbucks to get another coffee that would hopefully help keep her awake until she got on her flight where she'd sleep some.

Even if sleep was still hard for her because she still was haunted by the images of Paisley and Ellery.

Which Avery knew she shouldn't have even thought about that right now. Only getting lost in her thoughts as she did so. An action that eventually caused her to bump into a solid body.

Landing her on the floor on her ass as she looked up at the person she had bumped into. A way too cheerful man with huge green eyes and endearing dimples.

His arm which he was extending out to her covered in tattoos and she reached out to take it, giving him a glare as she stood up.

"Watch where you're going," Avery muttered out harshly as she eyed him. "You could have killed me you know."

"But I didn't kill you," the green eyed stranger told her as he kept his smile. "You're fine even if a bit grumpy which you shouldn't be a grump to someone. Never know if you may see them again somehow."

Avery rolled her eyes at that, keeping her glare, "I wasn't a grump," she lied knowing maybe she was a bit grumpy but it was only because this green eyed stranger basically reminded her of Paisley if she were a man and a lot taller but of course the world hated her.

Wanting her thinking of Paisley whenever she could.

"And I highly doubt I'll see you again so if you'll excuse me," Avery told him as she walked past him.

Hearing him call out from behind her that she was excused and she had to fight every urge she had to flip him off. Knowing he'd probably see it because he was probably watching her.

The damn irritating stranger who had nearly killed her even if she had been the one not watching where she was going.

Chapter Text

July 2008

Sitting on the plane sometime later Avery smiled softly as she reached into the pocket of her jeans, having half registered Zac telling her to check it once she was on the plane and now that she had remembered it and done just that she felt a bit happier seeing a folded up piece of paper.

Something Zac must have done when Avery had been on her Starbucks run because she hadn't seen him with a notebook before she left or even when she got back. Just like somehow she had missed him even slipping the paper into her jeans pocket as they hugged.

But unfolding it her smile grew as she saw a picture of two blackbirds and a simple lyric from The Beatles song Blackbird and written under the picture was a few words from Zac.

Him telling her that if they ever got matching tattoo's that was what it should be and maybe they could get it on their feet somehow so it'd be easier to keep hidden from Kate most of the time except when they were in bed.

An image that made Avery laugh out loud without her even meaning too.

"Something funny miss grump?" a familiar voice spoke from beside her and Avery turned her head almost too fast, feeling herself going pale as she saw the man from earlier. The one who she had ran into and the one who she had been a grump towards. "Ah, see I told you, you should be careful who you're grumpy towards. You may end up seeing them again."

Avery nodded her head with a regretful sounding sigh, "That you did," she admitted as she looked away from him long enough to fold up the drawing from Zac and put it back in her pocket. "I guess I should apologize for being a grump huh?"

"Probably," the stranger nodded as he ran a hand through his long hair. Hair that resembled Zac's right now except a darker shade of brown and way more washed and healthy looking.

"Sorry," Avery mumbled with a blush. "It's just I guess you reminded me of someone I know....knew," she corrected not used to having to refer to Paisley in the past tense now.

Because that's what Paisley was, her past.

The stranger raised an eyebrow, "An ex?" he asked almost like he was used to getting that often.

"Yeah," Avery confirmed with a nod of her head again giving a regretful sigh. "An ex."

"He must have really fucked you up then."

"She," Avery corrected the stranger who blushed some at her correction. "And she did."

"I'm sorry," the stranger told her sounding genuine. "My name is Ethan though. Ethan Winston and I'm sorry that I remind you of your ex girlfriend."

"Not your fault really," Avery told him because how could it be?

It was her fault in the end. Her fault for falling for Paisley and her fault for being reminded of her in each and everything she seemed to see or do anymore.

Hoping that maybe it was just a side effect of how deeply she had loved and once she realized she had lost it would go away when the wound healed. That she'd finally have peace from the storm that was known as Paisley and that felt like it had ruined her life in some way.

Made her feel things and have hope when she shouldn't have. Maybe her mom had somehow been right and maybe she was bad news all along. Avery being too blinded by love or lust or both to see it.

"Nice to meet you Ethan," Avery told him as she held her hand out to him. "I'm Avery. Avery Hanson."

After their introductions were over things fell silent between Avery and Ethan. At least until after the plane had taken off and Ethan was the first to break their silence.

"So are you by chance related to the band Hanson?" Ethan asked with a raised eyebrow.

Avery feeling her heart stop because of course it would be her luck that this stranger knew who her brother's band was.

"No," Avery lied so effortlessly with a shake of her head almost wanting to pretend for awhile that she wasn't their younger sister.

That she was just by chance a person who happened to have the same last name as them.

Ethan furrowed his brow as if he didn't believe her though not once did he call her on it. Instead he just shrugged his shoulders. "My ex-boyfriend was a fan of theirs," he told her with a tiny smirk. "As was my fuck buddy Georgia. She really loved it that they had a song with her name in it."

"So you're bisexual?" Avery asked him curiously as she felt her cheeks getting hot at that. Hoping that she hadn't overstepped her boundaries.

"I don't really like labels but I guess if you want to say that," Ethan told her with a tiny smile. "I just like people in general and sex with people so I just go with the flow and where it takes me."

Avery took in his words before going silent. Never having seen sexuality without labels before but maybe she should have.

Which again made her wonder if she was truly a lesbian. Maybe she could be like Ethan and just love people in general and sex with people.

"You're curious aren't you?" Ethan asked as if he could read her mind and Avery gave him a confused look. "Just I know a woman's thinking face and yours is showing that you're thinking Hanson."

Feeling a pang when Ethan called her Hanson, Avery shook her head, "Don't ever call me that again," she told him knowing that it was a nickname she only wanted from Paisley and well she'd never see her again so she'd never hear it again. "And maybe I am curious," she admitted softly.

Hating how easily she could be seen through even by people she'd never met before.

Ethan smirked at her admission as he leaned in close to her, "Well how about I slip you my address and maybe if you're planning on staying in New York for a bit you can come pay me a visit at my apartment," he whispered in her ear.

His breath hitting her skin and making her shiver.

"O...okay," Avery whispered back knowing that she probably shouldn't have agreed to it but she wanted to at least try and see.

Know for sure whether she was a lesbian or a bisexual or just someone who loved people and why the hell not try with a man who reminded her so much of her ex.

Again after that things fell silent between Ethan and Avery for most of the rest of the flight. Ethan keeping his word of slipping Avery his address.

A piece of paper she kept a hold of even as she got off the flight and left the airport. Hailing a cab to take her to the hotel she was staying in tonight.

Just one night because after tonight she was heading to a family friend's who had an apartment in the city but was out of town for the night. Thankfully just this night as the hotel had been semi expensive and Avery would have hated to see the cost if she had been staying for more than one night.

After showering once she had made it to her hotel and ordering a small take out order of Chinese, Avery chewed on her lip as she looked over the address that Ethan had given her.

Blushing when she realized that he had also added his phone number at the bottom of the piece of paper with a winking smiley face.

Shaking her head Avery reached for her cell phone, slowly typing in the number he had given her before putting the phone to her ear and waiting for an answer.

"Hello?" Ethan's voice sounded after the second ring.

"Ethan, hey it's Avery from the flight."

"Ah the grump who was only a grump because I reminded her of her ex," Ethan spoke sounding all teasing. "Calling me up to take me up on my offer of sex already?" he asked and Avery hated how blunt he had been.

Almost feeling dirty but why should she? Isn't that how she and Paisley started as strangers who met during a proposition of sex?

"Indeed I am," Avery confirmed as her blush grew. "I guess I was wondering if it was a good time for you. I'm not sure if you know you're busy and all."

"It's always a good time for me when it comes to sex," Ethan spoke sounding as if he was standing and moving stuff around. "I'll umm just freshen up and leave the door open for you unless you needed me to come and pick you up."

Avery shook her head at that question, "No I can walk there. It isn't far from the hotel I'm staying at," she told him honestly and after saying that they both hung up without even saying goodbye.

Avery holding onto her cell phone as she stood from the bed and grabbed her hotel room key. Leaving her room in a hurry and hoping to God Zac never found out about this somehow.

Because surely her brother who hated her traveling alone would have a fit over her agreeing to hook up with a stranger she met on a plane ride to go and have sex with them.

But then again that was still also how she met Paisley and Paisley hadn't been a creep. She had just been someone who had broken Avery's heart and was still making it hard to breathe since she couldn't stop thinking of her.

After making it to Ethan's apartment Avery took a deep breath as she got up the nerve to reach for the doorknob and open the door.

Turning it slowly and stepping inside right as Ethan entered his living room in a tight pair of skinny jeans, his hair pulled back into a bun and a button down shirt that showed off a butterfly tattoo in the middle of his chest and two birds higher up.

Avery knowing that she shouldn't have been surprised by the ink on his chest given his arms were covered in it.

"I was beginning to get afraid you weren't going to show," Ethan smirked as he walked to where Avery stood after Avery had shut the door. "You want the grand tour of the place. It's tiny and not much to look at though."

Laughing Avery only shook her head no at that. "Nope," she spoke verbally popping her p some. "Let's just cut to the chase about why I am really here," she muttered as she leaned in, being the bold one as she closed the gap and kissed him.

Feeling him return the kiss seconds later, his hands sliding up and under her shirt as he slowly backed her against the wall and Avery guessed they weren't even going to go to a bedroom.

But did that even matter? This was just sex so she could find things out. Not a commitment. Not like Paisley had been.

Ethan really was going to just be a one time thing hopefully.

Chapter Text

July 2008

Waking the next morning in a bed Avery opened her eyes fast as she looked around her surroundings. She was in a bed in a tiny room and when she slowly turned over, her eyes grew a bit wider as she saw Ethan sleeping beside her.

Her mind slowly replaying the events of last night. How she had came to his apartment and had sex with him while being pushed against a wall and then after they had smoked a joint, talked about the sex over take out pizza and proceeded to head to the bedroom where they had once again had sex.

Just so Avery could be positive in her thoughts on sex with men. Something that she was now sure hadn't changed after the first time.

Sex with men just wasn't as good as it was with women and she'd like to never experience it again. Not even if she were the last female on earth and the only way to populate again would be to have sex with a man.

She'd just let creation slowly die off and now as she slowly sat up in bed maybe she hated herself some too. Hated that she even wanted to try having sex with a man. Knowing she had only really even tried just as a way to get her mind off the girl who had hurt her.

Forget for a few hours that Paisley had existed and while that had worked well now she had the present and she couldn't go her whole life just fucking Paisley away.

Even if that seemed like a nice option.

No she just had to pick herself up and try moving on the best she could and the only way she knew to do that was through her friends and maybe her art. Almost having her mind made up on buying some canvases and paints before heading to her friend's apartment today.

But first she needed to shower and head back to her hotel. Get her stuff and maybe get a quick breakfast.

Biting her lip Avery slowly sat up and did her best to slip out of the bed without waking Ethan up. Something that was unsuccessful when she heard someone clear their throat from behind her as she walked towards the bedroom door to go and get her clothes which were still in the living room.

"Where you going to runaway on me Avie?" Ethan asked his voice rough from sleep. "That isn't very nice."

Avery bit her lip harder as she turned to face Ethan, a blush on her cheeks, "I wasn't running per say. I was just going to get my clothes and take a quick shower before running," she clarified as her blush grew.

"So you were running," Ethan spoke sounding amused as he sat up in bed pushing the thin sheet off him and just sitting in the bed naked as if it was nothing.

Then again Avery was standing in his room naked as if it was nothing either and it was nothing. The sex was good but not fantastic and she had no romantic feelings for Ethan.

"I was running," Avery confessed as she buried her head in her hands for a few seconds. "I'm awful aren't I?"

Ethan laughed loudly at that, "Not awful but you could have at least left me a note. Maybe wouldn't have bruised my ego too badly."

"I'm sorry," Avery apologized as she gave him an apologetic smile. "It's just the second round of sex didn't really change my opinion. Having sex with women is still way better. Like out of this world better."

"Then I think you found the answer you were looking for my darling Avery," Ethan told her as he stood from the bed and stretched. "You're a lesbian and not bisexual or just someone who likes sex with people. You like sex with women," he smirked as he walked to where she was standing. "Now go shower and I'll make you breakfast. Then you can run and never have to see me again."

Nodding her head Avery finally turned to leave the bedroom, Ethan falling in step behind her and once she made it to the living room to get her clothes he went into the kitchen to start on breakfast.

Though after she had her clothes and before she went to the bathroom Avery paused as she looked at Ethan, "You know I don't think I never want to see you again. I mean I'd like us to be friends maybe," she told him honestly.

Knowing that even if she never wanted to have sex with him again she was intrigued by him.

"I think we can do that," Ethan replied back and he seemed genuine when he said that. "We'll just never tell anyone we had sex."

"Deal," Avery laughed softly before finally turning and heading to the bathroom to take a quick shower. Hoping that when she got done he had breakfast ready because she was hungry again.

Needed the food to give her energy to make it back to her hotel in one piece as well as coffee so she hoped he made coffee. That he drank it or at least kept it on hand like Paisley did.

After arriving back to her hotel room, Avery let herself inside before going to the bed where she sat down and the moment she did she hated herself for breaking down crying.

All the pent up shame and guilt hitting her. Not just guilt that she had sex with a man but just guilt that she had sex with someone who wasn't Paisley because it seemed her heart still hadn't gotten the memo that they were broken up.

That Paisley had cheated and broken what she told Avery she'd never do. A fact that made Avery see red again.

A new shade of red a darker red that Avery didn't even know existed. A red that burned so fucking bright and made her cry even harder as she put her head in her hands again. Knowing if she could she'd probably spend all day in the room crying.

But of course she couldn't, she had to leave and get to her friends apartment.

Sighing softly Avery moved her head from her hands as she wiped fiercely at her eyes before getting her cell phone out and dialing a familiar number. A number she knew she shouldn't call but one she couldn't stop herself from calling nonetheless.

Though she wasn't surprised when after the fifth ring she was greeted with a voicemail message she knew well.

"Hello you've reached Paisley and if you've reached this message there is really only one of two options of why I haven't answered you. I'm either ignoring you or busy fucking my girlfriend," her voice spoke and after the last words Avery frowned as she could hear herself laughing in the background because of course she had been there when Paisley had recorded it. "If you'd be so kind as to leave me a message at the beep."

Waiting for the beep Avery heaved a tiny sigh before speaking, "I'm not sure why I'm calling. I guess I just wanted to tell you that I had sex with someone else finally. I finally fucked someone else days after you fucked things up with us and I hate you for that. I hate that because of you I have to find someone else now and I have to move on and I hate you. I hate that even as much as I hate you I also love you and just fuck you Paisley," she sighed before hanging up the phone.

Throwing it down on the bed before standing to get her things together to leave for her friends.

Being midway through doing that when she heard her phone vibrate and maybe she ran for it too fast, hoping to see Paisley's name but instead she was greeted with a text from Cordelia.

The one friend who she had been ignoring since her breakup because she knew once she told Cordelia that she'd just rub it in. That she had been right in not liking Paisley and that she'd tell Avery she should have seen it coming.

That in the end she should have just gave Cordelia the chance, then she wouldn't be hurting and feeling like she was dying slowly.

Opening the message she frowned seeing Cordelia's question.

How are you?

Awful...long story. You?

Same. Long story as well wanna tell me about it?

Paisley and I broke up. She cheated on me with Ellery. Guess I can make it simple for you. You?

Jane dumped me because she's convinced I still love you. We're in the same boat it seems, heartbroken over girls.

The universe hates us.

It does but maybe we can make each other feel better and kick the universe's ass.

Avery laughed at that last text before sending another.

How do you propose we do that Cordy?

Skype each other and talk face to face like actual best friends. I haven't seen your actual face since June and I miss ya.

I can do that. Are you free tonight? I'll be at Holly's but I should be able to skype. Holly has a night time shift at the bar where she works.

I am free and Holly? Didn't you stay with her sister Hannah when you were in California?

I did but Holly insisted if I were coming to New York for the whole month I was staying with her. Anyway she wants me to meet her girlfriend Sadie. She thinks I'll like her because she is into art as well and teaches art at a local art center here in New York not far from where they live.

I always forgot Holly was the gay Mitchell sister or maybe I just don't care enough since I never liked them and only really hung out with them through you.

Haha...Talk to you tonight Cordelia.

Talk to you tonight Avery.

Sitting on the bed in Holly and Sadie's guest room Avery crinkled her face as she looked at Cordelia who had told her she looked cute in her pajamas with her hair thrown up into a messy ponytail.

"You know," Avery told her as she took a sip from the glass of water she had poured herself before getting comfortable for her skype session with Cordelia. "Maybe Jane was right and you are still in love with me."

Cordelia rolled her eyes at that though her silence told Avery everything she needed to know. Despite dating someone else for a few months she still had feelings for Avery and Avery wished she had feelings for Cordelia, knowing at least Cordelia wouldn't hurt her the way Paisley had.

"I wish I had feelings for you still," Avery confessed admitting her thoughts out loud. "I should have just listened to you and my mom when it came to Pai. You were both right and in the end you would have been the better option for me. You wouldn't have broken my heart."

"Oh Ave but there is beauty in learning from the mistakes," Cordelia spoke and Avery hated to admit she had a point just like she hated Cordelia calling Paisley a mistake. "You've learned better now though hopefully and that's all that matters."

Nodding her head Avery sighed, "I guess I have," she spoke not sure if she had because if she had learned would she still be in love?

"Well if you haven't you have me here to remind you for as long as you need me Avie," Cordelia grinned and Avery couldn't help but smile in response.

Cordelia's grin just being so big and lively.

"As long as I need you?" Avery asked with a raised eyebrow. "So we could skype every night that I need you?"

Cordelia grinned more as if she liked the idea, "Every night Avie. I'm your best friend and I'm here for you."

"Well it might just be every night then," Avery told her knowing it was probably selfish and probably took time out of Cordelia's day but Avery felt like being selfish and it was better than just fucking people to forget what had happened and that she still loved Paisley.

Chapter Text

October 2008

Avery nervously stood outside of Juniper and Calliope's apartment wondering if she should knock or just call a cab. Wondering why she had even arrived a day early except for the fact that she was getting tired and restless in Tulsa and she wanted to see one of her best friend's

That and she needed to talk to Juniper about Cordelia and the recent new developments in her and Cordelia's friendship.

Developments that had only started after both of them had gotten dumped at the same time. Texting each other days after it happened to console each other and both finding out they had been texting for the same reason.

Both girls having been dumped by the women they had been dating. It was enough to have made them start skyping every night as well as texting even as Avery traveled for the rest of the summer and once she had gotten back to Tulsa their conversations hadn't stopped.

They still had found time to chat and talk and sometimes just to sit there in silence with each other or watch movies together via skype.

It was enough that maybe it was bringing Avery's old crush for her best friend back. A crush that she had thought had died when Paisley had been in the picture but maybe it hadn't quite died.

Maybe she had just buried it for all the misplaced feelings she had for Paisley. Feelings she should have never put in anyone who would cheat on her. Had planned to cheat while traveling the world with her..someone who had even once promised to never do it because she hadn't wanted to ruin what they had.

Yet had so easily done it anyway and then told her that what had happened was the consequence of falling in love with her.

She should have always just went for Cordelia, her safer option because the other option hadn't worked out. It had burned her hard.

Taking a deep breath though, Avery came out of her thoughts and knocked on the door finally. Waiting for a response and hoping her showing up early wouldn't be an inconvenience to Juniper or Calliope.

"I told you, you shouldn't have left so early and that you'd forget something..." Juniper started as soon as she opened the door but stopped talking mid sentence when she saw Avery. A blush coating her cheeks. "Oh I...I wasn't expecting to see you standing there Avery," she muttered out with a shake of her head. "Thought you'd be someone else."

"Someone else?" Avery asked with a raised eyebrow.

Juniper raising her own, "Yes someone else. Now what exactly in the ever loving fuck are you doing here a day early when I didn't expect to see you here until tomorrow, the day of your brothers concert?" she asked as she moved aside so that Avery could come in.

"Was it her?" Calliope called from where she sat on the couch, her head not facing the door at least not that Avery could see as she stepped inside.

"No," Juniper answered and her words made Calliope turn her head finally an eyebrow quirking up as she made a peculiar face when she saw Avery. "It was Avery," she stated sounding like she indeed was surprised by Avery's visit though Avery thought there was something else in Juniper's voice.

Just like there seemed to be something else in the expression on Calliope's face.

"Oh," Calliope muttered out as she chewed on her lip. "I thought she wasn't coming until tomorrow night."

"I wasn't coming until tomorrow night but I decided to surprise you and I needed to talk to Junie," Avery spoke up finally as she smiled though she still felt like there was something Juniper and Calliope where keeping from her.

Juniper crossed her arms over her chest, "Needed to talk to me about something?" she questioned.

"About Cordy," Avery shrugged looking down at the bag in her hand. "But can I put this away first?" she asked not wanting to stand in the middle of the living room holding her bag like some idiot. "Because if not at this rate you and Cal have terrible hospitality and I'll have to give you a two star rating."

Juniper chewed on her lip briefly before nodding her head, "Y..yeah come on," she muttered as she ushered Avery back towards the guest bedroom. "There umm...there is someone else staying here for the night but I'm sure they won't mind sleeping on the couch tonight."

"Someone else is staying here?" Avery questioned as she turned her head to look at Juniper. Knowing that yeah Juniper had thought someone else had been at the door as had Calliope but she hadn't expected someone else to be staying here now.

Juniper pasted on a smile as she nodded her head, "She's leaving tomorrow but yeah, just passing through as she heads to New York where she plans on planting roots for awhile with the woman she's dating at the moment."

"Ah, so she was going to be gone by the time Cordelia and I got here tomorrow and now my early arrival semi complicates things?" Avery asked figuring that was why Juniper seemed so off.

Avery was now inconveniencing someone to the couch when they should have had the guest bed. "If that's the case I can take the guest bedroom."

"It's something like that but trust me Avie she won't mind taking the couch," Juniper stated as she kept her smile as they made it to the guest room.

Avery going inside first where she slowly laid her bag down on the floor, "If you say so," she muttered before sitting on the edge of the bed.

"I do," Juniper nodded sounding like she was trying to convince herself and maybe Avery. "Now you said you wanted to talk to me about Cordy and that's the reason you came here early?"

"I did," Avery confirmed as she yawned softly, her traveling clearly catching up with her now. "But can our chat about Cordy wait until after I take a nap?"

Juniper busted out laughed at that as she shook her head, "Oh Avie," she muttered with a voice that only someone who knew her for years could use. "Only you would show up a day early and surprise me like really surprise me and then make fun of my hospitality and now you want to just take a nap instead of talk about the main reason you showed up early."

"Well it wasn't the main reason," Avery defended with a playful smile. "I did really miss you terribly too. I mean I haven't officially seen you since July."

"Yeah, yeah." Juniper teased her as she shook her head. "Just nap and we'll talk tonight over dinner or something. Maybe I'll even take you out to a nice fancy place even if I am such a horrible hostesses when my guest just up and surprises me with her day early arrival."

Avery kept her playful smile as she yawned again, "Your rating is going down to one now," she called out as Juniper flipped her off before finally moving out of the room and shutting the door.

Avery falling back gently on the bed after she had. Her hand automatically reaching for the necklace she still had and wore.

The one that had been a gift from Paisley. Her eyes falling shut as she wondered how to even go about bringing up the stuff with Cordelia to Juniper.

But before she could fully form a plan sleep won over and she was out like a light.

"So tell me about what you wanted to talk about concerning Cordelia," Juniper spoke as she sat across from Avery at the restaurant not far from her apartment.

Both of them having ordered a grilled chicken with a side salad and a water with lemon.

Avery nervously looked away as she used her fork to pick at her chicken. Clearly using it as a diversion tactic for now. Until she could face Juniper head on.

"I think I like her again," Avery mumbled not even sure if Juniper could hear her. "Like before Paisley like her."

Juniper coughed some, clearly over exaggerating which made Avery look up at her, "You mean you like like Cordelia?" she questioned her face looking almost comical. "When exactly did these feelings of yours change again and why didn't I get the memo here Avie. I am one of your best friends you know."

"I know," Avery blushed finally taking a bite of her chicken. Waiting until she swallowed to answer her. "But I didn't tell you because I know you're kind of still hoping that somehow I'll reunite with Paisley somehow which is absurd because she cheated on me and I don't want to date someone again who could so carelessly cheat on me."

"I still stand by the fact that she didn't cheat on you," Juniper stated nonchalantly. Something she had said ever since the day after Avery had found Paisley and Ellery. Ever since Paisley had admitted it herself. "But you still could have told me about Cordelia."

Avery again looked away and took a few more bites of her chicken, "Maybe so," she agreed as she reached for her water and sipped on it. "But as for your earlier question on when things changed. When I finally told her Paisley and I had broken up and she confessed to me that so had she and Jane. We spent most of the last few months texting and skyping every night. Some nights not even talking just watching movies together or listening to music and I guess her being there. It changed things and made me realize maybe I never stopped having feelings for her."

"So you're saying that what, you buried your feelings for Cordelia?" Juniper questioned as she eyed Avery intently.

"Yep," Avery confirmed with a head nod. "That's what I'm saying and I'm asking you what I should do about this because I'm terrified to tell her because what if she has moved on or what if she hates me for hurting her before."

Now it was Juniper who looked away from Avery which let Avery knew she knew something. That she was trying to hide what she knew.

"I think Cordelia would be okay with you liking her again," Juniper spoke as if she was trying to choose her words wisely. "So maybe you should tell her and decide what to do. Though I'm afraid for you guys dating to be honest."

Avery scrunched up her nose at that, "Afraid for us to date?"

"Yeah because what if it doesn't work out and what if it ruins your friendship," Juniper explained as if it should make all the sense in the world. "I don't want to have to choose sides."

"Well hopefully it works," Avery smirked as she looked at Juniper. "I mean why wouldn't it. We've been best friends forever and we know each other well and I could be happy with her."

Juniper sighed before finishing off her water, "Could be is the key word there. You could be not you would be because again this all goes down to you and how you don't like the safe choice Avery. You like a bit of danger and let's be honest Cordy god bless her heart isn't an ounce of danger."

"Yeah well the danger option got me hurt last time so maybe safe is better," Avery retorted which seemed to shut Juniper up.

Shut her up enough that they finished their meal in silence. Juniper seeming like she was just as lost in thought over things as Avery was.

The silence that had settled over Juniper and Avery seemed to last even on the walk back to Juniper's apartment. Only being broken when they made it back inside, the only sound in the apartment being that of the shower running in the bathroom.

Juniper mumbling something to herself about how Cal was asleep before turning on her heel to look at Avery with a panicked look on her face.

"So umm there is probably something you should know about the person who is staying with us," Juniper began pausing only when the shower stopped running. "Something we probably should have told you before now."

"Like what?" Avery asked almost amused at how panicked her friend looked. A look that increased as the bathroom door opened.

"That it's..." Juniper started only to be stopped when Avery finished for her.

"Paisley," Avery muttered softly as she watched Paisley saunter into the living room clad only in her usual flannel pajama pants and a band t-shirt.

Not looking the least bit surprised to see Avery which Calliope must have told her before now but Avery well Avery was surprised to say the least to see the girl whom she hadn't seen since July when finding out she cheated.

Though maybe she shouldn't have been surprised, not when her brain remembered how odd Juniper had been when she first had shown up at the door today.

Chapter Text

October 2008

"I'm guessing you didn't get around to telling Avery yet that I was the person staying here," Paisley spoke up after several minutes of Avery, Juniper, and Paisley all just standing there in an uncomfortable silence.

A very uncomfortable silence but what else could there be but silence. How did Avery even respond to seeing the girl who just months ago she had loved so fiercely. Who she had saw forever with just to have those dreams dashed when Paisley had cheated on her.

The only reminders she had even kept from those months being the tattoo on her wrist, the necklace around her neck and a shoe box with letters and pictures and a CD she hadn't listened too since Paisley had left her life.

"I was just getting to it," Juniper admitted sounding so small. "I didn't know how really," she sighed with a shake of her head as she looked at Avery.

Avery only stared back at her, a glare settling on her face as everything sank in. Paisley really was the guest staying tonight and leaving tomorrow to go to settle in New York with whatever woman she was dating now...maybe Ellery maybe not.

It wasn't like Avery cared or even had a right too. She wasn't dating Paisley anymore. Was free from that relationship now.

"You should have found a way to tell me," Avery snapped her tone making Juniper shrink away from her. "So I could have found somewhere else to stay."

Paisley laughed out loud at that, "Clearly someone's still bitter."

"Clearly someone's still a..." Avery started only to be shushed when Juniper put her hand forcefully on Avery's mouth.

Avery almost tempted to bite it out of spite though she chose not too.

"No, you two aren't doing this right now. Cal is down the hall sleeping because she has a busy day in school tomorrow and you two aren't going to argue and wake her up. In fact you both kind of need to sit down like civilized adults and have a conversation about a lot of things," Juniper huffed out in one breath.

Her face turning to look at Paisley at the end which piqued Avery's interest especially when Paisley looked away a guilty look written on her face.

But no, Avery wasn't going to fall for her crap again. Had been drug in once and learned the hard way.

"No," Avery spoke finally as she moved away from Juniper. "Screw it I'm just going to take a shower and go to bed. I don't even want to see Paisley's face right now," she muttered under her breath as she turned on her heel to head to her room.

Wanting to just get her pajamas and shower then sleep. Hopefully waking up after Paisley was long gone.

"You sound just like your mom now," Paisley stated loud enough for Avery to hear. "Using the whole not even wanting to see my face. Guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree huh?"

Rolling her eyes it took all Avery had to stay silent but she did. Feeling proud of herself as she made it to the guest room where her bag was.

Which why shouldn't she feel proud of herself? It had taken a lot to not go off at being compared to her mom. A comparison she didn't like even if maybe it had been the truth because Avery had learned her words well.

Learned them from the best when she wanted to really wound someone.

Coming out of the bathroom after she was fully dressed and her hair was put up into a wet bun, Avery headed into the living room. Having every intention to walk out of there fast to avoid Paisley and avoid any idle chat with her.

But the moment she made it there she slowed some. Finding Paisley sitting on the couch with her earbuds in and her Ipod resting on her lap.

A sight that made Avery heave a sigh as she headed closer to the couch. Sitting down beside Paisley which made Paisley turn to look at her curiously, taking one earbud out.

"Just wondering what song you were listening too?" Avery asked knowing it was a lie. She had a lot more questions than that but that was all she felt brave enough to ask right now.

Paisley only gave her a sad smile as she lifted the earbud she had taken out to Avery.

Taking the earbud from her, Avery slipped it in soon hearing the song that Paisley had been listening too. A song that she hadn't heard since a night in Paris which seemed almost like a long time ago now.

Just like Avery felt like a completely different person now too.

"Dance with me," Paisley whispered softly as she came up behind Avery who had been in the middle of taking off the dress she had put on for an evening out with Paisley.

The last evening they would have in Paris as they were flying back to Tulsa tomorrow. Avery almost dreading it already because she knew tomorrow her family would find out Paisley had been the friend with her. Her mom surely would freak.

Though maybe her dad had worked his magic and she would be more lenient about Paisley. Only freaking the moment she saw Avery's tattoo.

"But there's no..." Avery started to protest by saying there was no music playing but was surprised when she heard music coming faintly from the second bed in the room where they had plugged in Avery's laptop days ago.

A perfect place for it since neither of them used the other bed. Had been sharing just one bed this whole trip even when there was no sex involved thanks to mother nature. Because just sleeping together was nice too.

Turning around to face Paisley, Avery pasted on a smile as felt Paisley slip her arm around Avery's waist. Paisley beginning to lead them in some slow dance around their hotel room.

Avery feeling almost content in Paisley's embrace especially when Paisley started to hum the song they were dancing too.

"What is this song?" Avery asked softly not sure she had ever heard the song before. Only knowing that the singer was Garth Brooks because there was no mistaking that fellow Oklahoman voice.

Though that shocked her because she didn't take Paisley as a country music fan.

"To Make You Feel My Love," Paisley answered before leaning in to leave a feather light kiss on Avery's cheek as her lips went to Avery's ear as they continued to move with the music. "It's originally written by Bob Dylan and was first done by Billy Joel but I kind of prefer the Garth version. Probably the only country song I like and maybe I consider it our song."

Avery gave Paisley an amused look at that, "Wasn't My Winding Wheel our song?" she asked curiously as she shivered when Paisley playfully nipped at her earlobe.

"I mean it could be but I prefer this song. This one is the one that I want playing if we ever get married. You know just so you can add it into all your weird imaginations about our maybe future together," Paisley laughed as she did the ear nip thing again and again Avery shivered.

"You're never going to let me live down telling you how I picture our future together are you?" Avery asked with a blush on her cheeks.

"Never in your wildest dreams Hanson."

"Why'd you cheat on me?" Avery finally asked as she slipped the earbud out after the song had ended. Her hand going up to wipe at tears she hadn't even realized had started to make their way out. "Wasn't I good enough?" she questioned as she turned her head to look at Paisley.

Seeing a pained look on the face of the girl who she had thought had been it for her. Sometimes secretly still wished was it for her.

Paisley let out a long sigh at that, running a hand through her hair which Avery realized finally that she had dyed back to her original dark brunette almost black color.

"I didn't cheat on you," Paisley whispered as she finally locked eyes with Avery.

The words she had just spoken making Avery's face contort in confusion. "Of course you did. You admitted it after I caught you with Ellery in your apartment half dressed."

"I admitted because I wanted you to believe it," Paisley told her as she slipped her earbud out too. "Needed a way to break up with you and the opportunity fell into my lap when you happened to show up and just assume what you had walked in on was me cheating."

Avery let out a choked laugh as more tears came out. "You're lying," she told Paisley feeling insistent on that. "I don't know why you're lying now but you're lying and I shouldn't have even stopped in here," she told her as she stood from the couch and started to head for the bedroom.

"Why do you still wear the necklace?" Paisley asked and her question made Avery stop in her tracks, her hand going to reach for the necklace which had been a gift from Paisley.

"Because it still means something to me," Avery answered not even facing Paisley.

"And you still mean something to me Avie so I'm done lying and I'm telling you the truth right now. I never cheated with Ellery. I needed a way to break up with you and if you want to know why ask your mom because I'm sure she'll tell you proudly," Paisley spat out sounding bitter.

Her words once again making Avery's face contort in confusion though she didn't question Paisley on what she said.

Instead she only shook her head and finished the walk back to her bedroom. Shutting the door before going to the bed where she collapsed.

Feeling confused about everything Paisley had said. Not sure if she could believe her because she could be lying especially if she had cheated.

But why was she even questioning that she had? She had owned up to it at first and was now backtracking for whatever reasons. Why should Avery doubt her first confession now and why should she even bother asking her mom something based on what was probably a silly lie.

Because Paisley wanted to lie for whatever reason. Maybe try luring Avery back even though she supposedly had someone new.

It was all too much for Avery and it was giving her a headache and all she wanted was sleep. Her eyes soon falling shut at that thought.

Hoping sleep would come easy to her after what had transpired and made her feel confused.

Being woken a while later Avery opened her eyes as she felt someone staring down at her. Not being in the least bit surprised to find Paisley as the one in front of her.

"Pai?" she asked softly as she sat up slightly, watching as Paisley sat on the edge of the bed. Avery automatically moving closer to her like a magnet or a moth to a flame.

Paisley only remained silent at her words and instead of answering she just leaned in and kissed Avery on the lips.

Avery not even being taken by surprise with the kiss and against her own better judgement and despite her own confusion over everything from earlier Avery kissed Paisley back.

Things just seeming to fall into place from there. Paisley pushing her back on the bed as she laid over her. Neither of them speaking a word as they fell into an old routine they knew well.

Avery knowing she should probably stop this for numerous reasons even knowing she should probably feel guilty because Paisley was dating someone else now and was going to New York to be with them tomorrow but she didn't feel guilty nor did she stop it.

Instead maybe she held Paisley just a bit tighter. Knowing this was the last time she'd have her like this.

Chapter Text

October 2008

Waking the next morning, Avery opened her eyes slowly a sleepy smile playing on her lips as she saw Paisley beside her in bed still. Almost afraid that when she woke up that Paisley would be gone and even if last night had been their last time she didn't want Paisley to be gone when she woke.

Would feel used even if maybe she had been used last night. Had allowed herself to let Paisley in again even after Paisley had tried to lie about the cheating.

Something that still had Avery stumped because why would Paisley lie? But then again she couldn't see what her mom could have done but she was still stumped on her deciding to lie now after she had already lost Avery. Had already moved on with someone else who she was moving to another state with.

Watching as Paisley moved some Avery felt herself freeze when Paisley opened her eyes and looked at her. The same sleepy smile Avery had moments before appearing on Paisley's lips.

Lips that Avery was aching to kiss again but she held herself back from it. Kept herself restrained because she really shouldn't fall back down the hole again.

"Thought I had dreamed last night," Paisley sighed as she moved into Avery some and Avery closed her eyes briefly, letting her because god how she had missed this.

The simple closeness and how easy it felt to be with Paisley even if Paisley did also give her that dangerous kind of thrill.

The thrill no one else but her gave Avery and a thrill that maybe Avery had been looking for in Ethan and hadn't found and one she surely knew Cordelia could never give her.

"Nope you didn't dream last night," Avery told her as she shivered, feeling Paisley's hand move to rest on her waist. "Though maybe you should have," she said knowing that while she had loved last night she felt a bit guilty for sleeping with Paisley when Paisley had someone else.

Had a girl who would be hurt if she ever found out about this the way Avery had been hurt when she found Ellery and Paisley.

Avery feeling like she was almost now no better than Paisley if she could willingly sleep with someone who was taken just because she was weak for the person she slept with.

Even when she was sure she had feelings for Cordelia again and wanted to try a relationship with her.

"Because you regret having sex with me now?" Paisley asked her softly as she left a kiss on Avery's neck right above the chain of the necklace that Paisley had given her.

Avery shook her head at that, "Because you have a girlfriend who you're moving to New York for or that's what Junie said when she described the person staying here before I knew it was you. That you were just staying here for one more night and then flying to New York to put down roots with some girl," she said hating the way she felt a pain in her chest.

Still wanting deep down to be the one that Paisley was putting down roots with and creating a future with.

"We have an open relationship," Paisley explained as she looked at Avery. "She's fine with me having sex with other women."

Avery scoffed at that, "Is that what you told Ellery when you made plans to cheat with her? That we were in an open relationship and I was fine with you having sex with other women."

"I told you I didn't cheat," Paisley muttered sticking by her story from last night. "Even if you want to be stubborn and not believe me just ask your mom."

"Yeah asking my mom that would just open a can of worms I'm not ready to let out just yet," Avery said knowing that she still after all this time wasn't ready to come out.

Had been before but that was when she had Paisley and maybe she had just wanted to come out with Paisley. Wanted Paisley at her side and for everyone to know how much she loved her. Was tired of hiding back then how much she had loved her girlfriend.

Paisley opened her mouth as if she wanted to say something but stopped and took a deep breath, leaving Avery wondering what she would have said.

"So you still haven't came out yet?" Paisley asked her as her finger tips began to trace invisible patterns on Avery's hip. "You said you wanted too in Paris."

"I did want too then," Avery nodded as she blushed softly. "But only because I wanted everyone to know I was a lesbian and that I loved you. Hoped maybe if my mom knew she'd cut us a break," she revealed watching as Paisley rolled her eyes at that.

An action Avery would have missed if she hadn't been watching the other girl for any reaction.

"But after you cheated and we broke up I just decided to stay in the closet. Felt so lost and confused and was back to almost being afraid at times of my sexuality. Had to have sex with a man in New York just to make sure I was a lesbian."

Paisley scrunched up her nose at that, "That's the person you called me and ranted about?" she asked and Avery blushed more remembering the angry voicemail message she had left Paisley after Ethan. "You had sex with a man and then called me and ranted."

"I was angry," Avery defended with a laugh. "I was angry and I lashed out but yes I called you and ranted after having sex with a man who made me realize I'm truly a lesbian and after that I haven't had sex with anyone until last night with you. It was tempting trust me but I had Cordelia and we got close," she revealed with a tiny little smile playing on her lips.

Not meaning to smile because she knew it would probably give away the fact that she had feelings for Cordelia. Which she didn't want to keep a secret from Paisley but then again maybe she did because hadn't she already revealed enough things to ruin whatever good moments they first had when waking up.

"You like Cordelia again huh?" Paisley asked her with a raised eyebrow and a hint of jealousy in her tone.

Avery blushed more as she nodded her head in response to that question. "Yeah. Was..well was thinking of maybe starting a relationship with her this week actually since she is arriving sometime today for my brother's show tonight."

"Well let's hope she accepts then," Paisley told her in an almost patronizing tone. "But until then just know I gave you a really good goddamn orgasm last night and I intend to give you a good one this morning too," she whispered and before Avery could object Paisley's lips were on hers again.

A moan coming out as she felt one of Paisley's hands slip in between her legs. Rubbing her softly until she got her wet which wasn't hard.

Not since Avery's body craved Paisley as much as Avery herself did. That and Paisley knew all the tricks to get Avery going. Had, had months to learn them before they had broken up.

Kissing Paisley a bit harder Avery let out a tiny whine when Paisley moved her hand away as she moved to get herself to where she was laying on top of Avery. Slowly pulling away from the kiss to give her a smirk.

"Oh stop whining," Paisley chided her with a tiny laugh. "Gonna give you more attention soon down there," she smirked before kissing Avery again and this time as they kissed Avery let her eyes fall shut.

Closing them tighter as Paisley's lips trailed down her neck where she nipped at the skin in a few places. Not hard enough to leave any marks but hard enough that Avery felt it. That it sent jolts down her body in a good way.

"Pai," Avery muttered out softly as Paisley's lips made it to Avery's chest where she slowly, teasingly worked her way down towards Avery's pussy. "Stop teasing me," she spoke up as she opened her eyes to look down into Paisley's blue ones.

Seeing nothing but mischievous glee in them and Avery just knew that she wouldn't stop teasing her. That she was getting a thrill out of it because she knew she was driving Avery crazy.

Avery wondering if this was her way to boost her ego some over her jealousy with Cordelia and the fact that Avery liked her and wanted to try a relationship with her.

Moaning again as Paisley continued her slow descent, letting her tongue lightly come out to lick at Avery's skin some Avery knew then she had her answer. Paisley wasn't going to stop teasing her, was going to make her wait and drag this out.

Though Avery wasn't going to deny that she didn't like the teasing even if it delayed what she really wanted which was the orgasm.

That really good happy ending that everyone loved.

"Oh fuck Pai," Avery grunted out when Paisley finally made it to between her thighs, leaving a tiny kiss on each one before reaching out with her hand to rub Avery again.

Her fingers slowly working their way inside of her as she fucked her with two of them. Not even giving Avery time to get used to just one. But after last night Avery was sure she hadn't needed the warm up anyway. Her vagina used to having fingers other than her own in it again.

"You want me to eat you baby?" Paisley asked using the term baby like it hadn't even been months since she had last called Avery that.

Like she was still allowed to call her that when she shouldn't have been but Avery didn't mind. Had missed the term of endearment from her.

Avery nodded her head, "Please," she whispered out as she looked down at Paisley feeling her slow her fingers down some.

"Please what?" Paisley questioned with a raised eyebrow. "Tell me what you want."

"Want you to eat me out Paisley," Avery told her as their eyes locked. "Please eat me out."

Paisley smirked at that letting her fingers move out of Avery as her lips soon connected with Avery's pussy. Avery's head falling back against the pillows as Paisley began to work that magic she did with her tongue.

Began to lick her in the ways she knew well that Avery liked. Let her fingers even go to open Avery up some so that she'd have better access to certain places.

All the while Avery's breathing getting harder as her hips began to lift every so often. Her orgasm building with each lick or each time Paisley's mouth went to her clit to suck on it softly though never staying for long because again she still wanted to tease Avery.

Delay Avery's orgasm a bit longer. Making her wait in slow, sweet, hell like torture.

But even with the teasing Avery's orgasm finally hit choosing the moment that the door to the guest bedroom opened. Avery moving her eyes towards the door right as Paisley's name fell from her lips to see Cordelia standing there in a stunned, angry like way only briefly.

Her reflexes hitting once she finally came to her senses and shutting the door as fast as she had opened it.

Paisley choosing then to move out from between Avery's thighs another smirk on her lips. Looking like she was proud of herself now.

"Just wanted you to know who the only person who can make you feel that good is," Paisley told her as she moved back over Avery to kiss her and Avery hated herself when she kissed Paisley back. "No man can ever make you feel that good and there is no way in hell that Cordy is going to make you feel that good either," she muttered in between kisses.

Avery getting the distinct feeling that Paisley didn't even feel guilty that Cordelia had caught them. Though Avery did some.

Hating that somehow during their sex Cordelia had finally shown up at Juniper's apartment and that the universe had allowed her to walk in on Paisley going down on Avery. Especially when the universe clearly knew that Avery wanted to move Cordelia out of the platonic friends status.

Though Avery didn't regret what she had just done with Paisley. Even if maybe she still was wary on Paisley having an open relationship with the girl in New York and even if she knew she'd have to grovel to get back into Cordelia's good graces.

Chapter Text

October 2008

"It's my fault," Juniper told Avery as she stood with her next to the merch booth in the venue where they were sitting things up for the night. A place where they'd also actually be too most of the night as they had offered to help sell merch for the show.

"How is it your fault?" Avery asked her keeping her voice low because the last thing she needed was one of the many roadies or even her brothers to come along and hear her having a conversation to Juniper about how Cordelia was upset and avoiding her most of the day after catching her with Paisley. "You weren't the one caught with their pants down literally."

Juniper chuckled softly at that but stopped when Avery shot her a glare, "No but well I mean I thought Pai was gone so I told her you were in the guest room. I didn't realize Pai was in there too and you guys were in the middle of having ex sex."

Avery blushed when Juniper mentioned ex sex, "I was weak okay," she sighed feeling like she had to defend herself. "I had a moment of weakness and now Cordelia's ignoring me and hiding god knows where and I should probably make it right with her but I don't even know where to begin."

"Just explain things as best as you can," Juniper told her with a sympathetic smile. "Cordelia knows you have a Paisley weakness maybe she'll understand."

"Maybe she will but she'll be less inclined to want to date me," Avery retorted knowing that even after the ex sex with Paisley she still wanted to give Cordelia a shot.

Mainly because she could trust her at least whereas she was still leery on trusting Paisley. Especially with Paisley now claiming she didn't cheat after confessing to doing just that months ago. It was just such a sudden change for what seemed like no reason.

No reason other than she probably just didn't want Avery angry at her but her going back on the truth semi did make Avery a bit angry even if she had, had sex with her twice in the last twenty-four hours.

"So you're still going to give Cordy a shot even after sex with Pai?" Juniper asked sounding a bit shocked.

"Sex doesn't mean we got back together Junie," Avery sighed with a roll of her eyes. "Like I said it just means I was weak."

Juniper shook her head as she looked away from Avery, "I swear Avie you really are a mess sometimes but obviously I love you or I wouldn't keep you around," she teased as she went back to fixing up the merch booth. "But if you want to make things right with Cordy I think she went to the bus with Isaac not too long ago."

"Isaac?" Avery asked feeling a bit confused because when did Isaac want to willingly spend time with her friends.

"He was telling her some long winded story," Juniper shrugged. "Hopefully he is done now so you can fix things with her."

"Hopefully," Avery spoke more to herself as she turned on her heel and headed out of the venue and out towards the buses.

Doing her best to avoid looking at the group of fans that had already gathered outside by them just to get any glimpse of her brothers that they could. Some probably being disappointed when they saw her because of course she wasn't the Hanson they wanted to see.

She was just their sister and what use was she to them? But then again she also knew there were some fans who didn't mind her presence. Who took pictures of her at events or whenever they could just because she was a sister of three boys who got famous.

Reaching for the bus key she had been given by Bex before departing the buses when they had arrived at the venue. Avery gave a tiny huff when it didn't accept the key right away.

"Figures," Avery muttered to herself remembering Bex also mentioning something about how the past few days the keys had been giving them trouble and to try a few times but if it still didn't work and she knew someone was on the bus then she could knock and be let in.

Trying it two more times with no luck either of those times Avery finally heaved a sigh as she knocked hoping that Cordelia or Isaac one were still on the bus. So she wouldn't look like an idiot in front of the fans.

Not having to wait that long Avery looked up as the door opened and she was greeted by Isaac.

"I take it you're looking for your friend?" he asked her with a small smile that showed his lazy eye well.

Avery nodded her head sheepishly, "Is she in here?"

"Left her in the back. Was just going to get off anyway and go inside to make a phone call to Nikki," Isaac told her before moving off the bus and after he left she quickly snuck inside.

Going down the narrow hallway until she reached the back of the bus where Cordelia was seated on the couch.

"Can we talk?" Avery asked softly when Cordelia turned to look at her. "I really hate this silent treatment you're giving me and I feel awful for what happened."

Cordelia laughed though it sounded strained, "You feel awful?! I'm the one who thought maybe I had a shot with you again and I was going to ask you about that tonight after the show but then I get that dream dashed when I walk in on Paisley going down on you," she spoke in one huff almost as she stood from where she had been sitting. "I feel like such an idiot Avery."

"But you're not an idiot," Avery told her as she felt tears welling up in her eyes some though she really didn't want to cry.

Not here in the back of her brother's tour bus.

"Oh then please tell me what I am then?" Cordelia asked with a shake of her head, some of her hair falling into her face and Avery couldn't help herself, she reached over and moved some away.

"You're a brilliant amazing girl," Avery told her with a sad sort of smile. "A girl who I have feelings for and who I want a shot with if you'll give me one?" she asked blinking some to hold back the tears though it was no use.

Some tears found their way down Avery's cheek anyway.

Cordelia just stared at Avery for several long seconds, "You're shitting me right?" she asked softly. "If you really have feelings for me and want a shot with me then why in the hell did I catch Paisley between your thighs this morning?"

"Things are just complicated again with her," Avery explained not wanting to get into the details of what Paisley had told her because she was sure where Cordelia would stand. Would tell her Paisley was just saying it to get back on Avery's good side and that it was working. "But I confessed to her that I like you and she just wanted...she wanted one more time of sex."

"No, what she was doing was her own version of telling me to think twice before I touched you," Cordelia muttered making Avery want to argue that they hadn't even known she was there but of course she thought better of it. "Just...I think I need time to deal with what I saw. Get over the jealousy I have towards that bitch again."

Avery cringed at Cordelia's words but she nodded her head, opening her mouth to say something but choosing not too when she heard the bus door open and the minute footsteps got closer Avery moved away from Cordelia faster than a bullet.

Turning to see her brother Zac standing there, all three of them just looking at each other as a tension grew when Zac gave them a suspicious look.

Like he could or was trying to figure out why they had parted so quickly. But neither of them were speaking to give it away and it seemed like Zac wasn't going to ask.

Though when Zac cleared his throat, a forced smile settling on his lips Avery feared that maybe she was wrong.

"You girls hungry?" he asked clearly deciding to ignore the awkwardness of what he walked in on and settling Avery's nerves. "I was going to walk over to this place called Luna's a few blocks from here. Vegan food. And you know nobody else on this tour is going to eat that stuff."

"I'm surprised you do," Avery told him with a weak smile. Because yeah she knew he hadn't been eating like he normally did lately but eating vegan was something Avery hadn't known him to do much of before especially willingly. "Are you sure you're my brother? Maybe you're an evil clone."

"Maybe," Zac agreed giving her a big grin. "But who says I'm the evil one?" he questioned which made both Avery and Cordelia laugh.

Whatever tension that had been built seemingly being broken at that.

Avery turned to look at Cordelia and they both nodded to each other, coming to an unspoken agreement.

"We'll go with you," Avery told Zac as she walked to where he was. "But first we're going to need to find Junie. Last I saw her was in the venue," she confessed smiling more easily when Zac agreed to help them locate Juniper.

The three of them leaving the bus together which this time there was some commotion amongst the fans when they saw Zac.

But her brother did what he had somehow grown accustomed too and ignored them as they headed inside to find Juniper.

Locating her fairly quickly as some roadie had her in his sights, trying his best to flirt with her as she did her best to act interested though she wasn't and once they had her all four of them left to head down the street.

An awkward silence falling over them though Avery oddly felt okay with it. Almost wanted it even if it gave her time to worry about what decision Cordelia would make as she processed her jealousy over Paisley and what she had saw this morning.

The silence though seemed to end when they made it to the restaurant and were seated. Avery and her friends beginning to talk amongst themselves after Zac had offered to pay for them.

Something she was almost thankful for herself because the prices here weren't cheap at all.

When the waitress came to take their orders all three of them ordered first, Zac going last and Avery raised an eyebrow as she listened to him.

"Just the arugula salad and a lemonade thanks," Zac spoke as he handed the menu back to the woman.

"That's all?" Avery asked feeling perplexed at just how little he had ordered. "What happened to my brother the bottomless pit?" she questioned not even sure why today she was questioning him on his eating.

She had ignored it for so long these past few months but maybe it was just the stress on herself. Making her want to place it somewhere else.

Zac shrugged his shoulders, "It's a big salad. But I don't wanna stuff myself before soundcheck, otherwise, I'll just fall asleep at my drums," he explained.

An explanation that made Avery as well as her friends laugh. Avery deciding then to drop the subject. Turning to look at Cordelia and Juniper as they got started talking about their different college courses they were taking. Avery feeling a bit envious because she still hadn't really decided yet where she'd go to college or what she'd study.

Just knowing that she had the itch to go to college though and maybe make something of herself. Be something more than Hanson's little sister or her parents good child.

Avery coming out of her thoughts when Juniper mentioned a political rally on her campus, Avery raising her hand to wave it at Juniper to shush her. "Let's not start talking politics," she told her before eyeing Zac playfully. "Don't wanna upset the conservative over here."

"Who me?" Zac asked as he eyed her back. "Conservative?"

"You are observing a religious fast day," Juniper pointed out as she shrugged her shoulders. "I mean no offense but you're not eating vegetarian for ethical reasons or anything."

"I like routine," Zac spoke up sounding honest in his words. "I like the church and I assume Avery does too or she wouldn't keep coming back to it," he added on his words making Avery look away from him with a small sigh.

Because of course he'd bring up the fact that she occasionally had gone to the Orthodox church on more than one occasion but that was before...before she knew she was a lesbian and before her mom had told her that she'd be a failure to God if she was.

"Doesn't mean I'm that conservative though," Zac defended himself. "I like to keep an open mind even if I don't agree with everything I see and hear."

Avery rolled her eyes quickly, "Sure you do," she told him as she reached across the table to pat his arm. Hoping that deep down he knew she didn't mean anything by her words.

Sometimes it was just too easy to tease him though.

Zac stayed silent for a bit after that at least until Cordelia and Juniper had went to the bathroom. Then he broke his silence.

"So," Zac began as he sat his fork down, propping his elbows on the table. "How are things in Avery Land."

Avery shrugged her first instinct was to just tell him complicated but she knew better than that. "Just enjoying the time to travel and not worry about what I'm going to do next," she told him instead figuring it was the safer bet.

"Must be nice," Zac replied as he nodded. "I mean, the not worrying. I know how great the traveling can be. Helps you figure out who you really are doesn't it?"

Avery gave a small sigh at that because yeah it had indeed helped her. New York especially when she was with Ethan. "Yeah...yeah I guess you could say that."

"You sure everything's alright?" Zac questioned again almost like he didn't believe things were. But Avery just fell silent as she did her best to look away from him.

Not ready to confess all her troubles to Zac because how could she? She wasn't even out to him yet for fucks sake.

"Never mind," Zac spoke in her silence as he waved his hand dismissively. "I know you. If something's wrong, you'll make sure everybody knows. And you'll make sure that big brother Zac fixes it for you, I'm sure."

Avery laughed softly even if it was more of a sad one, "Just as long as you do the same if something's wrong with you," she told him even if she suspected neither of them could truly fix the other's issues.

"I will," Zac replied but there was a hitch that let Avery know he probably wouldn't which was fine enough with her.

"Then we've got a deal," Avery told him right before Cordelia and Juniper came back from the bathroom. The conversation they were having being put to an end.

After lunch was over and Avery was walking back to the venue with her friends Avery maybe purposefully chose to walk by Zac. Letting Juniper and Cordelia lead the way because maybe she was hoping she and Zac could talk again.

Something she was afraid to start but knew she was going to have too when Zac nudged her, obviously having sensed that she wanted to talk.

"Hey, Zac," Avery spoke softly not wanting her friends up front to hear. “What if, after all this traveling, I don’t figure out who I am at all?" she questioned honestly as she turned to look at him.

“Who says you have to? You’re young; there’s plenty of time," Zac told her which almost made her want to laugh.

"That's rich coming from you," Avery told him. "I mean you've known who you were since you were like nine."

"Not really," Zac told her his voice going soft as he shoved his hands into his pockets. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love being a musician. That’s who I am. A drummer. A singer. A songwriter. But I’m not a celebrity, and that was never what I wanted. But… sometimes you gotta deal with stuff you don’t like to get what you do, I guess. And anyway, in the beginning, I was just along for the ride. It took me a while to really understand it all. And maybe I still don’t. So don’t feel like there’s some timeline, like you have to know who you are and what you wanna be by any certain age. It’s not a race.”

"I guess not," Avery muttered not sure if she believed him. Because a few months back she could have swore she had everything figured out.

Known that her life was going to be with Paisley and she was content with that but now well she wasn't sure. Almost afraid that maybe even if she knew she was a lesbian that she was just settling for Cordelia if she got the chance she wanted.

“And what if you figure out who you are… but you’re not sure you like yourself very much?” Avery continued as she turned to look at him curiously.

A part of her not sure even now that she liked it if she would be settling for Cordelia but then again maybe she was just overthinking things.

Zac sighed heavily at that, “That one… that one, I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for. I wish I did.”

Avery went silent again knowing she didn't have an answer either. Wishing she would have but instead she figured she'd just go with whatever felt right in her gut.

If Cordelia gave her a chance then she'd take it and hope she wasn't just settling. Hoped that Juniper was wrong last night when she told her she was afraid they wouldn't work because Avery didn't like the safe choices when it came to people.

Later that night long after the concert was done and Avery and her friends were back at Juniper's place. Avery who was getting her pajamas to change into after she showered turned when she heard a knock on the guest room door.

Feeling like the world paused when she saw Cordelia standing at the door. Because of course it would be her. Paisley had left for New York sometime while the girls had been gone to the show.

"So I came to a decision...more like an epiphany hit me during your brother's cover of Soulshine," Cordelia began as she came into the room where Avery was. "I think I'd be crazy not to try something with you. I've wanted you for years probably even before I really knew I liked girls because all I knew before that was I really liked you," she smiled softly as she sat on the edge of the bed. "So I'll give you a chance if you still want it."

Avery swallowed a lump at Cordelia's words, springing from where she was bent down and rushing to Cordelia to envelope her in a hug.

"Of course I want it still," Avery spoke as they both fell back against the bed. "I want to try being yours and just yours," she smiled softly watching as Cordelia did the same.

"Good," Cordelia whispered and before Avery could say anything more Cordelia leaned in to kiss her on the lips.

The kiss feeling so foreign and new to Avery. Somehow never figuring that one day she'd actually have bumped Cordelia from her friend to her girlfriend but here she was.

Yet even as they kissed Avery still had a doubt about everything and if this was what she truly wanted or if she had just convinced herself it was.

Chapter Text

November 2008

Sitting in a coffee shop in downtown Tulsa, Avery who was working on her laptop which meant just checking emails in between getting birthday texts looked up when she heard someone sit down in front of her. A smile on her face when she came face to face with Ethan.

The boy who ever since New York she had kept in contact with and had invited him out to Tulsa for her birthday. Which usually was a much bigger event but since her girlfriend and her best friend now lived in different states it was much smaller this year.

Her mom planning to throw a bit of a get together with family members tonight, which was why Avery invited Ethan so that she'd at least have one friend there. Someone who she could have fun and spend time with.

Not that she didn't have that with family but since being back in Tulsa after traveling her family could get boring and maybe a bit suffocating especially her mom who for some reason kept trying to set her up with every single boy she knew from her church.

A fact that Avery was getting tired of and knew she could just end if she came out. Something Cordelia was trying to pressure her to do but again Avery didn't feel ready. Didn't feel like it was right and she almost wished Cordelia wouldn't pressure her but she was afraid to tell her that.

Not wanting to argue not even a month into their relationship.

"You actually came," Avery spoke as she reached for her coffee to take a drink. "I was a bit scared you wouldn't come."

Ethan smiled as he locked eyes with Avery, "Oh Ave I don't know why you doubted me. Of course I'd come so that I could meet the family of the girl who intrigues me."

"I'm not that intriguing," Avery told him as she sat her coffee cup down on the table. "Kind of boring really."

"Maybe boring to yourself but not to me," Ethan told her sounding honest. "I mean who sleeps with strangers after first meeting them besides me and you?"

Avery laughed at that as she looked back at her emails briefly, seeing an email from Cordelia with pictures attached and she knew it was probably her sending pictures from their time in Charlotte last month.

She had mentioned on the phone last night that she got the pictures developed and that she'd scan them and send them whenever she got time between her busy hectic college life.

"Well a lot of people do because one night stands exist for a reason there E," Avery retorted as she looked back at him. "But you weren't my first stranger I slept with. That's how I met my ex actually. I slept with her the first day we met and she stayed in my life after that because we continued sleeping together."

"The one I remind you of?" Ethan questioned but to Avery it sounded more like a statement.

"The one you remind me of," Avery confirmed with a sad looking smile.

Not even sure why she was sad at the mention of Paisley. After all she had been the one to bring her up and she was sure she was healing.

She had started dating Cordelia and despite her initial doubts she felt happy with Cordelia even if they hadn't really spent much time in the same state since the brief few days they shared in Charlotte after making it official.

Hell they hadn't even had sex with each other yet. But Avery wasn't complaining, knowing they'd get there eventually when they were both ready and in the same state for longer than three days.

"Can I see her?" Ethan questioned and his words made Avery furrow her brow.


"Your ex," Ethan spoke more slowly as if he thought Avery was stupid. "I want to see pictures of her. See what the girl you love looks like."

Avery shook her head in protest at that, "She isn't the girl I love anymore," she told him though even to her own ears her words sounded like a lie. "I'm dating someone else now and anyway I got rid of all my pictures of my ex," she explained because she had indeed deleted all the pictures of Paisley off of any of her devices.

Though not before printing them out and filing them away in the shoebox that held all of her Paisley memories. A shoebox that she just couldn't part with.

No matter how much the memories inside of them hurt her.

Ethan let out a chuckle at that, "Then show me her social media profiles," he spoke like he just suspected that Avery still had her added which maybe she did even after everything.

Just hadn't found the courage to unfriend her even after knowing she had cheated and Paisley obviously hadn't unfriended her either.

"How do you know I have her added?" Avery questioned him though she typed in the familiar myspace url. Paisley's page loading automatically.

"Because you light up whenever you talk about her and that kind of love is hard to cut off all ties," Ethan told her as if he was speaking from experience and maybe he was. "Now show me her social media profiles," he said again this time more demanding.

But the smile on his face let her know he was only teasing her.

"Fine," Avery heaved a sigh as she beckoned Ethan to move his chair closer and once he had she clicked to go to Paisley's pictures.

Opening the folder for new pictures. Pictures Paisley had taken of herself since she had moved to New York last month.

Pictures that made Avery sad just a bit because there seemed to be some sort of small spark missing in her eyes. Avery wondering just how happy she truly was in New York but also knowing she probably shouldn't care.

After all Paisley wasn't hers anymore. She had Cordelia and Cordelia should be the person she cared about being truly happy.

"I guess I can see why I remind you of her," Ethan told her as he looked at Avery with a curious little smirk. "And her profile said she lives in New York now?" he asked sounding like he had plans already to somehow track Paisley down.

Something she could see him doing and succeeding in doing it because he was that weird and mysterious.

"Yeah but I don't know where in New York," Avery told him as she paused on Paisley's newest picture that she had added at some point today.

A picture of her proudly showing off her left hand, a tattoo inked on her ring finger. The finger one would wear a wedding band on.

Avery's hand automatically reaching for her necklace with the easel and paintbrush pendants on it. Swallowing hard as she came to the realization that the tattoo was an exact match for the easel pendent that she wore around her neck.

The tattoo being on her ring finger and the fact that it was uploaded on Avery's birthday of all days. Well maybe it unsettled Avery some.

Avery not being sure if it was a good unsettled or a bad unsettled. Just that she was unsettled by it.

Ethan must have sensed the tension Avery had because soon he chose to speak, "That's a pretty huge statement," he told her and Avery tore her eyes away from the picture to see that Ethan too was looking down at her necklace. "Getting that easel tattooed on her wedding ring finger."

"She probably just liked the way it looked," Avery told him not even revealing that the necklace she wore had been a gift from Paisley. "I doubt it's connected to me."

Ethan remained silent at that, looking at Avery as if she were stupid and maybe she was. That or in denial because there was no way it could be connected to her.

Had to just be a coincidence or something because those still happened in the universe.

"You tell yourself that Ave," Ethan finally spoke as he shook his head. "But I know what my gut is telling me."

Avery rolled her eyes as she reached for her coffee which had now gone cold. Taking a drink despite that because she needed more time to find the words she wanted to say.

"And your gut is wrong," Avery muttered to him with a shake of her head as she quickly left Paisley's myspace. Closing the tabs on her laptop before shutting it down. "Now come on, let's head to my place. Though fair warning my family can be a bit much at times."

Ethan chuckled at that as he stood from his chair, "I can handle crazy families. My ex-boyfriend had a hectic family too," he told her which made her pause.

Avery wondering if it was the same ex-boyfriend who he had mentioned being a fan of her brother's band.

Laying next to Paisley hours after they had landed in Paris. Avery giggled still slightly tipsy from the wine they had drank from a bottle that Paisley had bought not long after they had landed.

Almost surprised that she was still tipsy because it had been a few hours and she and Paisley had even made love after.

"I dream about our future you know," she confessed softly before she could even stop herself. Like her mouth and her brain just weren't working together right now. One going without the other's consent.

Paisley turned her head as she looked at Avery, her eyebrows having risen some, "Like actual dreams?"

"No," Avery clarified with a shake of her head. "Like daydreams. Sometimes I'll just randomly imagine what it would be like doing life with you," she smiled feeling almost content at just uttering those words. "How we could spend forever together and maybe have a family one day. With kids and pets or just kids or just pets. But we'd be together forever."

"Forever is a long time for someone who's seventeen," Paisley spoke with a shake of her own head. "You're young and don't know know what you want yet."

Avery sighed softly as she rested her head against Paisley's chest some, "Maybe I am young," she agreed giving Paisley that. "But I want a future with you," she sighed softly knowing that she did want the future she daydreamed about. "Even if they never make gay marriage legal I want to be your life partner some day and raise a little family with you. Have a life where we are content and happy and free."

"Do we have to get rings?" Paisley asked like she didn't like the idea of rings. "I think rings are just dumb and useless and I want something more permanent to show the world I'm stuck with you for life."

Laughing at that Avery left a light kiss above Paisley's breast, "Something more permanent to show you're stuck with me for life huh? Like a tattoo maybe?" she asked her because the idea of Paisley getting a tattoo to show the world that was kind of thrilling.

"Yeah, something much more than the moon tattoo on my wrist. I'll get a tattoo on my ring finger, show the world and your mom just how much you mean to me with a tattoo for life," Paisley added on almost like she was getting lost in the dreams of their future too. "You can get one as well or you can just wear a ring if you want."

"I'll wear a ring but get a tattoo in a place no one but you can see," Avery whispered before kissing above Paisley's breast again and this time it earned her a moan from her girlfriend.

"So you'll get a tattoo on your pussy?" Paisley asked through a delighted giggle which made Avery blush, knowing that of course Paisley's mind would have went to the gutter.

"No, not my pussy," Avery told her as she shook her head playfully. "But maybe on my hip bone where you'll be the only one who sees it half the time," she smiled watching as Paisley grinned too like she was imagining Avery with a tattoo on her hip bone in the future.

A tattoo that proved their commitment to each other.

"You know," Paisley sighed as she pulled Avery closer to her. "I think I could fall in love with the idea of a future with you. You and me and a maybe family. Our own little place to just be us."

Avery who had snuck away outside to sit by the pool after cake and ice cream, came out of her thoughts when she heard her phone ringing. Almost expecting to see Ethan's name on the id calling her inside to ask for help because she had left him alone with her family.

A family who had seemed to like him or her mom did anyway. Looked like she almost expected Ethan to be her son in law one day.

Zoe too seemed to like Ethan and if Avery wasn't crazy she thought maybe her ten year old sister may have had a slight crush on the boy.

Which wouldn't shock Avery as Ethan wasn't bad looking.

But when she looked at the id she was greeted with the name of her girlfriend and she answered it, holding the phone to her ear.

"Cordy," Avery smiled though it was forced. "Was beginning to think my own girlfriend had forgotten my birthday."

Cordelia let out a laugh, "Didn't forget just had a hectic day of classes this afternoon then I went out for drinks with some girls in my last class of the day."

"Oh I see how it is, leaving your girlfriend hanging for your platonic gal pals," Avery teased her with a shake of her head. "No girlfriend of the year awards for you Cordy."

"Haha funny Avie. But if you want I'll make it up to you when I'm in town for Thanksgiving."

"And just how do you plan to do that Cordelia Marie?"

"Well I was thinking we could have sex," Cordelia suggested her words making Avery blush. "I could make it up to you with sex."

"Sex sounds like a deal," Avery smirked and after that she and Cordelia talked a bit longer before Cordelia mentioned having to go because she had an early class tomorrow and she wanted to get some rest before having to wake up early.

Avery bidding her goodbye and after she hung up she stood from the seat she was sitting in, nearly jumping when she saw Ethan behind her.

"How long were you there?" Avery asked him curiously with a raised eyebrow.

"Long enough to know that was your girlfriend on the phone," Ethan answered. "A girl who you don't seem to glow when you speak to her. Not like you do when talking about your ex."

Narrowing her eyes playfully Avery sighed, "I think you've overstayed your welcome E," she muttered as she walked to where he was. "Time to say goodbye to my family and get out of the house."

"Yeah, yeah," Ethan smirked as he walked with her back inside. "We still going to go to that tattoo parlor tomorrow?" he asked her bringing up a suggestion she had made to him in private before slipping outside.

That she wanted to go and get a tattoo tomorrow and she wanted him to come with her. As moral support or something like that.

Avery nodded her head as she gave him a smile, "Yeah," she told him as they made it to the back door in the kitchen.

Though before they could head inside her phone rang again and Avery looked down at it, hearing Ethan tell her he'd just see himself out.

Avery not protesting as she moved to answer the phone much faster than she had when her own girlfriend had called.

Though after she answered the phone and held it to her ear she stayed silent. Minus her breathing of course.

"I know you're there Hanson," Paisley's voice slurred letting Avery know she was drunk. "Just...I'm just calling to say happy birthday and I hope it's nice being a legal adult now."

"It's not so bad Chambers," Avery finally spoke smiling sadly. "Thanks for calling though," she told her honestly because maybe she had been hoping all day that Paisley would call.

"Had to have some liquid courage to do it," Paisley muttered out confirming what Avery knew. That she was drunk.

Avery laughed at that but just like her smile it was sad, "You don't need to be drunk to call me Pai."

"I do when I know you have a girlfriend and a part of me.." she started but stopped leaving Avery wondering what she was going to say.

"When a part of you what?" Avery asked chewing on her lip.

"Nothing. Just I'm going to go now," Paisley mumbled as she hung up before Avery could protest otherwise.

Hating that she wanted just a bit longer to listen to Paisley talk.

"Goodbye Chambers," Avery whispered to herself as she turned her phone off and went inside.

Knowing she too needed to try to sleep or at least lay down in bed before going out and getting a tattoo tomorrow.

Chapter Text

November 2008

Standing in the bathroom, Avery kept her pajama pants pulled down slightly as she eyed the tattoo she had gotten days ago. A tiny little camera on her hip bone and one that she could easily hide from everyone, except of course Cordelia would see it eventually when they had sex.

But for now it was even still a secret from her girlfriend, Avery feeling like she couldn't tell Cordelia just yet. Knowing where her mind would go.

Who it would go too and of course maybe she had every reason for that to happen. A camera was such a Paisley thing since it was photographs she was into but well Avery could lie.

Not tell Cordelia about the words she had once muttered to Paisley in Paris. That she'd get a tattoo on her hip bone as a symbol of showing their commitment for Paisley just to see, while she wore a ring openly on her finger for everyone else to see.

Whereas Paisley had mentioned getting a tattoo on her ring finger, something she had apparently done. Which maybe it was why Avery went ahead and got hers.

Even if she knew deep down she'd never get back with Paisley. They were done and in each other's past though it seemed both of them had some trouble in letting go of each other for good.

Like how they had, had sex in Charlotte or how Paisley had called her on her birthday. It was like neither were ready to say goodbye for real.

Avery knowing she needed too though for Cordelia's sake. If she wanted the relationship with Cordelia to work that was and god did she want it to work.

Needed it to work because she did like Cordelia....could see herself loving her one day. Hating that she knew if Cordelia muttered those words to her right now there was no way Avery could say them back truthfully.

Not when she wasn't in love with Cordelia just yet. She was just still in the liking stage. Liking her for making her feel better, for making her forget whenever they were together that there was a Paisley sized hole in her life. Liked that she had helped her cope with the break up.

But there was no love yet. No home feeling that Paisley had given her but well Avery figured it could just be because they were never in the same state often.

Cordelia being in California while Avery was stuck here in Tulsa.

Pulling her pants up slight Avery shook her head as she drug herself out of her own mind. Finishing her bedtime routine before turning to leave the bathroom.

Though on her way out she nearly collided with Jessica who must have just gotten in from being at Joe's house for dinner.

"Jessie?" Avery questioned with a raised eyebrow as she looked at her sister. "Is everything okay?"

Jessica shook her head no as she eyed Avery, "Things went to shit at Joe's tonight," she told Avery softly. Avery knowing it had to be serious business because her sister usually never cursed ever.

"Went to shit how?" Avery asked hoping and praying that Jessica and Joe hadn't broken up.

Not when they seemed to mesh so well together but well this season didn't seem to be a good one for her family so a breakup wouldn't have shocked her really in the end.

"Jeremy came out as gay and his family interrupted into a mess of arguments," Jessica explained Avery doing her best not to give away the fact that she knew this news. That she had known for ages. "So I just sort of left because I wanted to avoid the drama."

"Oh," Avery muttered out softly. "And what did you think of him coming out as gay?" she asked curiously not wanting to seem obvious that maybe she wanted to know for her own reasons.

"I was surprised I mean he dated you for several months," Jessica answered with a shake of her head. "But in the long run it's him that is making a mistake."

Avery raised her eyebrows at Jessica's words, "A mistake?" she asked softly not sure what Jessica even meant by that because how could their be a mistake in being gay? You couldn't help who you loved. Love was love regardless of gender.

"It's a sin Avie," Jessica muttered as if Avery was clearly stupid. "We've all had it preached to us for years. But it's his mistake and he's the one who's going to have to live with the consequences."

Avery went silent for a bit, swallowing a lump in her throat as she looked away from her sister. Almost afraid of what Jessica would say if she knew the younger sister she loved dearly was also gay. Had loved a girl and was now dating another girl.

"Right," Avery whispered out hoping Jessica didn't hear the catch in her voice. "It's a sin but only according to people who go to church," she added on. "You and I aren't the biggest church goers in the family."

Jessica laughed at that, "Maybe not but I believe what I was taught. When has anything ever been wrong?" she questioned with a tilt of her head.

Avery again went silent deciding to just play along for now, "Yeah, I guess you have a point," she nodded her head with a tiny smile before moving to head to her bedroom.

Making it to her bedroom she reached for her cell phone and quickly dialed Jeremy's number. Not sure if he'd answer or if his family was still arguing.

But after the fourth ring Jeremy's choked out voice offered a hello which made Avery frown softly. Hating how devastated he sounded.

"Hey," Avery spoke softly. "I heard from Jessie what happened," she told him as she laid back on her bed some. "Figured you might want to hear from a friend or something."

Jeremy laughed though it sounded strained, "Yeah I came out and it didn't go well," he muttered with a heavy sounding sigh. "They want me to go to counseling."

"Counseling? For what?" Avery asked sounding shocked by that. "You aren't messed up Jer."

"According to them I am. Something has to be wrong in my brain to make me gay."

Frowning more at that, Avery looked up at her ceiling, "So are you going to tell them to shove their opinions and go to hell?" she asked which made both her and Jeremy laugh, his laugh sounding a bit happier but not by much.

"I wish it were as simple as that. If I don't go to counseling they are going to kick me out and I'm not eighteen yet. I have nowhere else to go."

"So you're going to go to counseling then?" Avery questioned feeling like that was such an insane idea.

"I don't have much of a choice Avery," Jeremy told her sounding a bit angry and the last thing she wanted was him upset with her. "It's either that or being kicked out of my home."

"And Tyler is okay with this?"

"I also had to break up with him," Jeremy confessed his anger dissipating into something else like sadness. "Again I had no choice," he added on like he knew Avery would have said something and yeah she would have. "I know you're probably not happy with that decision but put yourself in my shoes Avie. What's going to happen whenever you come out and your family does the same?"

Going silent Avery kept staring at her ceiling, "Yeah well hopefully even though about half my family think being gay is a sin that they aren't heartless enough to kick me out. I mean my mom loves all her children," she told him knowing that she thought her mom loved them.

Even if sometimes it felt her love came with I'll love you but type of thing.

"I hope for your sake they don't," Jeremy told her with a sigh again. "I have to go though. I'm not even supposed to be on the phone. Not without one of my parents in the room anyway."

At that Avery had to bite her tongue. Wanting to retort with where his parents afraid someone would corrupt him even more on the phone.

Instead though she offered him a goodbye before hanging up and after she hung up she moved to put her cellphone on the bedside table before closing her eyes and drifting off.

Waking in a sweat Avery sat up in bed, her breathing hard as she looked around her. Realizing that she was in her room and not in the dream she had been having.

A dream in which she had came out to her family and it had went badly. All of them rejecting her and leaving Avery broken. Broken and feeling like a small child.

Enough that it had shaken her even in her waking state was she shaken. The dream making her feel like that could actually happen. That whenever she chose to come out her family would reject her and send her packing because they'd never understand.

They'd never know how right it felt being in love even if that person you loved was the same sex as you. They'd never get that how no matter who you loved that it felt the same.

That Avery got the same feelings for girls that all her brothers got with their wives or that Jessica got with Joe. That being with Paisley was like coming home for her. A feeling she still hoped to have with Cordelia one day.

Which at the thought of Cordelia she reached over for her phone and turned it on. Finding her girlfriend's name and sending her a text.

I can't do it...I know you want me to come out to my family but I can't do it. Jer did it last night and it went horribly and I'm terrified it will be the same if I do.

After hitting send Avery moved to put her phone away but stopped when she got a response from Cordelia before she could.

Your parents may surprise you Ave. I mean you told me your mom was fine with Junie and I after she knew for sure we were gay.

Yeah but that's because she considered you two safe. Apparently I looked at you the way I do my sisters. It was Paisley she hated because she saw something non platonic there.

So I'm just a sister to you?

Reading Cordelia's text back Avery rolled her eyes feeling like her best friend had missed the point entirely of her text.

Not anymore but you were then. Thanks for missing the entire point of my text though which is my mom won't accept this and I don't wanna be disowned.

Pftt whatevs Ave. I'm sure if this was Paisley you'd come out for her. Show everyone you loved her. I mean you sure as hell had no issue hiding it around Juniper and I...yet somehow after we became official in Charlotte you wouldn't even hold my hand in public and now you don't even want to come out of the closet fully to your family for me. Show them you love me and are proud of me.

Rolling her eyes again Avery shook her head.

That's not true but I refuse to argue about this over text messages Cordelia Marie.

Fine Avery Laurel. We'll just argue about it in person when I'm in T-Town for Thanksgiving.

After that message Avery shook her head and turned her phone off before laying back down in bed again. The conversation with Cordelia doing nothing to ease her worried mind.

Especially when maybe she had been right about Paisley without even knowing that Avery had, had plans to come out while dating her.

But then things went south and Avery lost her rock and her nerve. A nerve she still hadn't gotten back.

Chapter Text

November 2008

Sitting awkwardly on Cordelia's bed the night before Thanksgiving Avery looked over at her girlfriend with a raised eyebrow because ever since she had came over tonight things had been weird. Leaving Avery feeling like Cordelia had meant it weeks ago in her text when she said they'd continue their fight when she was back home.

Something Avery had hoped she had been joking about but of course Avery couldn't get so lucky. The world hating her too much for that this year.

"Are we really going to argue?" Avery asked finally breaking the silence that had gathered between them after the French indie film they had been watching ended.

Cordelia avoided Avery's gaze as she shook her head, "No," she frowned as she moved to brush some hair behind her own ear. "I know I was being stupid in those texts," she whispered softly still not meeting Avery's gaze. "But I was drunk and maybe I had just saw the new tattoo on Paisley's finger," she admitted as she looked back up.

Avery not missing it when Cordelia's eyes landed on her necklace. "It reminded me she still loves you and I just felt like I'm never going to measure up to the first girl you fell in love with."

"You don't have to measure up to her," Avery told Cordelia as she moved a bit closer. "How I feel for you and how I feel for her is two completely different things and they always will be. You never love two people the same Cordy. I mean I'm sure you don't love me the way you loved Jane."

"Of course I don't because I never truly loved Jane," Cordelia admitted looking almost guilty. "I just used her to forget that I still loved you."

Avery blushed at that admission though it was something she had suspected for ages.

"But you truly loved Paisley," Cordelia told her in the silence she had let continue. "I'm just afraid that she'll want you back one day and you'll go running back because you love her."

Avery looked away from Cordelia now, her hands reaching to mess with the blanket on Cordelia's bed. "She cheated on me," she stated not having told Cordelia at all about Paisley denying it. "I'm not dumb enough to go back to someone who has cheated on me."

"Yet you are dumb enough to have sex with her again," Cordelia reminded her, bringing up the incident in Charlotte.

Something Avery figured would always be stuck in Cordelia's head forever. Not that Avery could blame her because she still couldn't forget the day she found Ellery at Paisley's.

Which was why she was still so leery in believing that Paisley was telling the truth when she said she didn't cheat.

"It was a minor setback," Avery defended as she chewed on her lip her blush growing some.

"So if I asked you to get rid of the necklace you would," Cordelia spoke as she locked eyes with Avery.

Avery feeling like that was exactly what Cordelia was asking her to do right now. Something she wasn't sure she could do just yet.

"Not today," Avery admitted softly as she broke eye contact, her hand going to grab onto the pendants like they were her lifeline. "I couldn't get rid of it today but maybe someday."

Cordelia let out a small bittersweet chuckle, "Someday may never come," she muttered out like she believed the necklace would always stay on Avery's neck.

"Or it could come tomorrow," Avery replied which made Cordelia look at her in an unbelieving way.

Avery heaving a sigh because even though they weren't supposed to be arguing this felt a lot like arguing to her and she didn't like it.

Not one tiny bit.

So instead of giving Cordelia a chance to say anything else, Avery leaned in and kissed her softly on the lips. One of her hands going to rest on Cordelia's cheek.

A small smile appearing on her lips when Cordelia kissed her back. Her eyes fluttering shut as Cordelia pushed her back on the bed. One of Cordelia's hands slowly finding it's way up and under Avery's shirt which made Avery pull away softly to look up at Cordelia.

"Are we going to do this?" Avery asked her with a raised eyebrow.

Cordelia smirked some as she looked down at Avery, "I told you on the phone we'd have sex. What better way to have it then after an almost argument?" she asked as her smirk grew.

Soon leaning down to kiss Avery again and Avery felt her eyes flutter shut once more. Letting herself get lost in the kiss.

Tiny moans coming out every so often as Cordelia's hand explored under her shirt. One hand finally resting against Avery's breast as she felt her up through her bra.

Avery surprised that she was even getting turned on by something so innocent.

Pulling away from the kiss again Avery lifted her shirt off, blushing when Cordelia's eyes roamed her chest. Even if Cordelia had seen her in various states of undress a million times before.

This was just different mainly because they weren't just casually undressing in front of each other as friends. They were actually going to have sex with each other.

"Like what you see?" Avery asked her as their eyes locked again.

"Very much so," Cordelia told her before leaning in to kiss her again. Her lips not staying on Avery's for long though as she kissed her way down to Avery's neck.

Avery tilting her head slightly. Wishing that she had just the same burning sensation she had every time Paisley had used to touch her like this. If she did maybe it'd be a bit easier to fall into the sex. To enjoy herself more.

Not to say she wasn't enjoying this because she was, especially when Cordelia left little nips on the skin of her neck but it wasn't as good as Avery knew it could be for her. Wasn't as good as she hoped her first time with Cordelia could be.

But she wasn't about to stop this and say anything. Afraid that if she did they'd just end up in an argument again. Avery not wanting that especially the night before their first official holiday as a couple.

Even though they weren't going to get to spend tomorrow together. Cordelia's family leaving early in the morning to head to Oklahoma City to see family they had there.

Opening her eyes as she let out a louder moan after Cordelia had pushed the cup of her bra down. Her lips attaching to Avery's nipple all Avery could do then was let out loud moans.

Hoping against hope that neither of Cordelia's parents were awake and could hear them. Not sure how she'd be able to face them if she knew they had heard her and Cordelia having sex.

After all she had known Andrea and Jim for years and they were almost like second parents to her. There was no way she wanted them to hear her having sex. Like she never wanted her parents to hear her either for a lot of reasons.

Almost hoping that her parents somehow believed she was a virgin. Though she was far from being a virgin now which was hard to believe as she had never saw herself losing her virginity this year when it had started.

"Fuck Cordy," Avery muttered out finally when Cordelia moved her mouth off her nipple. Pushing the other bra cup down to do the same to her other nipple.

But before she did she looked at Avery, giving her a wink. Making Avery roll her eyes playfully because it would just be like Cordelia to get an ego boost from knowing she was making Avery feel good.

Especially after an argument over her jealousy with Paisley.

Keeping her eyes opened Avery chewed on her lip to keep from moaning any louder as Cordelia gave her other nipple the same amount of attention she had given the first.

A whine building up in Avery's throat as Cordelia moved her mouth away, continuing kissing down Avery's body. Only coming to a stop when she reached Avery's jeans, pulling away from her to undo them in a hurry.

Pushing them down off of Avery once she had them undone as well as pushing Avery's panties off along with her jeans.

But the moment that she was laying there in nothing but a bra which was pulled down past her breasts Avery froze when she saw Cordelia's eyes land on the camera tattoo that was on her hip bone. Watching as Cordelia's face changed from someone who looked happy to someone who was piecing together puzzle pieces in her head.

"Cordy..." Avery started as she sat up reaching out for Cordelia but frowning when she moved away from her touch.

"That's new," Cordelia stated as she shook her head. "I know you didn't get that when you got your sun tattoo."

Avery nodded her head, "It is new," she confirmed as she watched Cordelia move even farther away from her. Looking like she had been slapped or something.

"When did you get it?" Cordelia asked nothing in her voice coming out like she was happy at all.

"The day after my birthday," Avery answered as she ran a hand through her hair. "It's just a stupid tattoo Cordy."

Cordelia laughed at that as she shook her head, "No, if it was a stupid tattoo you would have told me the day you got it or something. I wouldn't be seeing it the first time we were going to have sex with each other," she muttered out her use of going to letting Avery know that the mood had changed.

There would be no sex tonight between her and Cordelia and the argument she wanted to avoid the night before Thanksgiving was going to happen anyway.

"I was scared to show you," Avery admitted her voice all soft sounding. "I knew how you'd react and what you'd think."

"You knew I'd think it was for your ex," Cordelia told her pointedly. "Maybe because it is for your ex. I mean why else would you even know my mind would go there seeing a camera tattooed on your hip bone."

"But it's not for her," Avery defended hoping her voice came out more convinced than what she herself felt. "Like I said it's just a stupid tattoo."

Cordelia shook her head as she finally moved off the bed, "Keep telling yourself that lie and maybe you'll believe it but I won't. Now just get dressed and leave because I just...I want to be alone."

Avery frowned but she didn't argue with Cordelia. Instead she stood from the bed. Fixing her bra before putting on the rest of her clothes.

Leaving the room in silence after she was dressed, almost thankful that on the way out she she didn't run into Andrea or Jim. Not wanting either of them to know she was arguing with their daughter.

Feeling like ever since she had gotten with Cordelia all they did was argue. Which maybe that was a sign they shouldn't be together but Avery was stubborn and refused to give up. Not when she just wanted to be happy and despite everything Cordelia did make her happy.

Chapter Text

November 2008

Standing in the crowded kitchen Avery frowned to herself as she looked down at her phone. Not in the least bit surprised that Cordelia hadn't texted her back yet.

All she had done was send a short happy Thanksgiving text knowing that she probably wouldn't get a response but maybe she had hoped for one. Hoped that somehow Cordelia had gotten over the tattoo and the fact that Avery had it.

Gotten over that she thought it symbolized Paisley when well maybe it did but she was hoping she could convince Cordelia otherwise. Get her girlfriend back on her good side because arguing with her wasn't fun nor was it what she needed.

Her whole life lately feeling like nothing but chaos. The only time the chaos had really stopped had been the few months she had with Paisley.

"You okay Avery?" Nikki asked bringing Avery out of her thoughts and she turned her head to give her sister-in-law a very forced smile.

"Why wouldn't I be okay?" Avery questioned as she put her phone down on the table and walked to the stove to help her mom start to make some of the desserts that she had planned to fix.

Her mom of course outdoing herself this year in food, something she seemed to try every year. One up herself from the year before.

"Avie's never been okay Nik," Zoe piped up from where she sat at the kitchen table, not really doing much helping which didn't surprise Avery.

It was no secret Zoe would have rather been outside with the boys playing football then in her with the women making the food.

Avery herself though always thrived in the kitchen. Baking and cooking being one thing she loved to do about as much as she loved art and maybe that was why. Because cooking allowed her to create things and make new creations from scratch just like art did.

"Funny," Avery retorted with a playful eye roll. "Just too funny Zoe."

Nikki only chuckled at the girl's interaction, "You just seem off today. Been staring at your phone more than you have actually helping which is so unlike you."

"She has a point," Kate added on from where she was at one of the counters with Natalie, preparing a potato salad. "You usually love being in the kitchen but today you've just been so blah."

Blushing at Kate's words Avery looked down with a shrug, "Just having an argument with a friend," she admitted to some of the truth.

Not telling that said friend was Cordelia who was more than just a friend now.

"Which friend?" Diana asked as she turned to look at Avery with an intense curiosity. "Please don't tell me you've gotten back together with that Presley girl."

Avery rolled her eyes again at that, "No not Paisley," she said using Paisley's real name. "It's Cordy. We got into a stupid fight when I went to go see her last night and it's just bugging me because she's still mad at me," she explained with a smile.

Thankful when her words seemed to shut everyone up for the time being. Avery doing her best to concentrate on the tasks of cooking.

Something that seemed to work for awhile though after Taylor came in to help the women Avery seemed to pay less attention.

Waiting until most of the men had found their way in and half the cooking was done to reach for her phone and head outside to the pool house.

Hoping that once she was alone in there that she could call Cordelia and maybe she'd answer if she wasn't too busy with her family or something.

Making it to the pool house Avery sat down on the couch and dialed Cordelia's number. Holding the phone to her ear as she waited for an answer. A frown finding it's way to her face when in the end she got Cordelia's voicemail and maybe Avery felt Cordelia wasn't busy.

That she was just ignoring Avery instead which hurt because she didn't want to be ignored by her girlfriend. The last time that had happened she had been cheated on.

"Hey Cordy," Avery spoke after the beep once Cordelia's voicemail greeting was over. "It's me trying to call you and see if you're available but I guess you aren't. That or you know you're ignoring me. Which I guess I can see why you are you know. But I'm sorry about the tattoo and I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. That doesn't change how I feel about you though or that I'm here willing to try. I mean it has to mean something that I'm calling you, trying to contact you. Not Paisley or anyone else. Just you my girlfriend who I care so much about. Just call me when you get the time or whenever you forgive me."

After speaking her long rambling words to Cordelia, Avery ended the call and laid her cell phone back on the table as she stayed sitting on the couch for a bit longer. Her hands finding the hem of her skirt which she played with some.

Heaving a tiny sigh as she played with the hem of her skirt, Avery let herself get lost in her thoughts. Thoughts about how much had changed in her life these past months of this year.

A year that was almost she had, had her first girlfriend and lost her. How she now had her second girlfriend and how she feared she was on the verge of losing her as well. Not wanting to lose two relationships before the fucking year was done.

Willing to cling to Cordelia like a fucking anchor if she had too. If that was what it took because maybe all she wanted was love and to be loved. After having it with Paisley..having someone who saw her and understood her. Got all her bad and good sides.

Someone who pushed her and changed her.

Avery though must have gotten too lost in her thoughts, not even having realized she wasn't alone in the pool house. Not until she heard a familiar voice speaking to her.

"Hiding from the family?" Zac asked making her turn to look at him.

"Something like that," Avery told him with a tiny smirk as she looked him over. A bit surprised that he was even skinnier than the last time she saw him. Which was a month ago now. "What about you?"

"Just getting ready to start the festivities, I guess," Zac replied. "Wanna head back to the main house with me?"

Avery considered his offer all of a few seconds before knowing that maybe they needed to talk first. "I think maybe we should talk first," she told him nicely but hoping even in her niceness that he could hear how serious she was.

"Okay," Zac spoke sounding hesitant but even with the hesitance he still sat down on the couch next to her.

Looking away from Zac after he sat down, Avery did her best to try to think of a way to broach the subject as best as she could. Not wanting to make her older brother mad at her because she already had Cordelia angry with her and one person was enough.

"I'm worried about you Zac," Avery finally told him as she looked over at him again.

"Worried?" Zac mused his eyebrows furrowing like he didn't see a reason why she'd be worried.

"You're so skinny lately," Avery told him not sure how no one could have told him this before. "You're wasting away."

"Please," Zac told her almost sounding sarcastic as he grabbed his stomach and pinching it.

Obviously trying to prove a point to her that he wasn't that skinny. A point that fell on deaf ears.

"I can practically count your ribs from here," Avery said as she narrowed her eyes at him. "I'm not surprised that you don't see it, but the rest of us do. You're losing way too much weight and you've lost it way too quickly."

"So what are you saying?" Zac asked her though from his tone it seemed like he already knew what she was saying.

"I'm saying I really don't think this is healthy," Avery admitted honestly. "I think...I don't know what you're doing or how you're doing it, so I'm not going to say...I'm not going to diagnose you here," she sighed with a shake of her head. "I'm not a doctor, a psychiatrist, whatever. I just know that this doesn't look good Zac. It scares me and if it scares me and I don't even get to spend that much time with you then I can only imagine what everyone else sees and what they think."

"No one else has said anything," Zac retorted almost too fast.

Fast enough that Avery suspected it was a lie.

"I doubt that," Avery mumbled under her breath some. "But even if they haven't, they're probably just too caught up in their own problems. Maybe it's because I don't see you every day that I can see the difference so clearly. To everyone else, it's more gradual. But I see you here and I think back to the last time I saw you," she told him her mind going back to Charlotte. "And you were barely eating even then and you're so, so much skinnier. I don't know how anyone else could miss it, but obviously they have."

"People see what they want to see," Zac replied Avery feeling like she could relate to that.

Because apparently people did that with her. They only saw what they wanted and what they wanted was a good little heterosexual daughter, sister, and friend.

"And you think that doesn't apply to you, too?" Avery shot back at him a bit cross. "I mean, look at you. You don't see how scary skinny you are, how you're disappearing in front of our eyes when you didn't even need to lose weight to begin with, and you don't see anyone else's problems either! You just see this imagined problem with yourself, and you don't ask anyone else what they're going through. You're not the only one hurting here, Zac."

After saying all that Avery took a moment to catch her breath, realizing that was probably the most open she had been with her brother in months.

"I know I'm not. I never said I was," Zac told her but the guilty look on his face let her know that he knew she was right.

On some level she was right and Zac knew that.

"But you never ask anyone else how they're doing, do you?" Avery asked him with a raised eyebrow. "We can all pretty clearly see how you're doing, even if most of us are too scared to talk about. But I bet you have no clue what's going on in my life," she frowned with a shake of her head. "We used to be so close, didn't we? And now you have no clue," she muttered out.

A part of her hating that Zac honestly had no idea. Hadn't even realized with as close as she was to Paisley months ago that she was a lesbian or how he had missed her breakdown after Paisley was gone. How he hadn't even seen clues besides how weird she had been at the airport.

Again a side effect of him seeing what he wanted to see.

"Then tell me what I have no clue about," Zac replied as he eyed her a true genuine concern in his brown eyes. "I'm listening. I really am."

"Zac.." Avery started having to pause some as she felt a whole bundle of nerves hit at the admission she was about to make. "I'm..I'm a lesbian."

After her confession, Zac fell silent. A silence she didn't like and one that made her feel almost close to having a panic attack.

"Can you please say something?" Avery asked him softly her voice cracking as she did.

"What should I say?" Zac asked her. “Did you expect me to disapprove or something? Because that kind of hurts, if you did. But I just… I didn’t know. That’s all. So I’m surprised. I just hope you’re happy.”

"I'm getting there," Avery muttered out knowing she was far from happy right now but she was trying. "And I'm sorry, I should have known you would be okay with it. I don't give you enough credit sometimes."

"Nobody ever does," Zac replied with a smile on his face.

Avery laughing at that though her laugh came out more of a sob thanks to the fact that the tears that had been threatening to come since her voice cracked, chose then to come out.

"None of that," Zac told her after he reached up and wiped away a few of her stray tears. "This is Thanksgiving. We can't go in there crying and depressed and shit. This is a happy day, a good day, right?"

Avery nodded, "Right, it is a good day. I came out to one person and he didn't hate me for it."

Zac slowly wrapped an arm around her shoulder, "I could never hate you for anything, Avie baby."

"I could hate you for still calling me that," Avery told him a teasing tone to her voice.

"But you know that's what you're always gonna be. You just need to get used to it," Zac told her before his face turned serious. "And while I don't hit women, any girl who breaks your heart is still going to have me to answer to."

Avery laughed softly at that, "I'm not sure how intimidating that really is," she told him honestly. "But thank you. For...everything."

"You're welcome. Thank you for...for trusting me, I guess. I feel kinda honored to be the first person you've told," he smiled and Avery decided that she'd let him believe that and well there was some truth to it sort of.

He was the first person she had told in the family which had to count for something.

"And as far as everything else goes, I'm sorry that I'm worrying you," Zac sighed. "I don't want to worry people."

Avery pursed her lips at his words, "If you eat a big dinner and a massive slice of pumpkin pie, I'll forgive you and I won't worry so much, at least for right now."

Seeing Zac pause slightly at her words Avery chewed on her lip.

"Deal," Zac finally spoke. "Just promise me won't lose touch again, and if you ever need to talk to anyone...about...about girlfriend problems or whatever..just let me know."

"I will," Avery replied as she stood from the couch and held her hand out to Zac. "Now come on, let's go inside while there's still food left and before they send out the search parties," she told him feeling happy when she got a laugh from him.

Helping him up after he had taken her hand and after he was up she let his hand go. Walking side by side with him out of the pool house and back to their parents main house.

Feeling a lot less heavy now that someone else close to her knew her secrets. Knew that she was a lesbian. Glad that it was Zac of all people and that he had been so accepting when she had been so afraid that he would have been one of the one's to hate her.

Want nothing more to do with her and maybe even if things went to shit with Cordy she'd be okay. She still had Zac and Juniper and Ethan.

Maybe she didn't need to cling so hard to someone or force something. But then again maybe she did.

Chapter Text

November 2008

After helping her mom put away what leftovers they had as her brothers and their families all took stuff home with them too, Avery left the kitchen tiredly after telling both of her parents good night.

Retreating upstairs and almost wanting to call it a night but as she passed Jessica's room on the way to her own she came to a stop at the door which was open. Spying both Jessica and Zoe sitting on Jessica's bed and watching a Christmas movie already.

"Really?" Avery asked them with an amused smirk. "It's not even midnight yet and you've already broke out the Christmas movies?"

Jessica turned to look at Avery sheepishly, "It was Zoe's idea," she defended but Avery wasn't fully convinced. Figured maybe it was an idea they had both came up with.

"I'm sure it was," Avery teased her as she walked a bit farther into the room, soon joining her sister's on the bed. "Ah White Christmas," she stated with another amused smirk.

White Christmas was a well known Hanson Family favorite movie so she wasn't the least bit surprised that they had chosen it to watch.

"You look happy Avie," Zoe muttered from where she sat beside Avery, sounding genuine as she looked her over. "Happier than I've seen you lately."

"I guess I am," Avery told her honestly knowing that even though she and Cordelia were still arguing that she was happy.

Happy that she had finally came out to someone in her family and been accepted. Maybe it gave her hope for whenever she was ready to come out to the others.

After saying that though, Avery fell silent and let herself get lost in the movie. Suddenly forgetting for awhile just how sleepy she had been. Almost wishing for a bit that she could just get lost in the movie and forget about her problems.

It was what she did best anyway. Run from her problems and find ways to hide from it. Latch onto people and things who she could use as excuses.

Waking the next morning to an incessant knocking on her bedroom door, Avery groaned some as she opened her eyes. Letting them move to the clock where she saw it was eight in the morning and this was not the kind of wake up she wanted at eight in the morning.

She was well known for not being a morning person. Whoever was on the other side of the door had better been dead or close to it in her opinion.

Sliding out of bed Avery walked to the door, "This better be life or death," she spoke through gritted teeth as she opened the door and paused when she came face to face with Cordelia.

Feeling a bit taken aback at the sight of her girlfriend. Someone she had thought was still ignoring her seeing as she hadn't returned the call Avery had left last night.

"Well it's not but I brought coffee and a bagel," Cordelia smiled as she held up the cup of coffee and the bag with the bagel in it. "Figured I'd bring both to ease the pain in the ass you can be in the mornings."

Avery smiled some, taking both from Cordelia as she moved aside so that the other girl could come into her bedroom.

After both were in her hands and Cordelia had entered her room, Avery turned on her heel. Using her foot to shut the door behind her. Watching as Cordelia walked to the bed and sat down.

Avery soon following behind her as she sipped on the coffee. Smiling more as the warm liquid hit her system, hoping it would work fast to wake her up. Make her more jovial and less of a bitch.

"I'm surprised you came," Avery spoke as she opened the bag with her bagel. Again smiling more because Cordelia had gotten her favorite kind.

A bagel with the blueberry cream cheese spread that she liked.

"I didn't want to leave tomorrow without seeing you Avie," Cordelia told her, reminding Avery of the fact that her visit for Thanksgiving was a short one.

The Christmas one was going to be longer even if she had to leave New Year's day instead of being able to spend that holiday with Avery.

That was if they were still together. After all Cordelia could have came here to break up with her, wanting to get it done before she ran off to California free to date any girl who caught her eye. A thought that made Avery more jealous than she liked to admit.

Avery furrowed her eyebrows as she took a bite of her bagel, "Did you come here to break up with me before heading to California?" she asked almost afraid of the response. "Is that why you brought food and coffee to butter me up so I won't be too mad?" she asked another question trying to play off how scared she was.

Cordelia gave a small chuckle at that as she shook her head, "No, I came to apologize," she admitted unable to even look at Avery. "I felt like such a huge bitch after I got your voicemail."

"I didn't leave that voicemail to make you feel bad," Avery told her in between bites of the bagel and sips of the coffee. "I just wanted to apologize for my part in everything."

"I know," Cordelia sighed softly. "But I still felt like a bitch anyway. You have a right to get any tattoos you want with any meaning for you. Just like you have a right to keep the necklace and I shouldn't make you feel awful for wanting things that remind you of the girl you loved. I guess I'm just still bitter that I wasn't the first girl you loved and I'm still so afraid that I'm just going to be second best for you."

Frowning Avery waited until she was done with the bagel before reaching for Cordelia's free hand, "You're not second best to me Cordy. It's not a competition," she spoke knowing it would never be that.

Even if she didn't love Cordelia yet. Just cared for her so fucking deeply.

"It's probably going to take awhile for me to believe that," Cordelia told her as she took her hand, squeezing it some. "But I'll try as long as you are willing to try this relationship too."

Avery grinned proudly as she finished her coffee, letting go of Cordelia's hand to stand and throw her trash away in the trash can she had in her room.

After she had done that she walked back to the bed and sat back down next to Cordelia, "I'm still here and still trying," she reassured her as she leaned over to kiss her cheek softly.

Feeling Cordelia's cheeks move as she smiled when Avery kissed her cheek.

Cordelia slowly moving her head until their lips brushed as they kissed each other. Avery allowing Cordelia to push her back against the bed. A shiver going down her spine as Cordelia so effortlessly slipped her hand up Avery's shirt and her tongue into Avery's mouth.

Their tongues brushing against each other as they moaned into the kiss when their hips met. Avery letting her eyes fall shut as the kiss progressed.

Progressed enough that clothing got shed until they were both naked. Then Avery opened her eyes, looking Cordelia over and blushing when once again Cordelia took her naked body in as well.

"Is this weird for you Avery?" Cordelia asked against Avery's lips as her hand found it's way between Avery's legs. Brushing over the already wet flesh.

Avery surprised at how easy it had taken her to get turned when just the other night it had been a bit harder.

"Not weird," Avery told her as her blush grew some. "Just new and different," she spoke before moaning when Cordelia once again brushed her hand over Avery's pussy.

Avery's mouth falling open as she felt one of Cordelia's fingers slide inside of her. Knowing it had been or really felt like so long since she had, had someone else's fingers inside of her.

Not since Charlotte with Paisley but no she refused to think of Paisley when Cordelia was above her. Finger fucking her so well that Avery suspected she had done it a lot with Jane...someone else she probably shouldn't have thought of during this.

Deciding to do her best to shut her brain down and just revel in how good what Cordelia was doing felt. How nice the rhythm was and how for now Cordelia wasn't teasing her.

Was being nice and rewarding her maybe though Avery didn't know why. She almost felt like she didn't deserve it.

Needed to work for what they were doing after all the shit that had happened the other day because in the end it had been her fault. If she hadn't got the tattoo or kept it secret from Cordelia.

Avery's head falling back slightly, Cordelia's lips soon attaching to the free bit of skin that was exposed thanks to that.

Which once again got a moan out of Avery right as Cordelia slid a second finger inside of her. Her pace getting a bit faster and Avery bit her lip to keep from moaning any louder.

A part of her knowing that her family would all be waking up soon and the last thing she needed or wanted was them to hear or catch her having sex with Cordelia. Being almost lucky that none of them had caught her when she had been in this very same bed with Paisley on the Fourth of July.

Her brain automatically doing what she didn't want and going to Paisley which caused her eyes to fall shut. Her brain being overloaded with images of her ex and the time they shared in this very bed.

How Avery still considered that night one of the best of her life. Even if the days after had been some of the worse.

The images of Paisley being enough it seemed to bring Avery over the edge as she reached her orgasm. Almost surprised when it was Cordelia's name that slipped from her mouth since she had been thinking of Paisley as she orgasmed.

When Cordelia removed her fingers from Avery, Avery opened her eyes just in time to see Cordelia licking her fingers off.

Avery blushing at how much the sight had turned her on.

"Fuck that was hot," she stated which made Cordelia look down at her curiously. "You licking my taste off your fingers," she answered with a smirk before letting her hands rest on either side of Cordelia's waist.

Flipping them over after she had done that and as she looked down at Cordelia she smirked, "Now, it's my turn to please you."

"Please me huh?" Cordelia asked playing coy. "Just how do you expect to do that Avery?"

Avery smirked more as she leaned down to press a quick kiss to Cordelia's lips, "Well first I am going to use my fingers," she told her as her hand went between Cordelia's legs. Not at all surprised at how wet she already was. "Then I'm going to kiss down every inch of your body before ending up between your legs where I intend to make you come just from my tongue."

Cordelia kept her coy look as she locked eyes with Avery, "Then get to work baby," she whispered her words coming out soft.

Avery only smirking a bit bigger as she leaned in to kiss Cordelia again. Almost anticipating everything she wanted to do as well as hoping her brain didn't bring up anymore images of Paisley.

Wanting just one experience with her girlfriend where her ex didn't find her way involved somehow.

Chapter Text

December 2008

Avery who had been in the living room doing crafts with all the children to keep them occupied as her mom had left to take a call from Taylor, looked up as she saw her mom come back. A somber expression on her face leaving Avery wondering just what was wrong.

A sinking feeling forming in her stomach as she watched her mom motion for her dad and Avery knew whatever was wrong couldn't have been good. Not when her mom looked so somber and wanted her dad.

But of course she kept that thought to herself. Going back to working on the crafts with the three children. Trying not to laugh at the fact that Penny had made a woman Santa. Proudly proclaiming to Ezra after he teased her that Santa could be any gender that Santa wanted.

After all the north pole had to have been magical if it had flying and talking reindeer and elves who made toys. A fact Avery couldn't deny but she got a kick out of all the childlike innocence. Wishing that none of the kids had to grow up one day but she knew they would.

Kids always did grow up in the end. It was the reality of life and once they grew up they'd lose the innocence they had. Lose the safety net of just being a kid.

Something Avery wished she had since her life had been like a war zone for months. Wishing she could just use the excuse that she was a child.

Coming out of her thoughts though as her mom and dad came back into the room, Avery stood from where she sat hoping the kids would be okay alone for a few seconds.

"What's going on?" Avery asked them with a raised eyebrow once she was close enough. Keeping her voice low so none of the kids could hear her.

Walker gave a heavy sigh as he ran a hand down his face, "Natalie's in labor," he confirmed Avery again getting that sinking feeling. "It's well Taylor didn't elaborate too much but it's not going well. We're still taking the kids to the hospital but I think Zac and Kate are going to come for Shep later. They're at the hospital right now with Taylor and Natalie."

Avery took a deep breath, "And I get baby duty while you guys take the three rugrats to the hospital to see their new sibling?" she questioned not wanting to think of Natalie's labor not going well.

The last time something hadn't gone well pregnancy wise had been when Kate miscarried so a part of her was afraid something worse could happen this time. Apparently she wasn't the only one though given her parents reactions.

"You get baby duty," Diana told her though she sounded hesitant almost like she didn't want to leave Avery fully alone with Shepherd. Which was odd as she had, had no problems in the past with leaving her caring for babies.

But then again that was before things got strained and she saw Avery as rebelling against everything. Things that were so far off from what was actually happening.

"Or I mean I can let Mac take a break from school work and watch him," Avery retorted sarcastically. "Since you don't want me on baby duty."

Walker who obviously sensed the tension between Diana and Avery shook his head, "You're fine watching the baby," he reassured her. "Now I'm going to get the kids ready to go."

Diana stayed silent until Walker slipped off as she looked at Avery, "I never said I didn't want you watching the baby," she told her, Avery wanting to argue that she didn't have too it was all in how she spoke. "Just...he's due a feeding soon so you're going to have to fix the bottle out of the milk Kate left. It's in the fridge and you need to also make sure that Zoe and Mac get their snack break in thirty minutes," she told her.

Avery giving her mom a smile as she made a mental note of all of that stuff. A part of her now almost wishing that Jessie hadn't had college classes at Tulsa Community College today. That she was already off for Christmas break because Avery wasn't sure she could handle this all.

But she'd try and maybe one day it'd give her practice for that future she wanted with a wife and a kid one day.

Watching as her mom walked off to help her dad get Taylor and Natalie's kids ready, Avery stalked off upstairs to her parents bedroom where she knew Shepherd was taking a nap. Almost hating to wake him even if he was due a feeding.

He was just adorable when sleeping though.

Avery though who had made it upstairs came to a stop outside Mac's bedroom door which was cracked open. Listening as he and Zoe talked in hushed voices almost like they were trying to hide something.

Nothing that would surprise Avery especially since Zoe wasn't even supposed to be in Mac's room. She was supposed to be in her own room doing school work.

"I'm telling you Mac," Zoe whined and Avery could almost practically see the eye roll the ten year old had down to a t. "Mom hid the present that Paisley sent Avery."

Raising her eyebrow at that Avery leaned a bit closer to the door, trying to stay silent. Not wanting to give away her presence.

"And what mom did this in your presence sweet Zobug?" Mac asked her sounding like he didn't believe her for once on something.

"No, I may or may not have followed her up to the bedroom like a ninja and watched as she put the present in her closet."

Mac let out a loud breath, almost like maybe he was being convinced by his sister's words, "Okay, so say I believe you. I still don't get why Paisley even sent Avery a gift or why mom would hide it."

"Paisley obviously wants to be friends with Avie again," Zoe spoke as if that should be obvious. "Which is stupid and mom thinks so too or she wouldn't have hid the present in her closet."

"Nah, that's just mom being mom," Mac muttered Avery smiling almost gleefully at his words before shaking her head as she slowly and very silently moved away from the door.

Heading towards her parents bedroom where she found Shepherd still asleep in the playpen that had been set up beside her parents bed.

Though before going to get him up, Avery walked to the closet which she opened. Just wanting to see out of idle curiosity if Zoe had been telling the truth. If their mom had somehow hidden a package for her in the closet.

But even if she had it had been a few days ago more than likely and she could have gotten rid of it by now. Had tons of time to do that.

Biting her lip after the door to the closet was open Avery looked around not spotting anything at first. Not until she had been about to shut the door and something on a top shelf caught her eyes. Avery having to stand on her tip toes to pull it down.

The minute she did though and she had it in her hands. Her eyes widened as she was faced with something that was addressed to her from Paisley.

Using Paisley's New York address which Avery hadn't even known until today.

Shaking her head Avery opened the package, pulling out whatever was inside. Seeing that it was wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. Knowing that whatever it was, Paisley had intended for her to get it on Christmas. Though if it had been up to her mom she wouldn't have gotten it all.

Feeling a bit angry, Avery shut the closet door as she held the present. Leaving her parents room in a huff as she headed to her own room to put the present away.

More than likely hiding it in her closet until she found time to open it by herself on Christmas.

After she had put the gift away in her room Avery headed back to her parents room where she finally got Shepherd up. Making a face when he woke up, scowling at her.

"I know buddy," Avery whispered to him as she kissed his forehead. "I hated having to wake you up as well but it's time for a feeding," she muttered out as she left the room with Shepherd held firmly on her hip.

Scowl still ever present on his face and on the way down to the kitchen she also went back to Mac's room. This time opening the door, not surprised to find Zoe still in there but at least it saved her a trip to Zoe's room. Letting them both know it was snack time.

"Why isn't mom or dad telling us?" Mac mused as he stood from where he had been seated.

"They had to take Natalie and Taylor's kids to the hospital," Avery answered as she left his room. Both her younger siblings following behind. "Natalie's in labor so they're getting a new baby sibling tonight," she spoke not telling either of them that there was issues as well.

Knowing they were too young to have to worry over something like that.

Later that night after Zac and Kate had came to get Shepherd and her parents had returned home. Avery sat in her room on her laptop. Uploading a few pictures that she had pestered Zac to take when he came by. Having snuck upstairs to get the camera while Zoe chatted with Kate.

The pictures most being of her and Shepherd. Though a few included Zac but only because she was feeling particularly nice to Zac today. That and maybe Shepherd had gotten cranky halfway through the photo shoot of them and would only calm when Zac took him.

The picture taking duty then having fallen towards Mac.

Once the pictures had all been uploaded Avery soon signed onto her Facebook account. An account she had made just last month and one she used way more than her MySpace these days.

After being signed on she made a folder for the pictures, adding the pictures to the folder. Most of them without captions except for the one where Zac was mocking Shepherd's crying face. That one Avery had just simply captioned silly boys.

Smiling once all the pictures had been added to her Facebook. Avery went to go to Cordelia's just to check and see if her girlfriend had been on today. See how her day was because they hadn't gotten to talk. Cordelia being swamped with exams as her Christmas break loomed.

But before she could get easily immersed in Cordelia's Facebook feed, her phone which wasn't far away from her on the bed vibrated. Bringing her out of her thoughts as she reached for it.

Pausing when she saw the text message was from Paisley. Almost surprised because they hadn't talked since her birthday.

Taking a deep breath Avery clicked on the message anyway.

Nice flannel shirt you're wearing over your All You Need Is Love t-shirt in those pictures of you and you're cute as fuck nephew. Shirt thief.

Blushing Avery looked down at the flannel shirt she was wearing over her t-shirt. Only then realizing that it was the same one she had worn the morning after the Fourth of July. A shirt she had never gotten a chance to return to Paisley.

Not a thief. But you cheated and I never got a chance to give it back.

After sending that she paused before sending another text back almost immediately.

I also know you're going to claim you didn't cheat but why should I believe you? I have no reason too. You admitted to it.

I did admit to it but it was best okay. I needed you to break up with me...just ask your god damn mom.

My mom isn't that bad Pai. So just whatevs. You say you didn't cheat and I don't believe it. It is what it. I'll return the shirt though if you want it back.

No you can keep it. Seeing you wearing it while holding a baby...I finally get it now Hanson. I get why you imagined us having a family some day and how those images could come so easily.

Avery bit her lip as she read the last text message. Knowing she shouldn't respond back, should just leave the conversation at that. But when had she ever done what she knew was right?

You imagined me holding our baby?

I imagined everything. Being able to marry you, you being pregnant with our baby(pregnant sex would be amazing). You holding our baby.....just us being a family one day. I imagined it all baby.

Frowning at that message Avery heaved a tiny sigh as she turned her phone off. Not sure what she could say to that other than admitting that she could imagine it all too still so perfectly.

Avery knowing she shouldn't admit that while dating Cordelia. For once deciding to do the thing she should do and just keep something to herself.

Because she still owed it to Cordelia to try. Also was still leery on Paisley being honest or not with her claims of not cheating.

Chapter Text

December 2008

After Viggo's birth and the stress of that day. Not just Natalie's labor but also Avery finding the present and being texted by Paisley, Christmas came way too soon it seemed.

Christmas Eve being upon her family already. Avery being the dutiful little helper to her mom in the kitchen for most of the day because Jessica had went to celebrate at Joe's house that morning since she wouldn't get to see him tomorrow and Zoe well she of course somehow found a way out of the cooking as well.

Which just left Avery alone with her mother in the kitchen, doing the cooking before everyone else arrived with their respective families in tow. Something Avery suspected would get bigger each year as her siblings kept having babies or getting married.

"You know I almost wished you had invited Ethan," Diana spoke up breaking the silence they had been cooking in. "He was such a sweet boy and I'd love to have gotten to know him better."

Avery forced a smile at that, "He had a bunch of tattoos though mom," she reminded her. "You nearly had a heart attack over mine."

"Maybe I could come around to it if I had a future son-in-law with them," Diana told her, making Avery turn her head to see an almost hopeful look in her mom's eyes. Realizing then that her mom did indeed have hopes that she'd get with Ethan.

"Yeah well Ethan isn't going to be your future son-in-law," Avery said as she kept her forced smile. "We're just friends."

"Oh but Avery that's how every good relationship starts," Diana told her as her smile and the hopeful look in her eyes grew.

Avery went silent at that, deciding it was best just to not argue with her because of course she knew how things truly were. She was the one living her own life.

She knew she'd never end up with Ethan. Anyway when they had talked last week he had reconnected with his ex-boyfriend. Sounded hopeful that maybe they could reignite the flame they still had according to him.

Going back to helping her mom cook, Avery fell silent. Almost glad when she heard Jessica come back. Her mom calling out for her eldest daughter to come help.

Which Avery was thankful for because maybe with three people they could get everything her mom wanted to fix done on time.

Later that night after everything had been cooked and her brothers and their respective families had arrived Avery couldn't help but smirk to herself as Zoe and Mac got tasked with the duty of helping put things on the table.

Served them right for not helping she figured. Made her also relieved that once again she wasn't the one who had been roped into helping. Especially when she had been the one who had helped make most of the food. Except for what little Jessica had done when she arrived back home.

Though Avery didn't speak much during Mac and Zoe helping to get the table ready. Instead she took it upon herself to keep the kids entertained until it was time to eat.

Asking them all questions about how excited they were for tomorrow and what they wanted Santa to bring. Not surprised when Penny of course mentioned wanting clothes because at three the girl was already becoming her own little fashionista.

Something Avery probably blamed on Natalie as Natalie loved to dress her in high end things and treat her like a girly girl. Which Avery wasn't sure she could blame Natalie since Penny for the moment was her only girl. The one she got to do fun things with.

Whereas the others were boys and Avery just figured Natalie loved having a daughter to spoil more so than boys.

Once it was time for dinner, Avery helped usher the kids into the living room before sitting at the table herself. Fixing her plate in silence. Though after she had fixed her plate she fell into a steady conversation with Mac. Both of them realizing they had snuck some of the alcohol to drink.

Both also praying they didn't get caught drinking it because as Mac had put it, they'd be dead and buried six feet under by eight am on Christmas morning.

Something that made Avery burst out laughing only because she agreed with him.

It was no secret that while all of the kids experimented with smoking and drinking before leaving home they all did it in private. Their parents making it clear if they knew they'd make sure they faced a pretty serious punishment.

Which was almost laughable to Avery but she did like breathing so she never let her parents see her doing that stuff. Usually never even came home plastered either because she knew her limits. Knew when to quit so she wouldn't get in trouble.

After she had finished eating though Avery left the table once a few others had. Going into the living room where she found Kate sitting on the couch with Shepherd snuggled into her lap.

"Hey," Avery smiled softly as she sat down beside them. "How is the little man doing?" she questioned watching as Shepherd looked up at her with his big brown eyes, looking so much already like a good mix of both his parents.

"Oh just getting sleepy already," Kate spoke as she looked down at her son with a grin. "Had a big day today, that's for sure," she said as she turned to look at Avery. "How is the aunt of the little man doing though?"

Avery heaved a sigh, "Better than I was a few months ago," she shrugged before pushing some hair behind her ear. "Life is finally calming down for me it seems."

"So you've gotten over Paisley being gone from your life?" Kate questioned obviously having taken what Avery said to mean she was doing better than she was after that but well she had meant since before that even but she didn't see the use in correcting Kate.

"Yeah I have," Avery lied because a part of her wasn't sure she'd ever get over it.

Not when somehow Paisley always seemed to still insert herself into Avery's life every so often.

"That's good because I still miss her," Kate laughed as she shook her head. "Was kind of nice having someone so different in the mix."

Avery had to look away at that, her eyes landing on her sun tattoo, "Mom's happy though," she spoke as she looked back up. "I mean it's no secret she wasn't Pai's biggest fan."

Kate rolled her eyes, "Your mom is just well...she has her ways," she muttered out. "I think she tries her best but sometimes it's too much."

"That's an understatement," Avery added on sarcastically before looking down at Shepherd again. Seeing that he had apparently dozed off during their conversation.

Kate looking down too as she let out a tiny chuckle, "I think that means it's our cue to leave this shindig a bit earlier than planned. If only I could remember where my lovable idiot of a husband ran off too."

Avery smirked at the way Kate described Zac, "I don't remember where I last saw him either but I can help you track him down," she told Kate before standing up.

Heading off in search of her brother who like herself had a penchant for hiding away at times during family functions.

When she made it to the kitchen, Avery smiled at the sight of Zac, "There you are," she muttered before walking over to him. Taking a cookie from a nearby plate on the counter and taking a bite before speaking again. "Kate was looking for you. I think she's almost ready to leave. The baby's already asleep."

"I'll go find her soon," Zac spoke as he ran a hand through his hair. "I'm just about ready to leave too."

Avery paused at that as she made it to him, "Did you have any of these cookies?" she asked him with a tiny hopeful smile. "They're really good, especially the chocolate chip. You should take some with you."

When Zac shook his head, Avery eyed him more closely, "Did you eat anything at all?"

"I'm really not in the mood for a Christmas interrogation Ave," Zac told her as he sat his glass of eggnog down with a loud thud.

Almost making her jump and Avery felt slightly bad for upsetting him but she was only worried. Had his best interest at heart because she felt like she was watching the brother she loved dearly slip away.

"Yeah well I was kinda hoping Christmas would be the one you could put aside this..." Avery started but stopped as she tried to find words. None coming to her. "Whatever this is...and just try to be happy. Or at least fake it for everyone else's sake."

"You think I can just turn it on and off like that?" Zac questioned as he raised an eyebrow. "Like there's just some switch I can flick?" he finished with a hiccupy gasp making Avery afraid that he was going to cry.

Again making her feel slightly bad because she hadn't wanted to make him cry on Christmas Eve.

Avery looked down, away from him as she shook her head, "I'm sorry, I know it's not like that," she mumbled before looking back up. "But take it from someone who does a lot of pretending. Sometimes it's necessary. It isn't fun but it's necessary," she sighed because god had she learned that lesson hard. "I know my situation is different, but we all have our things, you know? Our secrets, our pain, our whatever. The stuff that drags us down. What it is may be different, but the way we deal with it is pretty similar. Especially you and me," she trailed off again before giving Zac a bittersweet smile.

"Or I guess that would be the way we don't deal with it," she finished hearing Zac stifle a laugh at that.

"I think don't deal with it, is definitely an accurate characterization," Zac agreed which made Avery smile a more genuine smile.

"Yeah, well, maybe we need to start. Or at least put on a better face," Avery shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe if you fake it enough, it gets easier. If it does, let me know, okay?"

Zac nodded his head, "Will do. If you do the same for me, Avie baby," he told her making her wince slightly at the nickname.

"You're never going to stop calling me that, are you?"

"I hadn't planned on it," Zac spoke with a smile that Avery felt was one of the more honest ones he had given her tonight.

Opening her mouth to speak Avery stopped though when she heard footsteps. Not wanting to say anymore because this conversation well it was one just for them.

Not them and a third person. A third person who happened to be Kate, finally tracking down her husband in the only place that really made sense for Zac to be in.

"Thought I'd find you here," Kate spoke as she looked between Zac and Avery. "I didn't interrupt anything important, did I?"

Avery shook her head, watching as somehow Zac seemed to shake his head right at the same time as her. Proving just how similar they could be.

Kate though stayed silent for a bit after that, seeming not to care that either of them could be lying. Instead she only walked a bit closer to Zac. "Had enough of the holiday spirit?" she asked him before tapping his glass. "Or should I say, holiday spirits?"

"No, I think I learned my lesson on that front," Zac answered leaving Avery feeling confused.

Like she had missed something but she knew better than to ask. Some things were best left not known in this family.

"But yeah, I think I'm ready to head home," Zac continued as he sighed softly. "I foresee a long night of assembling Christmas presents from Santa in my future."

Kate let out a soft chuckle, "You know I'll help."

"I know," Zac told her. "You always do," he smiled again, leaving Avery with the feeling that he meant that in more ways than one.

When Zac turned back to her, Avery watched as he kept his smile, "I'll see you soon, okay? Keep in touch."

"I will," Avery spoke before turning to Kate. "And you take care of my big brother. He's...he's something else, you know."

"I know," Kate replied in a solemn tone which surprised Avery. Though Avery again didn't ask anything, just watched as Kate linked her arms with Zac. "And I think it's far past time for me to get him and his son home. Bye, Avery."

Before Kate or Zac could leave though, Avery leaned in to hug Zac quickly. Her eyes growing wide when she felt just how tiny he was.

A fact that made her almost afraid she'd break the man she always saw as invincible in half.

Pulling away from him, she caught his eye and saw that he must have felt the same. That she would have broken him but neither of them spoke of it.

Instead she watched him and Kate leave, only moving after they left to throw the eggnog out of the glass he had left sitting on the counter.

A task that after she had finished it, she slipped out of the kitchen, catching the tail end of an awkward conversation between Zac and Isaac.

Getting the sense that there were so many things going on in this family. Things that well made her feel that she was glad she wasn't privy to everything.

Chapter Text

December 2008

Waking early on Christmas Day, Avery turned over in bed to silence her alarm clock. An alarm she had set so that she'd have enough time to open the present that Paisley had sent her before having to go downstairs and do family duties.

Be a part of festivities yet again. The whole holiday season starting to make Avery tired. Tired in general as well as tired of hiding because hiding meant not being able to spend time with Cordelia who she had only seen once since she arrived in Tulsa on the twentieth and who she had agreed to try to meet up with today if she could find the time to sneak out of her parents house.

Avery knowing that could be tricky as Thanksgiving and Christmas were holiday's that her mom treated differently. Expecting the family to stay together. Her married brothers and their wives too usually always finding their way back on Christmas day just for leftovers.

Something that pleased her mom as it helped family togetherness or some shit.

Stretching after she turned off her alarm, Avery slipped out of bed and went to her closet where she had hidden the gift she had stolen from her mom's room.

A gift that had been intended for her anyway so Avery wasn't sure it was entirely stealing in that aspect. Not at all. It was hers and she was just taking it back.

Opening her closet Avery bent down, pulling the gift out slowly before sitting on the floor and opening it. A sad sort of smile playing on her lips when she was greeted with two Fleetwood Mac vinyl records.

Because of course Paisley would remember what she had mentioned in California. Seemed like the girl just like Avery was having a hard time forgetting their past when it was probably best for both of them if they did just forget their past.

They had other people. She had Cordelia and Paisley had New York girl even if she claimed that was an open relationship.

Sitting on the mattress in the guest bedroom at Hannah's, Avery raised her eyebrow doing her best not to turn and look at her reflection in the mirror.

Not wanting to show that maybe she was afraid in trusting Paisley with braiding her hair. A task Avery had only agreed to let her do because she may have been high at the time and now hours later as she came down from her high and Fleetwood Mac playing from the record player on the floor beside the bed Avery was nervous.

Not sure if Paisley even knew what she was doing. Not sure if Paisley had even braided hair before. Yet here Avery was praying she had because she didn't want to have to deal with one big knot in her hair later. Especially since her hair was long.

Avery having decided after her last haircut a few years back that she'd let it grow out. Only getting trims every so many months to get rid of dead ends.

"You sure you know what you're doing?" Avery spoke up finally showing her nervousness.

"I know what I'm doing sweet Avie baby," Paisley muttered with an amused chuckle. "I used to braid my little sister's hair all the time."

Avery raised an eyebrow at that, "You have a sister?" she questioned knowing she didn't know much about Paisley's home life.

"Yeah, she's eighteen now but I have a sister. Haven't seen her since the day I came out to my parents at sixteen and they kicked me out," Paisley revealed making Avery frown. "Had to couch surf for a year before Cal's mom took pity on me and let me stay with her until I was eighteen."

Going silent at that admission Avery finally understood why Paisley never talked about her family much. Having been told once before that she had been kicked out at sixteen but not realizing it had been so close to her coming out.

"So you haven't talked to any of them since they kicked you out?" Avery asked feeling like that would be horrible.

To be kicked out and never speak to your family again.

"Nope and I feel like if they wanted to contact me they would. Communication works two ways," Paisley told her sounding almost bittersweet. "Now stop talking about sappy past shit and listen to the nice music while I finish your hair."

Hmmphing Avery fell silent as she listened to Fleetwood Mac. "You know," she started as she talked again. "I got a record player the year I turned seventeen. It was a gift from Taylor and his wife Natalie. Now I'm trying to get all my favorite cd's in vinyl. Sadly I still haven't found Mirage or Rumours by Fleetwood Mac in vinyl. I keep dropping hints to my family I want them for Christmas this year but I don't think any of them get the hints."

Paisley laughed before leaning in to leave a light kiss on Avery's shoulder, "Well you could just tell them all that like you told me."

"Yeah but where's the fun in the mystery of finding out what I really mean?" Avery asked as she shivered once Paisley had kissed her shoulder.

"Guess you have a point there Hanson," Paisley agreed, Avery feeling her back away some. "Okay I'm done," she told her sounding almost nervous.

Which if she were nervous maybe Avery was too.

Taking a deep breath Avery turned her head to look in the mirror hanging close to he bed, smiling at her reflection because for once in her life she almost felt truly beautiful. A sheet around her naked body and her hair up in a braid with the girl she loved sitting behind her stark naked.

"I feel beautiful for once," Avery mused causing Paisley to lean in close, leaving another light kiss on her shoulder.

A kiss that she ended up trailing towards Avery's neck. "You're always beautiful," she whispered into Avery's skin as her hand slowly reached around, making it's way underneath the sheet and between Avery's legs. "Want to show you just how beautiful you are to me."

"Oh?" Avery muttered out through a moan. "And how do you plan on doing that?" she questioned as she turned her head some right as Paisley lifted hers so they were face to face.

"Plan on making love to you," Paisley whispered again as she moved to kiss Avery on the lips. Avery's eyes falling shut as she kissed her back.

Heaving a heavy sigh Avery moved from where she sat on the floor. Going to get her cell phone which she turned on, quickly typing a text to Cordelia.

Hey. Not sure I'm going to be able to leave the house today so you'll have to give me your gift tomorrow. Just blame my mom.

After sending the text Avery threw her phone down on the bed. Hating the fact that she didn't really feel guilty for fudging the truth with Cordelia.

Knowing she was only fudging the truth because she wanted to spend Christmas day in her room listening to Fleetwood Mac and remembering how she and Paisley had made love to most of the Rumours album.

Sitting in her room later that night, finding a way to play Silver Springs over and over again, Avery looked up when she heard a tiny knock on her door before Zac opened it and stepped inside. Carrying a plate of cookies as well as a glass of milk.

Avery raising her eyebrow as she watched him come to where she sat in the floor, sitting down beside her but leaving enough room that he could fit the plate and the cookies between both of them. Though Avery had the feeling they were all for her.

There was no way Zac would touch any of them with how he was being.

"Mom said you hadn't been down at all since you guys opened presents this morning," Zac told her as he looked her over. "Which isn't like the Avie I know even if you do have a tendency to hide at family events like I do."

Laughing Avery felt a few tears go down her cheeks, "Yeah well I had a crappy day getting lost in memories," she revealed as she slowly reached for one the cookies, taking a tiny bit.

"If it helps I had a crappy Christmas too," Zac told her which Avery wanted to ask him what happened but at the same time she also wanted to not dig too deep.

Not wanting Zac to feel like she was policing his life and feelings all the time.

"But I can always listen to what made yours so crappy," Zac added on in her silence.

Closing her eyes briefly after taking another bite of the cookie, Avery waited until she had swallowed to tell him. "Paisley sent me two Fleetwood Mac vinyl records for Christmas and I've been drowning in memories of her and our trip," she revealed as she reached for the milk.

Taking an almost long drink like it was alcohol though she knew it wasn't.

Zac fell silent at her confession, his brows furrowing some but even with the confused look he also looked like a sudden realization hit him. One he should have known all along.

"Paisley wasn't just your gal pal was she?" Zac asked as he reached for her hand with the tattoo on the wrist. "She was much more than that."

"Yeah, she was my girlfriend," Avery admitted feeling free to finally tell someone in her family what Paisley had been to her. "I'm...I'm dating Cordelia now but Paisley was my girlfriend."

"And the end of your friendship was really your break up?" Zac questioned though it was more of a statement because they both knew the truth.

Avery nodded her head in confirmation, "She supposedly cheated on me. Admitted to it and everything. Then in October she tried to take it back. Implies she never cheated and that mom had something to do with why she made me think she cheated and why we broke up."

Zac pursed his lips at that, "You don't believe her?" he asked sounding like he could believe her.

"I don't know what to believe," Avery told him honestly. "I just know Paisley makes it hard for me to move on from her. I mean for fucks sake I'm dating Cordelia but I can't be truly happy with her because I think...I think I still love my ex."

"Well I'm not the best at relationship advice but I can say it's best not to force something relationship wise when you feel it isn't right," Zac shrugged as he let go of Avery's hand finally. "It will just make you miserable."

"So says the guy who has been dating his wife since he was a teenager," Avery reminded him. "You and Tay really lucked out in not having to date much even if Tay got the shit end of the deal with his coerced into marriage thing."

Zac made a face at that, like he wanted to say something but he didn't. Instead he just sat with Avery in silence. Avery finishing the rest of the cookies. Though when she got to the last one she split it in half offering it to Zac.

Watching as he looked at it hesitantly, almost as if it was his enemy. But eventually almost reluctantly he took it and swallowed it.

Avery seeing that it was taking all he had to do even that. But she was glad he had at least tried. Made her somewhat crappy Christmas one percent better.

Chapter Text

December 2008

Cordelia frowned as she sat with Avery in the airport. Both of them drinking coffee as she had an early morning flight.

Neither of them not wanting to be up this early as they hadn't slept much the night before. Spent their last night together making love for most of the night instead of actually getting much sleeping down. Not that either of them regretted it then.

But maybe they regretted it now.

"I just hate that I'm leaving you on New Year's Eve," Cordelia frowned as she moved into Avery. "I won't get the traditional kiss most couples get on this holiday."

"Well neither will I," Avery reminded her teasingly as she leaned in to leave a soft kiss on Cordelia's cheek. "But I think you got enough kisses last night on every part of your body to do you over until whenever we see each other again."

Cordelia blushed at that information as she looked away from Avery, "I guess you do have a point there," she admitted before taking another drink of her coffee. "So what do you plan on doing by yourself anyway? I mean Junie's not here and I know you probably don't want to be stuck with just your family again."

"I was thinking of maybe going to that gay bar," Avery mentioned knowing she hadn't been there since that night with Carol.

When Paisley had admitted that she too had feelings for Avery and they had became official.

"So you're going to drown yourself in your feelings?" Cordelia asked with a raised eyebrow. "All because you can't kiss your cute as fuck girlfriend on New Year's Eve."

Avery nodded her head with a smirk, "Something like that," she spoke not sure if that was really why she wanted to go but she could convince herself that was it.

Was a better reason than going and just wanting to get drunk. Just wanting to forget that she was alone on a holiday. That her year had went from shitty to good to somewhat shitty again. That she still didn't love Cordelia like she should.

But she was hanging on like a stubborn idiot because she didn't want to hurt her best friend. Not when Cordelia had held her together for so long after her break up with Paisley.

After saying that it must have appeased Cordelia slightly, mainly because they fell into a comfortable sort of silence.

Only speaking every so often especially when Cordelia turned her cell phone on. Showing Avery funny stuff on the internet.

Doing that until Cordelia's flight was called and once it was called they both stood from their seats. Avery following behind Cordelia until they reached where she had to board. Avery pulling her into a tight hug.

"I love you Avie," Cordelia muttered as she returned the hug.

Avery freezing because she was sure Cordelia meant it more than a friend. The first time she had uttered the words since they had started dating.

"I know you do," Avery whispered hating herself that she couldn't say it back but she just wasn't ready.

Knowing if she said those words now it would be a lie which Cordelia didn't deserve. She deserved Avery to say them when she really meant them. Whenever that would be.

Cordelia must have noticed her lack of the words too because when they pulled away, Avery saw a flash of hurt in her eyes. One she masked quickly with a smile before uttering a goodbye and walking to get on her flight.

Avery standing in place until Cordelia was no longer in site. Only turning to leave after she could no longer see her girlfriend at all.

A bad feeling forming in her stomach. Like tonight was going to be bad somehow. Though she didn't know how yet.

"Hey Zac?" Avery questioned as she danced with him at his wedding. A slow song playing though at first it had been a more upbeat song but then it had turned into a slow song and he had pulled her into a dance before she could even pull away from him.

"Yeah Avie baby?" Zac asked her with a raised eyebrow like he was wondering just what she wanted to ask him.

Avery felt a pool of butterflies form in her stomach as she tried to think of a way to form her question.

"How did you know Kate was the one?" Avery questioned him finally as she locked eyes with him. "I mean how did you truly know you wanted to marry her one day?"

Zac paused at her words, "Is there a boy you fancy enough that you think you want to marry them one day?" he asked her a bit teasingly though he almost looked scared shitless at the idea.

Like he hadn't wanted to ever think of his sister getting married one day.

"God no," Avery denied sounding disgusted at the idea. Even if she was fifteen and it was ample time for her to start liking boys.

She just didn't and truth be told if she pictured herself settling down with a family she had never really pictured a boy.

An idea which scared her because she wasn't sure what that meant about her. Maybe she'd just be a single mom having a baby via artificial insemination or adoption. No man in sight because boys and men were icky.

"I just want to know so maybe I can spot it one day. Know when it really hits me that someone is the one," Avery clarified as she felt herself blushing.

Hating that somehow she had given Zac the wrong idea about why she was asking.

Zac seemed to ponder her words, like he was trying to come up with an answer. "Well I think it's different for everyone and it's going to sound cliche but just you know when you know. For me Katie's the only one who can handle my bullshit. As well as the bullshit from the fans. I didn't want to pass that up."

Rolling her eyes Avery only shook her head, "You sound just like mom. The you'll know when you know. I feel like I'm never going to know."

"You will Avery," Zac laughed looking amused. "It'll just hit you out of nowhere sometimes but you'll know."

"But what if it doesn't and I end up with the wrong person?" Avery questioned fearing that one day she'd end up married to some person only to find her soulmate way too late after she had already married someone else.

Which Avery wasn't the type of person who could just end a relationship when someone hadn't done anything wrong. That much she knew so she'd probably be stuck in a relationship that would never be truly complete if that happened.

"I don't think that will happen," Zac reassured her. "You're probably the smartest Hanson out of us all at times...well you or Jessie one."

Avery glared softly as she sat at the bar in the club. She had taken forever to get here. Only coming after it was dark, spending most of the rest of the day before coming here just aimlessly driving around Tulsa.

Doing anything to avoid going home but maybe she should have went home. Because right now she wished she had been anywhere but here.

Anywhere but drinking her..well she had lost count of how many drinks she had. Having had three the last she remembered counting. Ordering drink after drink after she had looked out on the dance floor and saw Paisley.

Back to her natural hair color and dancing and kissing some slutty looking brunette. Feeling like the sight had literally killed her as well as knowing it shouldn't have. Not when Paisley wasn't hers anymore and she wasn't Paisley's but it had.

It had hurt and opened wounds she was trying to forget existed. Wounds she was trying to cover with Cordelia sized band aids.

"You know," Avery slurred as she talked to the bartender who she had been talking to non stop now. "That woman over there is my future wife," she told him with a resigned little sigh as she pointed towards Paisley. "Just neither of us have gotten our shit together to realize it when sober."

The bartender only gave her an amused smile, "And I think you're way past your limit on alcohol."

"Maybe," Avery agreed as she batted her eyelashes. "But give me another drink. Just one more," she added on though she knew it probably wouldn't be her last.

"How about a no on what the lady just said," Paisley's voice spoke from beside Avery and Avery turned her head as she blinked slowly several times.

Surprised at how quick Paisley had gotten to where she was or that Paisley had even noticed that she was in the club.

"You're a party pooper Pai," Avery giggled out surprised that she had even been able to say all that. "A party pooper who is making the room spin."

"Yeah, pretty sure that isn't me and that you're way too gone to need another drink," Paisley spoke as she moved to put an arm around Avery. "Come on, get up I'm taking you home before you murder your liver."

Avery once again giggled but somehow she complied with Paisley. Letting her almost carry her outside as her legs almost felt like jello.

"I don't wanna go home," she whined because home was the last place she wanted to be. "Home isn't fun tonight. It''s just not fun anymore."

"I'm sure it's going to be lovely tonight," Paisley whispered under her breath as she slowed her walking when they reached the car.

Leaning Avery against it as she went to open the door. Though before she moved to help Avery in she put both hands on either of Avery's cheeks. Avery almost thinking she was going to kiss her and feeling disappointed when she didn't. Feeling disappointment when she spoke instead.

"Are you going to get sick?" Paisley questioned curiosity written on her face. "Because as much as I love you and as much as I find you really adorable I don't need you getting sick in my car babe."

Avery shook her head no, also feeling the urge to argue that Paisley didn't love her. If she had loved her she wouldn't be killing Avery while dancing and kissing someone else.

Then again though Avery had Cordelia....sweet precious lovable Cordelia.

"Good, now come on get in the car Avie baby," Paisley spoke as she reached out to help her. Avery doing nothing but complying.

Leaning against the seat and closing her eyes once she was in the car. Still not ready to go home. Though she knew she was going whether she liked it or not.

Chapter Text

January 2009

Avery groaned loudly as she sat up in bed, almost way too fast because she had to put a hand up to hold her head. Which earned a chuckle from somewhere in the room and Avery peeked an eye open to see Mac sitting in a chair in her room.

"What are you doing in here Mac and why are you laughing?" Avery asked softly afraid that if she spoke too loudly she'd make her headache worse.

Something she wasn't sure if it was possible but she didn't want to test her luck.

"Just laughing at you all hung over," Mac answered and Avery opened both her eyes now, not missing the fact that he didn't answer her first question. "You sure livened up our party last night. Probably beat being at the New Year's Eve one our brothers have for just them and their wives."

Furrowing her eyebrows Avery looked at him confused, "What do you mean?" she asked most of last night being a blank to her which again earned another chuckle from Mac.

"Of course you don't remember last night," Mac muttered as he moved from his chair and moved to the bed to sit down beside her. "You got trashed when you were out with your friends and then you came home and made a scene with mom and all her church lady friends who were in the kitchen with her. Proudly proclaiming your lesbianism in one of the best scenes I have ever witnessed in my young life."

Avery blushed at Mac's words the events from last night slowly starting to line up in her head.

"Oh man Avie, your mom is going to kill you," Paisley muttered as she held Aver up, helping her to walk towards her house.

Mainly because there was no way Avery could walk on her own. Not when the world was literally spinning and wouldn't stop.

"She'll kill me," Avery giggled out softly as she clung to Paisley more before burying her head into her neck. "But the jokes on her because I'm already dead inside," she whispered softly as she closed her eyes.

Just inhaling the scent of the girl whom she hadn't even expected to see tonight. But of course she should have known she would.

Should have known it the moment she decided to go to the gay club to celebrate New Year's Eve there to try to kill her loneliness over Cordelia's absence because who really wanted to spend a holiday where they were kissing people away from the girl they were dating.

So Avery had just hoped maybe going to the club would help her forget it and yet it didn't. Instead it had opened a new wound when Avery had seen Paisley from across the club, dancing with the girl who she could only assume was New York girl.

The one she had moved from Tulsa to be with and the one she had cheated on in October with Avery and so maybe Avery had drank a bit more than she planned too. Maybe she had gotten drunk enough that she could barely walk without help and somehow Paisley had just swooped in.

Like some knight in shining armor. Cutting her off before she could do anymore damage and offering to drive her home.

"You aren't dead inside," Paisley told her as they finally made it to the steps on Avery's porch and she heaved a sigh as they took them slowly.

Even going slow being a feat for Avery because besides the world spinning her legs just refused to budge much of their own accord.

Avery only hmmphed at that because arguing back would be admitting the reason that she was dead inside was because of Paisley. Seeing her with New York girl had hurt more than it should especially since Avery was dating Cordelia.

Really having no reason to be upset with what Paisley did or more like who she did.

Staying silent Avery opened her eyes again as they reached the door and she watched as Paisley used her free hand to ring the bell.

An action that made Avery giggle because she found the sound funny. "I never knew it was so loud," she muttered as she reached a shaky hand out to ring the bell again.

Another set of giggles coming out after she had done so.

Though Paisley didn't laugh all Paisley did was grumble something about how her mom would just use the second ringing of the doorbell against her or something like that.

When the door did finally open Avery watched as her father stood in the doorway, assessing the situation and from the corner of him she could see Zoe and Mac not far behind him.

Jessica probably also somewhere in the house but more than likely attached to Joe.

"Ave?" Walker questioned as Paisley pushed her way inside, her grip on Avery tightening some. "Are you okay?"

Paisley turned her head as she looked at Walker, giving him a tiny smile, "She just came down with something while she was out with the girls," she lied.

"I'm drunk," Avery blurted out not even caring that she'd get in trouble for this later. After all she was only eighteen so still too young to drink legally. "I'm so fucking drunk," she laughed as she pulled herself away from Paisley's embrace even if things were still spinning.

"And I need to sit or I'm going to hurl," Avery added on as she turned on her heel quickly, heading to the kitchen.

Listening as footsteps followed behind her and she was sure she'd take a guess as to who. Mac, Zoe and Paisley. Her dad probably still too stunned to follow her.

When she made it to the kitchen she came to a stop when she saw her mom and most of her church friends sitting around the table.

Drinking what looked to be punch, probably was but maybe spiked. Drinks sometimes always wound up spiked at their house.

"Avery?" Diana started her eyes traveling from Avery to a spot beside Avery. "Paisley," she spoke with such disdain as her face went a curious shade of white.

"Mom," Avery spoke almost too cheerfully as she made her way towards where her mom sat and when she reached her she slowly sat down in her lap.

Watching as her mom made a face when she realized the reality of the situation. That her daughter was sitting on her lap plastered in front of women she had to see at church.

Women who she wanted to believe that her family was perfect.

"I'm so glad to see you remember Paisley," Avery continued in everyone's silence. Knowing all eyes were on her. She could feel all of their stares. "The girl you hated because you thought she'd corrupt me. But you know it's the damndest thing I was already corrupted when I met her," she laughed as she slung an arm around her mom's shoulder.

Diana shook her head at Avery, "You don't understand what you're saying," she muttered out. "You're drunk," she hissed out softly trying to still hide what her friends had already deduced. What everyone who was watching her had.

"But I do understand what I'm saying mom!" Avery yelled out even though she was sitting right in her mom's lap. "I'm a lesbian. I love girls..I love kissing them and I love fucking them and I loved girls before Paisley even," she smiled sadly with a shake of her head. "I'm even dating Cordelia you know," she revealed watching as her mom's face turned to stone. "She was one of the safe lesbians right? I guess she isn't now though because I'm dating her and I love her I think though I'm still in love with Pai too," she muttered out.

Stopping only after saying that as she felt tears come to her eyes. Things slowly becoming a blur then though she was faintly aware of Paisley running into the room and getting her off her mom's lap.

Being helped up the stairs by Mac and Paisley, Zoe walking behind them only because Mac told her too. In case Avery went falling backwards.

Her eyes falling shut again the moment she was laid on the bed though she could hear faint voices. Mac and Paisley talking in hushed whispers though Avery couldn't make out a single thing they were saying.

Her world slowly falling dark.

"Oh shit," Avery muttered with a shake of her head. "I'm so dead. Mom's going to kill me."

Mac once again chuckled as he reached for Avery's hand, "Nah, she won't though she did tell me when she came in here to check on you this morning that she wants to talk to you downstairs in the living room whenever you wake up. I'm guessing you know about the whole lesbian bit."

"You think?" Avery asked sarcastically with a roll of her eyes.

"Just a guess," Mac teased with a sad smile. "So you..I mean you're really a lesbian and dating Cordy?"

Avery nodded her head in answer to his question.

"Does Cordy know you still love Paisley?" Mac questioned again and Avery went silent.

"No," she whispered knowing Cordelia didn't know she still loved Paisley. Would probably be devastated to know which is why Avery had no intentions of telling her. "Why are you even in my room?" she asked wanting to change the subject from her love life. Figured asking the question he had ignored would help change that subject.

Mac again gave her a sad sort of smile, "Because Paisley asked me to stay here before she left. Said someone needed to keep an eye on you and she couldn't because she had to get back to Misty," he shrugged and Avery guessed Misty was the name of New York girl.

Wishing she didn't even have a real name for the woman who was now dating the girl she still loved so fiercely.

"You know I think she still loves you too."

Avery let out a bitter laugh, "Yeah well sometimes love isn't enough Mac," she frowned knowing they couldn't just magically fix things even if they both still loved each other.

They were dating other people who didn't deserve to be hurt. Who had done nothing wrong.

"Just..can you help me out of bed so I can go talk to mom?" Avery asked him with a polite smile. "Need to face my death sentence now."

Mac moved quickly at that, helping Avery get out of the bed, "If she does kill you I can get your room right?"

"You'll have to fight Zoe," Avery told him as she laughed again this time sounding more genuine. "I think she wants this room too."

Chapter Text

January 2009

Making it to the living room where her mom was Avery entered it slowly. Noticing how clean it was and realizing her mom had probably cleaned it all this morning. Cleaning being something she did when angry. Avery realizing that if her mom did angry clean this morning it was because of her.

"Mom?" Avery asked softly and her mom who had been reading some trashy gossip magazine looked up at Avery expectantly. "Mac said you wanted to see me."

Diana nodded her head as she laid the magazine down, "I did," she confirmed narrowing her blue eyes. "I need you to retract what you said last night," she spoke not even seeming the least bit shocked.

"Retract what I said last night?" Avery asked not really sure if her mom was asking what she thought her mom was asking.

"The part about you liking girls Avery Laurel," Diana told her as if it should have been simple to know what she meant. "I was kind of hoping we could keep this phase in your life our dirty little secret, especially ever since I got rid of Paisley. Though now I guess you're going to have to cut Cordelia out of your life too. Then we'll go about finding you a good godly man."

Standing there in silent confusion as she listened to her mom, Avery crossed her arms and it was only during her mom's silence that she realized her mom knew. Especially when her mom had just said she had been hoping to keep this phase in Avery's life a dirty little secret more so after she had gotten rid of Paisley.

"You knew?" Avery asked not even once saying she'd agree to what her mom wanted.

Because in the end maybe it wasn't the perfect coming out to her family but she wouldn't trade it and just go back in the closet now that she was out.

Diana gave Avery a tight lipped smile, "I've known for months Avery Laurel."

"How long is months?" Avery questioned as she crossed her arms over her chest. Now remembering what Paisley had told her in Charlotte could have been the truth.

Maybe she hadn't cheated and maybe Avery's mom knew the real reason why they had ended. Why Paisley had let her think she cheated.

Diana heaved a soft sigh, probably trying to calculate in her head. "Five almost six months. Ever since July when Zoe saw you two in your room having sex and then in her confusion over why her sister was sinning told me everything she had seen," she shrugged as if this news was nothing to her.

Probably wasn't now because she had time to adjust but this news well it was new to Avery and it made her feel like she had been slapped hard across the face.

Puzzle pieces finally falling into place as she remembered walking in on a conversation between her mom and Zoe. The way Zoe had been so harsh and rude to her that morning and the way even now she still acted differently towards Avery.

How Paisley when Avery had gotten back to her room that morning had been off after a run in with Diana. Then had just left without saying goodbye.

Falling into the whole ignoring Avery routine and Avery hated how now it made sense to her. What Paisley had said in Charlotte about her mom telling her proudly what had happened and maybe she hadn't been lying at all.

She may have never cheated on Avery with Ellery.

"Zoe saw us and she told you?" Avery asked feeling and hearing her voice crack as she felt tears welling in her eyes.

Not wanting to believe that her sister would do such a thing. Yes she was nosy and yes she had a tendency to tattle but Avery had hoped that maybe Zoe would have came to her first. Talked to her before she ran to their mom.

Diana again gave Avery a tight lipped smile, "Of course she did honey. Zoe tells me everything because she loves me and she knows it's the right thing to do."

Avery went silent at that feeling the tears that had welled up in her eyes go down her cheek. "And what you confronted Paisley?" she questioned thought it came out more like a statement.

"We may have had a chat when she was leaving your room that morning and you were still in the kitchen with your sister. I may have told her that this was just a phase for you. That one day my precious daughter that I know and love will come to her senses and realize that she doesn't love girls and that Paisley should just leave you before you left her," Diana revealed as she stood from the couch and walking over to Avery. "I did everything in your best interest," she smiled softly as she reached out to touch Avery.

Avery though was quicker and pushed her mom's hand away feeling nothing but anger and a bit of sadness.

Especially when she realized for sure that Paisley hadn't cheated on her and she had spent months angry at her. Instead Paisley had found a way to leave her because her mom had somehow found Paisley's weakness and preyed upon it.

"I'm not doing it," Avery spoke refusing to let her voice crack again even though it wanted too. "I'm not going to go back in the closet because you want me too. I'm a lesbian mom and I've known that about myself for almost a year now and I'm only sorry you found out the way you did from Zoe and I'm sorry everyone else found out because I was drunk. I wish I could have came out to everyone like I did to Zac on Thanksgiving but I didn't and I'm not going back in the closet."

Diana sighed as she narrowed her eyes again at Avery's blatant disobedience, "Zac knew?" she asked not even trying to argue with Avery on going back in the closet.

Hopefully realizing it was a moot point.

"Yeah he knew," Avery smirked proudly. "Surprised he didn't run to you like a good child would?"

"I'm surprised he even still loves you so much," Diana spat out showing her true colors. "He knows what this means for you...for us as a family. We failed you."

Avery shook her head as she let out a sad little laugh, "Well he still loves me and he accepts mom. So even if you don't or no one else does I have my older brother and I have my friends and maybe that is all I need for now."

"Yeah well if you think that's all you need then leave this house Avery," Diana retorted as she locked eyes with Avery. "You can stay here tonight but leave tomorrow if you really want to blatantly live in sin and think you don't need anyone but Zac or your friends."

Feeling her eyes widen at that Avery felt more tears go down her cheek. A bit surprised that her mom was really kicking her out of their house.

"You're throwing me out?" Avery asked and this time she couldn't keep her voice from cracking.

"No I'm letting you leave since you don't want to follow the rules of our house and you're an adult now so we don't have to let you stay here," Diana continued as she kept eye contact with Avery. "Unless of course you want to admit to yourself that you're not really a lesbian and this is some phase."

Shaking her head no Avery wiped her eyes and turned to leave the room. Going upstairs to pack and then figure out something about leaving. Finding somewhere to stay until she could figure something out full time.

Sitting on the hospital bed next to her mom, Avery grinned happily as she looked down at the baby in her mom's arms. A baby that was sleeping contently.

"So what do you think of your baby sister Avie?" Diana questioned in a sing song voice as she looked down at her daughter.

Avery made a face as she reached out to touch the baby's hair or what she had of hair. "She's too bald right now to be considered a sister," she spoke which earned laughs from both of her parents as well as a few of her older siblings.

"She'll get hair one day," Diana reassured her. "Just like she'll be the bestest friend in the world that you'll ever have. Just like my older sisters are to me."

"Really?" Avery asked not sure if she believed that.

"Really," Diana told her with a wide smile. "But first I think she needs a name," she said as she looked around the room at all of her children. "Your dad and I were actually stumped on that and were going to ask you what you guys thought we should name her?"

Avery fell silent at that listening as her older siblings all shouted out names. Isaac choosing names of girls he had liked while Zac choose funny names just to make Mac laugh and Jessica suggested Barbie as in the doll. Holding up the doll she had in her hand as an example.

"Name her Zoe," Avery spoke up finally causing her mom and dad to both look at her curiously like they liked that suggestion. "She needs a strong name like me and Jessie and Zoe fits."

Diana and Walker both looked at each other after that sharing a tiny nod. Like the decision on her name had been made now.

It was going to be Zoe.

"Avery?" Zoe's voice sounded from Avery's doorway and Avery who was in the middle of packing turned to look at her baby sister. "Why are you packing?" she asked curiously like she actually cared.

Avery doubting that she did because if Zoe truly cared about her would she have really told their mom about what she saw with Paisley?

Wouldn't she have just came to Avery first because Avery had thought that was how sisterhood and being a sibling in general worked. That's what she had always done anyway, gone to her siblings when she knew things about them instead of going to her mom or dad.

"Because mom kicked me out," Avery answered her as she sat down on the edge of her bed. "She kicked me out because I'm a lesbian. Just like she's the reason Paisley broke up with me."

Zoe rolled her eyes at that, "Paisley was bad news," she stated sounding so much like her mom's clone.

"Is that what you were thinking when you told her you caught us having sex?" Avery mused as she glared at Zoe. "That Paisley was bad news so mom just had to know that I was having sex with her."

"Mom needed to know you were sinning Avie," Zoe argued back. "I was just trying to help you and help mom fix things."

Listening to her sister Avery felt another round of tears go down her cheek, "Yeah well it didn't help me Zobug because I'm a lesbian. I'm not sinning because I love someone. If being in love and having someone simply love you in return is a sin then send me to hell because I'll gladly go there than deny who I am. What I am...but because of you and mom I lost the one person who was actually making me happier than I had been in awhile."

Zoe fell silent at that as she looked down at the floor for a bit.

"You didn't seem happy," she finally spoke refusing to meet Avery's gaze.

"I wasn't happy hiding who I was," Avery said as she let out a tiny sob. "Afraid how mom would react if she knew I really loved a girl instead of a boy. Because I knew she'd take it badly. But I wasn't unhappy with Paisley. She was the one good thing in the whole god damn equation but since you couldn't come to me and had to run to mom I lost her and I'm just lost myself," she stated hating that fact.

That even though she had Cordelia she still felt like a person lost. A person who had no actual home because her home was dating some girl named Misty.

Zoe finally looked up at Avery, "Well I'm not sorry I told," she spoke sounding defiant even with the truth that Avery was hurting. "I'm not sorry for trying to save you from sin Avie."

"Of course you aren't," Avery spat out harshly feeling anger as she looked at Zoe as well as some regret. Regret that somehow along the way Zoe didn't grow up to be her friend like her mom had said she would. "You're going to be just like mom one day and I do feel sorry for you in that aspect," she sighed as she stood from the bed. "Now get out of my room so I can finish packing. I really don't want to see you right now or even know that you exist," she added on.

Maybe wanting to hurt Zoe some like Zoe had hurt her. But in the end Avery wasn't even sure if those words would hurt her sister.

Not sure if Zoe would ever feel sorry for what she had done. That unknowingly she had ruined one of the best things Avery had and now Avery had to rebuild her life without that. Had to find ways to move on all because her sister thought she was saving her from something that wasn't a sin.

It was just a loving relationship.

Turning her back after she spoke Avery went back to packing, listening as Zoe left the room and after she had left Avery hated herself some as she continued to cry.

Cry for everything she had lost in the past few months including her mom and her baby sister.

Chapter Text

January 2009

The next day Avery heaved a sigh as she finished loading up what she could in her SUV. Her dad at least doing something last night in pleading her case. Getting her mom to agree to let her keep most of her bigger items at the house until she found somewhere permanent to stay.

Mac promising afterward that he'd look after her stuff. Make sure their mom didn't do anything to it. A fact that made her love her brother a tiny bit more than she already did.

"So this is it then," Walker told her as he brought her the rest of what she was taking. Looking at her sadly as she loaded it into the back hatch, shutting it once the stuff was in.

"Guess it is," Avery told him as she blinked several times to fight back tears. "Pretty sure mom will be glad to see her sinner daughter leave," she spoke harshly with a shake of her head. "Now she can try to fix Zac's issues," she muttered out.

Everyone having been informed last night via a phone call with Nikki that Zac had, had a freak out at the New Year's Eve party. Avery feeling somewhat better because it meant not all the attention was on her now.

Even if she was sad for Zac and wishing she could help him but she really couldn't. Not when for the time being she was technically homeless.

She had no physical place to really call her own because her mom couldn't accept that she was a lesbian.

Walker frowned as he reached to pull Avery into him, "Your mom cares Avie," he told her trying to reassure her. "She just....she thinks this is best," he sighed like he didn't think it but of course he wasn't going to test her mom.

He was just going to go along and keep the peace. Something she wanted to hate him for but she couldn't. Not when he at least accepted her being gay.

Had told her as much last night after dinner. Told her she was still his daughter and he'd love her nonetheless.

"I don't see how this is best," Avery hiccuped as the tears she had been blinking back came out. Causing her to bury herself into the hug with her father. "What am I going to learn from this? There's nothing to learn about myself besides what I already know."

"I know baby girl," Walker told her as he held her tighter. But soon enough he pulled away leaving her feeling empty. "Where are you going to go? I mean you can't live in your car."

Avery reached up to wipe her tears away, "Pai is letting me crash at her hotel tonight," she revealed with a blush.

Almost glad that somehow even in her anger and sadness she had sent a text to Paisley telling her what happened. Paisley offering to let her stay tonight at the hotel she was staying at.

"Then tomorrow I'm going to Taylor and Natalie's to sleep on their pull out for a few days," Avery shrugged her shoulders. Glad that Natalie and Taylor had came through with letting her stay there. Even if they had told her it couldn't be forever.

Avery realizing that the main reason for that was because Natalie didn't want to get on her mom's bad side by providing Avery refugee for long.

"And after that?" Diana spoke up surprising both Avery and Walker who turned to face her. "You going to sleep in your car and realize that you can't make it on your own? Realize it's not worth being homeless for something that's just a phase even if it is a sin?"

"Then I'll figure something out," Avery told her mom who gave her father a look which made him turn and head inside.

Leaving them alone in the driveway.

"You'll come running back," Diana told her like she actually believed her words. "Maybe before you even spend the nights at Taylor and Natalie's. Going to Paisley's hotel room," she spoke rather scornfully. "Running to her like you think she loves you. She doesn't because if she did she wouldn't have left you just because I told her to. Told her to find a way to leave you so that you could correct your life and so you wouldn't hurt her first when realizing this thing. The notion you have in your head is a phase."

Rolling her eyes, Avery shook her head as she ran a hand through her bangs. Having worn her hair in a half ponytail.

"It's not a phase," she stated sounding confident. "Goodbye mom," she whispered hating when her voice cracked though that was her cue to turn away.

Getting in her car and starting it up. Her tears once again starting up as she pulled out of the driveway and drove away from her house.

Leaving behind so many memories and the place where she thought she'd always be welcome. Now realizing how wrong she had been.

Avery'd never be welcomed there again as long as she didn't go against what she was. Knowing she could never betray herself like that because she was done lying. Done denying how much she wasn't straight. How much she loved girls and how proud of this aspect of her life she was.

"You know I don't get why you and Junie think I'm gay," Avery spoke as she sat beside Cordelia in the treehouse that had been built several years back on her family's land.

A treehouse that fifteen year old Avery was probably too big to be using yet here she was. Sitting in one weeks after coming back from summer camp in Greece. A few days of good weather still looming and she wanted to take advantage of it.

Before it really truly turned into fall and it was too cold to come outside. Spend the night in this treehouse.

Cordelia raised her eyebrow as she looked at Avery almost flabbergasted. Leaving Avery confused as to why she would.

The answer to her question shouldn't have been that easy.

"You really don't remember?" Cordelia questioned her as if she were dumb.

Which made Avery feel slightly dumb of course. Even if she doubted that she truly was dumb at all.

Avery shook her head at that, "No I don't remember," she told her honestly watching as Cordelia's face changed.

"That party the day after you got back from Greece," Cordelia sighed as she moved a bit closer to Avery. "The one Junie was invited too thanks to her hanging out with the older crowd of people because she likes to pretend that she's way older than her age when the real thing is she just makes people fall in love with her extroverted attitude."

"Yeah I remember that party," Avery laughed softly. "It was full of mostly gay people."

"It was full of all gay people," Cordelia rolled her eyes at that. "In the end though Junie and I...we saw you kissing that girl on the balcony. We were coming to get you because her parents had texted her having a freakout since she lied about where she was and we saw you kissing a girl and decided to wait until you were done."

Avery blushed at Cordelia's words as she looked away from her friend. Knowing that of course she remembered the kiss. It had been her first kiss after all even if the person she had kissed was slightly drunk and ranting over how they had gotten into the first fight with the girl they were dating.

But no that had been a boy..Avery was sure of that. Down from the baggy clothes and the way he had one side of his head shaved. It was a boy.

"That wasn't a girl," Avery defended as she made a face because surely she'd have none if she kissed a girl. Would have known if her first kiss had been with a girl instead of a boy.

Cordelia chuckled as she reached out to pull Avery into her, "Junie and I have never seen that person before Avie but trust us. It was a girl and we're convinced you're a lesbian now because of that. That and you were kissing them so naturally. Like it was what your body knew how to do."

Blushing Avery only buried herself deeper into Cordelia. "P wasn't a girl," she told her not sounding so confident. Almost sounding ashamed now.

Ashamed and disgusted that maybe she had kissed a girl. Even if at the time it had felt natural. It was wrong a sin and Avery knew as much. Even if she knew she didn't really truly believe it could be that much of a sin. Especially not since her two bestest friends in the world were gay.

But it had been ingrained in her brain since the time she was little that it was wrong. It was wrong and how could she have not known.

"P?" Cordelia questioned as she held Avery a bit tighter. Avery wishing that she could stay curled into Cordelia's side forever.

Just to hide away from the shame she felt right now.

"That's what he....they....maybe she said her name was," Avery whispered as she felt tears forming in her eyes as she pulled away from Cordelia now. "It was probably short for something else but I never asked what," she spoke not feeling relief that she hadn't.

If she had she would have known it was a girl maybe but then again she had learned that the person's name was P before she even kissed them so maybe if she had questioned it she wouldn't have kissed them even if in retrospect the kiss had been amazing.

Everything Avery had felt a first kiss should be.

Cordelia frowned some as she looked Avery over, "You know it's okay if you kissed a girl Avie. I mean Junie and I do and we're still fine."

"It's not okay," Avery frowned as the tears finally went down her cheeks. "I'll get disowned by my entire family and maybe even sent to hell by God. So can we make a pact just to forget about that kiss. Just never talk about it again even if you are convinced I am a lesbian," she spoke as she wiped at her eyes. "Please."

Cordelia's frown deepened but she nodded her head, "Deal Avie....anything for you," she spoke Avery not missing how hurt she sounded.

Parking her car outside of the hotel where Paisley was staying. Avery stayed in it for several minutes as she pulled down her sun visor. Looking in the mirror long enough to make sure she didn't look too much like a mess.

After all she had been crying most of the way here and the last thing she wanted was to look a mess. Even if Paisley had seen her in different states of being a mess before. In this moment Avery just wanted to appear strong even if she felt anything but.

Closing the visor Avery took several deep breaths before finally getting out of her car and heading to the backseat where she got the duffel bag that contained some of her clothes.

The clothes that she'd make due with for now.

Slipping the bag over her shoulder she finally headed inside the hotel. Going to the room number that Paisley had given her and knocking.

Not even having to wait that long until the door was thrown open and she face to face with the girl who it seemed was always going to be forever entwined with her life.

"Hey," Avery squeaked out her voice cracking as a new set of tears went down her cheeks.

"Come here Avie," Paisley muttered as she reached out for Avery, pulling her into a hug as she lead her into the room.

Avery once again finding a way to hide her head in the shorter girl's shoulder as she cried harder. Half wishing she had been able to keep her calm composure.

"It's gonna be okay Avie," Paisley reassured her as she just stood in the hotel room holding Avery. "I promise you that."

Avery closed her eyes tight at that. Not sure she believed her words. Not sure if anything would feel okay again because how could it?

"How can anything be okay when I've lost most of my family Pai?" Avery questioned with a slight hiccup to her words.

Her crying getting worse when Paisley didn't answer her. Leaving Avery to know the answer wasn't that immediate not yet anyway.

Chapter Text

January 2009

Sitting with Paisley on the bed in her hotel room after she had calmed down, Avery looked at her with a sad little smile.

"You didn't have to let me stay here," she told her knowing Paisley could have turned her down. "I mean I'm sure Misty didn't like."

"Misty?" Paisley asked like she had forgotten her girlfriend, the woman she had been dancing with at the bar.

Avery nodded as she looked at Paisley as if she were dumb, "New York girl. The girl you claim to have an open relationship with," she reminded her. "Mac told me that's why you left on New Year's Eve. Mentioned having to get back to a Misty."

Paisley let out a loud laugh at that, "Misty isn't the girl from New York. Misty is my cousin and I left her at the bar to bring you home. The girl I was dancing with at the bar though I didn't know her name and as for New York girl she was named Paige. She's gone now though."

"You broke up with New York girl?" Avery asked refusing to say the girl's name. "How come?"

"Because she wanted a non open relationship and I couldn't give her that," Paisley answered as she locked eyes with Avery. "Not when she's not the one I love. She deserves someone who can give her that and fully love her too."

Avery swallowed hard, knowing that Paisley meant she was still in love with her. Even after all this time apart.

"Well I guess it's good you ended it then," Avery smiled though this time it was forced. Her brain going to Cordelia and wondering if she was short changing her in the relationship department because Cordelia wasn't the one she loved.

Yet she was refusing to give up, not letting Cordelia find someone who could love her fully. Love her like she deserved.

Love her like Avery wanted too.

Paisley shrugged her shoulders at that, "Guess so but it cost me an apartment. Had to go out and find my own. Which took me like three weeks."

"You stayed in New York?" Avery asked figuring that Paisley would have wanted to move back here to Tulsa. Come back to the place she knew.

"Didn't see the use in coming back when I wasn't needed here," Paisley told her as she kept eye contact with Avery.

Avery once again swallowing hard.

"My family besides Misty doesn't need me and you have Cordy now so you don't need me...."

"But I need you right now," Avery piped in before she could finish what she had been saying. "I need you now and maybe if you had been here I would have needed you before now. Don't say just because I have Cordelia that I don't need you."

Paisley once again shrugged her shoulders, almost like she didn't believe Avery's words. "We both know if Cordelia were the one in Tulsa right now you wouldn't be here in my hotel room. You'd be at her house," she spoke sounding sure in her words. "Does she even know you're here with me right now?"

Avery fell silent at that as she looked away from Paisley. "No," she answered with a shake of her head. "She doesn't know."

"And if she did, you know she'd be angry so no now that you have Cordy you don't need me," Paisley reiterated again. "Or more like she doesn't want you to need me and you'd do best to listen to her if you want to keep dating her."

Sighing Avery kept her gaze off Paisley, "She would get angry but she'd come around. She always does," she defended having her own doubts though that Cordelia would come around to this.

Instead she'd probably insist that Avery go to her parents for the night before she headed to Taylor and Natalie's tomorrow.

"You keep telling yourself that Hanson."

Chewing her lip Avery just fell silent again as she looked down at the bedspread on the hotel bed. Her finger going to trace the pattern.

The silence soon being broken when Paisley stood from the bed, "You should just go take a bath and change into your pajamas. I'll order take out while you do."

"Okay," Avery said her voice sounding so small.

Standing from the bed as well, she went over to her bags to get her pajamas out. Pausing as she watched Paisley sit down on the bed her cell phone now in her hand though before she could dial any number she turned to look at Avery and something in the room seemed to change when they locked eyes.

Something that made Avery feel bold.

" can take a bath with me if you want," Avery suggested the words slipping out before she could truly stop them. "Just a bath...nothing more."

"Just a bath?" Paisley questioned her a hint of something more in her tone.

"Just a bath," Avery confirmed with a head nod. Knowing deep down what that hint of something more was in Paisley's tone.

Avery wanting every part of what that something more entailed even if she shouldn't.

Paisley scrunched her nose up, "I shouldn't," she told Avery which to Avery wasn't exactly a no just yet. "You shouldn't want me too."

"But I do," Avery whispered out not even sure if Paisley could hear her. "Please," she added on before finally getting her clothes and standing up.

Turning on her heel without even waiting to see if Paisley followed behind her. Just hoping that she did because Avery knew even if things got sexual she just wanted the simple closeness of Paisley in the end. Just really missed that since October because it had been too brief.

Now felt almost like years ago when it hadn't been.

Making it to the bathroom, Avery slipped inside turning the light on. A tiny smile appearing on her lips when she watched as Paisley came in behind her.

Shutting the door after she was in. Avery feeling a bit more at peace now because she'd get to have Paisley close to her. She'd get to finally feel her naked body against her own again. One of the purest forms of intimacy in Avery's opinion.

Avery looked away from Paisley briefly as she moved to the tub to start the water and once it was running she began to undress.

Being aware that the whole time she did that Paisley was watching her even as she too undressed. A blush forming on Avery's cheeks.

One that grew when Paisley moved a bit closer once they were both naked, her hand landing on Avery's hip bone where the camera tattoo was at. Her index finger slowly tracing it which caused Avery to shiver just a bit.

Her eyes soon finding Paisley's as she she felt nervous. Wondering if Paisley remembered their conversation though she had to have remembered it. After all she had gotten the easel tattoo on her finger days before Avery got the camera one.

"It's beautiful," Paisley finally spoke as she gave Avery a sad little smile. "Suits you."

"Yeah well so does the one on your ring finger," Avery replied with her own sad little smile.

One that grew when Paisley moved her hand away finally. Leaving Avery feeling exposed in ways that didn't have to do with her being naked.

It was the vulnerable type of exposed.

Biting her lip softly Avery slipped into the bathtub after Paisley. Not sure why now all of a sudden she was nervous, maybe hoping she could chalk it up to the exposed feeling she felt earlier.

"You know I got the tattoo because of you," Paisley finally stated as she let her hands rest on Avery's hips, pulling Avery a bit closer to her in the water. "Wanted you to see how committed I was even if you still thought I had cheated."

Avery frowned at that, "I'm sorry," she spoke as she turned her head to look at Paisley some. "For not believing you when you said you didn't cheat."

"I get it though. Not wanting to believe your mom could be so cruel," Paisley told her as she shook her head. "Everyone wants to believe the best in their parents until they can't anymore."

"Yeah well I guess I had to learn that lesson the hard way," Avery told her feeling like a fool now. Feeling like this whole time she had just been played.

Her mom going around acting like she had no clue. All while knowing she was the reason Paisley was no longer around. That she had been the reason Paisley broke up with Avery, she was the reason her daughter's heart had been broken and she hadn't fucking cared.

Just like she hadn't cared when she kicked Avery out.

"Guess so," Paisley muttered as she inched closer to Avery.

Not even letting Avery say anything else before her lips were on Avery's in a kiss. A kiss that Avery knew was inevitable from the moment she had mentioned taking a bath with Paisley.

Knowing that the something more she had heard in Paisley's voice had been along these lines.

Avery soon kissing Paisley back despite all the reasons that she knew she shouldn't. Which well there weren't that many. Just one really big reason.

The fact that Avery had a girlfriend.

Sweet innocent Cordelia who had done no wrong except for the fact that she wasn't Paisley. Would never be Paisley and it was that alone which was why Avery was still kissing Paisley.

Even as one of Paisley's hands moved from her hip. Working it's way slowly down until it was between Avery's thighs.

Avery letting out a tiny moan when Paisley began to rub her. Her pussy which was already wet from the water soon getting wet in other ways. Ones which had nothing to do with the water and more to do with the hand which was slowly stroking her.

Teasing her in ways that she hadn't been teased in months.

More moans slipping out of Avery's mouth as Paisley continued to rub her. Though Avery soon bit down on Paisley's bottom lip, feeling Paisley slip a finger inside of her.

A finger that she began to move slowly in and out of her. Avery getting the distinct feeling that Paisley was liking teasing her tonight.

That teasing Avery was just something she needed to do for her own reasons. Which was why Avery didn't call her on it. Instead she let her tease her. Endured it as her hips began to move with Paisley's finger.

Her moans growing a bit louder as she pulled away from the kiss once Paisley added a second finger. Avery having to lean against Paisley's chest to stay upright or else she'd probably collapse right into the water and drown.

Drowning not seeming like a bad idea after all. Not after everything she had been through in the past few days.

"You like this?" Paisley asked her softly as her fingers finally started to thrust into Avery a bit faster...just a bit because of course she wasn't fully going to bend and stop teasing.

Paisley was just stubborn like that. Avery knew as much because after all this wasn't her first go around having sex with the girl she had once dated.

Felt like after so many times of having sex with her that she knew what Paisley was like, like she knew the back of her own hand.

Avery only offered an mhm which sparked Paisley to move down and bite into Avery's shoulder. Avery half sure that pretty soon she'd have a bite mark there.

"I didn't hear you Hanson," Paisley murmured her voice low and sultry. "I asked if you liked this?" she questioned again slowing her fingers.

Which caused Avery to whimper before she finally spoke.

"You know I do Pai," she said with a shake of her head. "I like it but I only wish you'd move your fingers faster. Just a bit."

Paisley laughed at that but soon obeyed what Avery wanted from her. An action that surprised Avery but of course she wasn't going to say that. Afraid that if she did Paisley would slow down just to tease her again instead of giving her what she wanted.

So instead of saying anything Avery let her eyes fall shut as her hips began to move with the pace Paisley was making with her fingers.

Her orgasm building up inside of her soon enough.

Paisley obviously catching the signs of it as she added a third finger inside of Avery. "Come on baby," Paisley beckoned her as she left a tiny kiss in the same place she had bitten previously. "Come for me....come on my fingers."

"Shit Pai," Avery grunted out softly as her orgasm finally hit. Her walls closing in around Paisley's fingers as her eyes shut tighter.

Her body going a bit rigid as fireworks or what looked like fireworks anyway exploded behind her eyelids. Her eyes opening slowly after everything.

Avery's breathing staying hard for a bit. Paisley soon slipping her fingers out of Avery though they stayed resting on her skin.

"You feel better now?" Paisley asked as she let her lips move to Avery's earlobe where she left a light kiss. "Orgasms make everything better."

Laughing Avery nodded her head some, "Maybe a bit," she answered before finally feeling okay enough to move away from Paisley. "Just kind of hungry," she spoke as her stomach choose then to growl. "So maybe we should actually wash off and then order in," she suggested with a smile.

"Sounds like a plan there Hanson," Paisley agreed before things fell silent between them.

Avery knowing that after they ate she wanted to return the favor. Give Paisley an orgasm as well. Which meant once again cheating on Cordelia.

The girlfriend she had in another state who was completely unaware that Avery had came out and been kicked out. Had no clue that Avery ran to the one person who'd always make her jealous. That she'd already gave in to her weakness for Paisley and cheated.

That she'd more than likely do it again before the night was through because it was Paisley. Things would never be simple when it came to her in Avery's life.

Chapter Text

January 2009

After eating the take out food that Paisley had ordered Avery slipped outside on the balcony of the hotel room cell phone in hand as she texted Cordelia. Who somehow must have heard about her getting kicked out because when she had turned on her phone during dinner she had found a text waiting on her from her girlfriend.

Asking how she was because she had heard through the grapevine that Avery had been kicked out. Wanting to know where her girlfriend was staying at.

How did you find out? Like who in the grapevine told you?

After sending that text Avery sighed softly as she pulled the hoodie she had stolen from Paisley closer to her body. Tonight being colder than the past few nights had been.

Which maybe Avery deserved to be cold, especially after so carelessly cheating on the girl she was now texting. Someone who hadn't deserved it. Had done no wrong.

Avery being convinced that Cordelia deserved better but also still wanting to try to be better. Even after being with Paisley and even after knowing she hadn't been cheated on. Feeling like she owed Cordelia for their last missed chance.

Owed it to her to try more so maybe after tonight when she left Paisley she'd tell the other girl that they needed to cut ties for good. That they just needed to say goodbye so that she could work on being a good girlfriend.

No matter how much they truly loved each other or the fact that they had the proof of that love and commitment tattooed on them.

Hearing her phone alert her that she had a new text Avery looked down, seeing Cordelia's response.

Nat told me which was a bit weird. I mean why did I have to hear it from Taylor's wife who I don't even talk to much but she was just telling me that you'd be staying with them starting tomorrow night. Which makes me wonder where you are tonight. Please tell me it's not your car.

It's not my car. I'm staying with a friend. I'm sorry you had to hear it from Nat first though. I would have told you but things have just been hectic. Crazy hectic.

I'm sure it has been. If I was there I'd let you stay at my house.

I know :(. I wish you were here Cordy.

I wish I was too. Maybe call me tomorrow. I just wanna hear your voice and know you are okay and not depressed.

I'm fine for now. Well taken care of so don't worry. But talk to you later babe.

Later. Love you so so much Avie.

Frowning at the last text that Cordelia sent her, Avery turned her phone off, laying it beside her on the concrete ground of the balcony. Feeling even more guilty at Cordelia's loving her as well as the fact that Cordelia didn't even question what friend that she was with.

Hating that Cordelia seemed to just blindly trust Avery.

"The girlfriend?" Paisley's voice sounded and Avery looked up from where she was sitting. Not even having heard Paisley come outside.

Avery nodded her head as she watched Paisley sit down beside her.

"Natalie told her about everything," she confessed as she ran a hand through her hair. "She was just worried about me."

Paisley laughed softly with a roll of her eyes, "Does your family besides you anyway not know how to keep secrets?" she asked with a bitter edge to her voice. "I mean I'm guessing someone found out about us too and ratted to your mom. Otherwise she wouldn't have confronted me the day after the Fourth of July when I was leaving your bedroom."

"Zoe saw us having sex and told her," Avery revealed as she made a face. "Still isn't sorry she told mom either."

"Of course she isn't," Paisley sneered out. "Always knew your baby sister reminded me of someone else in your family. Though I couldn't place who until now. She's your mom made over."

Avery shrugged her shoulders, "I hope there is still hope for Zoe. She's ten and she can still learn and grow," she defended even if she herself had told Zoe the same thing yesterday.

After saying that Avery reached for Paisley's hand, sensing that Paisley was a bit pissed from that revelation. A part of her just wanting to calm her down some.

The action of her taking Paisley's hand causing them to lock eyes and Avery squeezed her hand as she gave her a smile. "Tell me what you're thinking Pai."

Paisley took a deep breath as she squeezed Avery's hand back, "I'm thinking of how beautiful you look in the moonlight."

Sitting in a chair outside on the balcony of some random apartment in downtown Tulsa, Avery sighed softly not even sure why she had agreed to this. Coming to a party with a bunch of older people.

Lesbian girls at that mostly but then again maybe Avery did know why she had agreed. She had been gone to Greece for weeks and she had missed her friends. Hoping that by agreeing to come to this party she'd get to spend time with them.

Something that wasn't happening because both Juniper and Cordelia had found older girls to hang out with. Lesbian girls to entertain them while Avery was just well she felt like mashed potatoes really...or an odd third wheel.

Not sure where she fit in since she wasn't a lesbian and her friends were ignoring her for cute, older lesbian girls so she had found a way to sneak outside. Almost glad it was dark so no one could see her sitting alone like some pathetic loner.

Though a part of her was tempted to get her cell phone out and call her mom to come and save her. Knowing her mom would jump to do it. Even if it meant her mom finding out that her two best friends were lesbians. A fact she had been keeping to herself.

Afraid if her mom knew it wouldn't go well and Avery would lose Juniper who was like her sister as well as Cordelia who sometimes felt way more than that. Which confused Avery because how could someone be more than a sister?

Before she could reach for her phone to make the call to her mom though Avery froze when she heard the sliding glass door open. Turning her head slowly to see well she thought it was a boy coming outside. Looked like a boy anyway especially with the haircut and baggy clothes.

A fad most teenage boys wore to look cool and tough and to fit in. A fad Avery thought stupid but well maybe on this boy it didn't look too bad.

Then again maybe Avery was just desperate to see a male that she'd find the only male in a house party full of lesbians cute.

"Didn't think anyone else had bailed on the party yet," the unnamed boy spoke but Avery was surprised at how soft his voice was.

Making her wonder just how old he was...maybe his voice just hadn't changed yet.

"Friends kind of ditched me," Avery confessed with a tiny smile as she watched the boy sit down in a chair that was right next to hers.

Their shoulders barely touching which had butterflies building in her stomach.

"Your friends ditch you too?" Avery asked before the boy could say anything to her words.

The boy only laughed though it sounded bittersweet, "Girlfriend ditched me," he sighed with a shake of his head. "Didn't like the fact that I wasn't giving her all my attention."

Avery rolled her eyes at that, "But she doesn't have to worry," she told the boy with a tiny smile. "I mean everyone in there is a lesbian," she spoke not missing it when the boy just gave her a weird look.

But she didn't question it. Was afraid too almost.

"In fact I think she's an idiot for ditching you. I mean..." Avery stopped as a blush took over her cheeks not wanting to admit that she found this guy attractive. She didn't even know his name. "Never mind," she muttered with a shake of her head.

"No go on," the boy prompted as he rested his hand on Avery's arm and Avery felt goosebumps form on her skin.

Her blush growing even more.

"Maybe I find you attractive which is silly as I don't even know your name."

The boy only smirked at that, "My name's P," he told her which made Avery curious because she couldn't help but wonder what P stood for.

Was it short for Peter or Preston? Maybe even Paul.

But before she could even question it P spoke again.

"And it's not that silly," he whispered as he leaned a bit closer to her. Making the goosebumps from minutes before come back to Avery's arms. "No more silly than me thinking how beautiful you look in the moonlight," he told her before leaning in and kissing Avery.

The kiss taking Avery by surprise since it was her first and she hadn't pictured it happening like this. But then again she wasn't going to complain because it also was semi romantic especially with what P had just said to her.

Words she'd probably remember all her life.

"Oh," Avery muttered as she blinked several times before squeezing Paisley's hand back. A realization hitting her finally.

Something she probably should have realized a long time ago. Paisley had been P from the party and her first kiss had been with a girl.

"Oh?" Paisley questioned as she leaned a bit closer to Avery. Close enough that Avery swore she saw stars in Paisley's blue-green eyes.

Avery gave Paisley a smirk before speaking, "Just wondering how long you knew that I was the girl you kissed ages ago at some party?" she asked watching as Paisley returned her smirk.

The stars in Paisley's eyes shining just a bit brighter, "Realized it the moment you walked into the record store where I worked," she admitted with a sheepish look. "But since you thought I was a boy I wasn't really sure if you were straight or not. But the moment you walked into that store after I had, had another fight with Ellery it felt like fate."

"Yet it took you a whole year to even talk to me," Avery teased her as she leaned in to peck Paisley's lips softly. "A fucking year," she repeated keeping her face close to Paisley's.

"I never said I wasn't chicken shit even if I was bold enough to kiss you on that balcony," Paisley told her as she squeezed Avery's hand again. "It was only hearing your sexuality confusion that even gave me the balls to proposition you and I don't regret that actually."

"I don't regret it either," Avery told her before leaning in to kiss her again and this time it was longer than a peck.

Avery not being stupid. She knew they'd stay out here and kiss until they decided to make their way inside and she knew once they were inside they'd be sexually intimate again. Knew they'd do more than just Paisley fingering her.

She'd once again cheat on Cordelia and she didn't really want to stop it either right now. Which made her such a shitty girlfriend.

Maybe she would have just been better off being Cordelia's friend but she couldn't change things now.

Chapter Text

January 2009

Laying in bed that night, Avery opened her eyes as she laid beside Paisley. Unable to sleep because her mind wouldn't shut down. Wouldn't let her sleep. Not when she kept remembering that now she officially had no home. She was homeless and it was all because of her mom.

Her dad having been helpless because of course he'd never go against her mom in the end. Afraid of making her to mad at him and Avery understood that. She got it but even with that she was upset with her dad.

Feeling like in ways she had been abandoned by both her parents even if her dad swore he still loved her. Regardless of who she loved.

"Pai?" Avery asked softly not even turning to look at the girl whose arm was wrapped around her. Being her big spoon. "Are you awake?"

"I'm trying not to be," Paisley responded her voice low.

Avery laughed at that before slowly turning to face Paisley, "Me too but I just can't sleep," she confessed with a tiny frown. "My mind just won't shut the fuck up."

"And I can help with that how?" Paisley asked feigning innocence. Like she didn't know what Avery wanted when Avery was sure they both clearly knew what she wanted and they knew it well.

"You know how you can help," Avery told her as she gave her a playful glare, moving a bit closer until her head was on the same pillow as Paisley's. "I want you," she said so plainly.

Much too easy for someone who had a girlfriend several states away.

Paisley smirked at that information as she let her hand slowly go up the tank top that Avery had on, "You want me huh?" she asked still trying to sound innocent. "You know you shouldn't want that. Not when you have Cordelia," she spoke mentioning the girl Avery seemed to have lost all care for.

Which sounded harsh because of course Avery cared for her. She just didn't love her like she should. Didn't love her like a girlfriend yet she was too afraid of hurting her to let her go.

Even if cheating on her would hurt too but then again she never had to know about this did she? Never had to know Avery ran to Paisley briefly for the comfort Cordelia couldn't give her. Never would be able too even if she was here in person because well sadly she wasn't who Avery needed.

Avery needed Paisley in this moment. Because maybe she still saw Paisley as her home, her one true soulmate.

"I know," Avery whispered not moving an inch away from Paisley. "But I want you," she spoke with a small sigh. "Please."

Paisley's smirk grew at that as her hand went higher under Avery's tank top. Making Avery shiver at the contact.

But before Avery could do anymore begging Paisley leaned in and kissed her and much too quickly Avery responded back. Her eyes falling shut as she moved to turn on her back. Bringing Paisley with her so that Paisley was on top of her.

An action that lead to their hips moving together the more heated and desperate the kiss became. Both of them clearly wanting this despite knowing the one reason they shouldn't.

When Paisley did pull away from the kiss it was only to remove the top Avery had on and then her lips were back on Avery's. Kissing her sloppily for a few minutes before letting her lips move slowly down to Avery's neck. Making a trail down to Avery's breast which she peppered with tiny kisses.

Looking up at Avery with the same smirk from before.

"What?" Avery questioned before moaning right when Paisley's mouth went around one of her nipples sucking on it slowly and tortuously. Like she knew she was driving Avery up the wall.

"You just look really good," Paisley told her after she pulled away from sucking on Avery's nipple. "So fucking delicious."

Laughing loudly at that Avery felt a faint blush growing on her cheeks, "Delicious huh?" she questioned. "Delicious enough that you could eat me?"

"Right up," Paisley nodded her head before kissing just above the nipple she had been sucking on. "Do you want that? You want me to eat you?"

Avery chewed on her lip softly before nodding her head. Admitting what they both knew she wanted. She wanted Paisley between her legs and eating her pussy which was already so wet.

Paisley winked at her after that non verbal answer. Her lip attaching back onto the nipple an action that made Avery's head fall back.

"Fuck Pai," she muttered out as she lifted her hips up some. Almost needing a friction of some sort.

Anything to help the ache that was forming between her legs. An ache that only Paisley could cure in the end.

Paisley though if she could sense what Avery wanted wasn't showing it. Instead she was taking her time sucking on Avery's nipple. Sucking on it to the point Avery was whimpering and once she moved away from that Avery's whimpers died down only briefly.

Before Paisley attached her lips to Avery's other nipple giving it the same treatment as the first. Sucking on it and occasionally biting it. Making Avery's pussy wetter than what it was.

Avery wondering if Paisley was doing this on purpose. Doing this to delay what they both knew Avery wanted as well as just to delay everything period because once this was over and once they both fell asleep and then woke up tomorrow they'd part ways.

More than likely never seeing each other again. Avery going to Taylor and Natalie's for a few days at least then who knew what would happen from there and Paisley going back to New York where she now lived. She'd probably even eventually find another girl to date and fall in love with.

Not that Avery wanted to think about that though. Hated the idea of Paisley dating someone who wasn't her in the end still. Which made her a hypocrite since she was dating Cordelia.

When Paisley finally removed her mouth off Avery's second nipple Avery bit down on her lip as she watched Paisley kissing down her stomach. Only stopping when she reached the hem of Avery's pajama pants which she pushed down along with Avery's panties.

Her lips moving to leave light kisses on Avery's hip bones once she was fully naked and Avery let her eyes fall shut at that. Sucking in shallow breaths the closer Paisley got to her pussy.

Avery let out a loud moan when Paisley's lips finally reached her pussy. A place where Paisley left light little kisses before licking at the wet flesh. Leaving slow long licks. Like she was trying to savor Avery's taste. Remember it when she didn't have it again.

A thought that was one Avery also didn't like. Hated just thinking of not being with Paisley again yet she knew it was a reality that would happen.

"Pai," Avery moaned out as she opened her eyes and looked down at the girl between her legs. A girl who didn't stop what she was doing even as she locked eyes with Avery.

Instead she kept licking at Avery slowly easing a finger inside of her and beginning to fuck her with it. Letting it thrust in and out of Avery about as slow as her licks where. Clearly doing everything to keep Avery's orgasm at bay and clearly she was succeeding.

Letting Avery get just close enough before slowing things down and Avery couldn't help but whine even if maybe now she wasn't sure she wanted to orgasm just yet. Wanted to just keep Paisley like this for as long as she could.

"Love you," Avery whispered out as she kept her eyes locked with Paisley's. "I love you so much Paisley."

Paisley moved away at that, "I love you too," she spoke sounding almost sad to say those words and after saying them she went back to licking at Avery's pussy, soon adding a second finger inside of her as well.

Which with the addition of the second finger no matter how much both of them wanted to hold off Avery's orgasm it came.

Avery arching her hips up slightly as it did. Paisley's name as well as the words I love you leaving her lips one more time. A lump forming in her throat but she refused to cry. Not during a moment like this because what idiot cried after getting oral sex?

Anyway she had cried entirely too much in the past few days and didn't want to cry anymore. Hated feeling weak with how much she had cried.

Paisley eventually moved out from between Avery's legs after her orgasm subsided and she laid back down beside Avery.

"Are you okay to sleep now?"

Avery nodded her head as she looked at Paisley. "I think so but I mean...I can return the favor if you want me too," she spoke not sure it was fair she got to orgasm twice because of Paisley and Paisley hadn't gotten off once.

Shaking her head Paisley avoided Avery's gaze, "I'm good," she told her though Avery suspected she wasn't. But Avery knew better than to question her on it.

Probably wouldn't like what she said or so she had a feeling anyway.

"Okay," Avery sighed as she moved a bit closer. "But you can at least sleep naked if you want or I could get dressed if it makes you..."

Paisley leaned in then to kiss Avery on the lips. An action that Avery felt was to shut her up which well with that feeling Avery stayed silent when Paisley moved away from the kiss.

"I love you but just we shouldn' have a girlfriend and I'm not stupid Avie," Paisley said as she smiled though it wasn't genuine. "I know you don't intend to break up with her even after everything and I don't want to play myself. Don't want to have you do things for me and convince myself it means something because I'm not sure it does. Not when you are still with her and lying to her regardless of everything."

Avery swallowed hard as Paisley spoke. The lump in her throat growing just a bit bigger but again she still refused to cry.

Even if she hated that Paisley clearly felt Avery was using her because that was the farthest from the truth. Avery wouldn't ever use Paisley. If anything it was Cordelia she was using and she knew that. Just didn't want to break her best friend's heart just yet by ruining what Cordelia had wanted for ages.

"O..okay," Avery said again as she nodded her head. "Goodnight Pai," she whispered before turning away from Paisley and closing her eyes and the moment she felt Paisley turn away from her. Not even putting an arm around her Avery let her tears that she had refused to let come out earlier, come out.

Crying silently as she drifted off into a restless dreams. Dreams filled with mocking from her mom and accusations from Cordelia in which she felt like a horrible person.

Chapter Text

January 2009

Avery who had been awake now for the past hour chewed on her lip as she sat in a local Starbucks not far from Paisley's hotel.

She had came here after waking up and seeing Paisley still sleeping beside her. Not wanting to wake her Avery had taken a quick shower and grabbed her stuff. Leaving Paisley's room and then heading to her car. Whereas luck would have it as soon as she reached it she had gotten a text from Kate.

A text where Kate had asked Avery if she would like to meet for coffee as well as maybe a bite to eat and of course Avery had agreed. It wasn't like she had much else to do right now.

It was still pretty early and she didn't want to head to Taylor and Natalie's yet. Not sure if their kids were up as well as not sure how much sleep they had gotten last night either. After all they still had a newborn in their house.

Though Avery was surprised Kate wanted to meet this early since she had Shepherd and then of course there was also the stuff with Zac.

Her dear older brother who had also had a breakdown on New Year's Eve like she had because of course he would. They were cut from the same cloth after all it seemed.

But maybe that was why Kate wanted to meet. To talk about Zac because if anyone could understand or relate to the worry she felt it would be Avery.

Avery knew this because hadn't she despite her own issues been worried about Zac for months now? Still was but because of her own predicament right now she couldn't be there for him. Knew if she was he'd see through her facade and realize how bad things were and the last thing Avery wanted to burden her struggling brother with was the fact that she was homeless.

Had been kicked out by their mom while their dad had just looked on helplessly. That Zoe had betrayed their siblinghood in childhood innocence and a naive love and trust placed in the hands of their mom.

It was all sad really and Avery sometimes wished she could just go outside and scream at the top of her lungs. Scream and maybe it would make her free.

Then again maybe it wouldn't and she was forever destined to be trapped somehow.

Coming out of her thoughts Avery picked up the iced latte she had ordered a few minutes ago as she glanced down at her phone. Knowing from the time Kate should be getting here any second. Kate was usually good at being on time which was a stark contrast from most of the Hanson's.

Avery usually included because majority of the time she was just too lazy to get anywhere on time. But of course today she had gotten here first.

Partly because she did have nowhere to be. Though her brain did tell her that she could have stayed in Paisley's room until Paisley woke up but after last night and the things that had been said before bed she just didn't want to face her.

Afraid of what else Paisley would accuse her of and still feeling hurt that Paisley thought she'd carelessly use her when from the two tattoos on her body it should have been known she wouldn't. But if she wanted to think it then Avery decided to give her that by doing what she had done today.

Even if she longed to be in her room. Just to tell her how hopelessly in love with her she was. In love with her when she should have been in love with her girlfriend.

Once again though Avery came out of her thoughts this time though it was when she saw Kate come inside. Baby carrier in her hand and a bright smile on her face. A smile that didn't seem to falter even with everything she had to be going through.

Something which Avery had to say was brave of her. For her to stand there and act and act so well. Then again Avery wondered if she had learned that from the Hanson's since all of them were experts at acting or if Kate had been doing it long before she married Zac.

Zac had for sure had his issues before Kate. Avery knew as much even if she didn't want to admit it sometimes because despite his weaknesses she liked to see Zac as her tough older brother instead of a man who had a tendency to be human and have weaknesses.

"Hey," Kate spoke as she came to where Avery was. Sitting the baby carrier on the table. "Can you watch Shep so I can order? I would have left him at home but I'm not sure..." she trailed off stopping mid sentence though Avery suspected what she was going to say.

She hadn't been sure if Zac was capable of handling his own son for a few hours by himself.

Avery gave Kate a small nod. All the permission the brunette needed to go to the counter and place an order. Avery smiling softly as she looked into the baby carrier at her nephew who was wide awake and staring up at her with his brown eyes.

The almost eight month old baby being a perfect mix of Zac and Kate already.

"Hey there chipmunk," Avery cooed down to Shepherd before moving to slowly get him out of the baby carrier. Holding him firmly in her lap as she sat down. "Yeah it was no fun in there was it," she said when Shepherd smiled up at her. "I'd hate to be confined in that thing too."

Shepherd only smiled more his brown eyes lighting up as he just listened to her talk. His smile doing wonders for her soul and sometimes maybe babies really could help things. Except to save marriages like some fans were still convinced Taylor and Natalie's kids did.

Looking away from Shepherd when she heard Kate sit down in the seat across from her. Avery noticed that her smile had disappeared just briefly before she realized Avery was looking at her and then she put it back on.

"I'm sorry if this was last minute," Kate started after taking a drink of whatever coffee concoction she had gotten. "I just...I heard what happened and I guess I wanted to make sure you are okay," she said not even once saying what it was she had heard.

Then again maybe she figured Avery being kicked out was a touchy subject for her and she was afraid to say it or maybe she was in denial that her mother-in-law had done it and saying it would make it more real to her.

Avery shrugged her shoulders as she reached for her iced latte again. Taking a tiny drink and being careful to keep it out of Shepherd's reach when she put it back on the table. "I'm as good as can be expected. Actually am going to Taylor and Natalie's after this. They agreed to house me for a few days anyway but not for long. I think Natalie's afraid mom will find out and get mad."

Kate let out a sigh at that her smile slowly turning into a small frown. "If I could I'd let you stay with us but just with Zac I don't know..."

"No, I don't want to burden Zac with this yet either," Avery interrupted as she shook her head. "I was actually going to ask you that if he doesn't know yet to keep it a secret. At least until he is emotionally ready. It could make him worse and he doesn't need that."

Kate paused before taking a drink from her coffee and then reaching for the muffin she had ordered. Obviously doing anything to distract herself from talking.

"It's going to be hard to hide the fact that his sister got kicked out of the family home because she's a lesbian," Kate finally spoke with a shake of her head. "You know Zac and heck you know this family. Nothing ever stays a secret for long."

"My sexuality did for a good few months anyway," Avery added with a tiny smirk deciding she may as well make light of the situation. "Zac knew the lesbian bit though so all you need to keep from him is the kicked out bit if you can. Maybe have a group meeting with everyone...tell them for Zac's mental health to keep it as mum as possible."

Pursing her lips Kate looked as if she was thinking over Avery's words. "Fine," she relented with a nod of her head. "I'll think of someway but he is going to have to find out somehow," she added on and the way she stared at her reminded Avery of the way her own mom used to look at her for keeping secrets she didn't think Avery should keep.

Avery liked to call it the judgy mom look.

"But I'm not surprised to hear that my husband knew you were a lesbian before everyone else," Kate continued in her silence. "I take it you told him yourself?"

Avery nodded her head as she looked down at Shepherd who had rested his head contently against her chest. "I told him on Thanksgiving," she admitted. "Besides my friends he was one of the first people I came out too. The first family member who I came out too on my own anyway," she sighed.

Hating the fact that Zoe had caught her and she had been outed that way to her baby sister who had then ran to their mom.

It was almost as bad as when the fan took pictures of her in the gay club.

Kate smiled as she took that in. "I also take it you dated Paisley too," she spoke. "I mean everyone knows you're dating Cordelia but no one has really mentioned Paisley and you two were so close. You got matching tattoos and everything."

"Of course mom somehow scrubbed Paisley out of my disaster of a coming out at the party," Avery chuckled though it was a bitter chuckle. "But yeah I dated Paisley but then mom found out in July and that was when we broke up. Mom pulled some strings and things got complicated. After that I got close to Cordy and now we're together."

Again Kate frowned as she finished off her muffin. "I'm sorry," she apologized clearly having no reason too though. "You should have been allowed to be happy with who you wanted."

Avery let out another bitter chuckle, "Yeah well clearly mom was more scared for my soul than my happiness. But it is what it is, yeah," she nodded her head. "No one can change things," she told her sister-in-law honestly.

Avery knowing that she sometimes wished she could go back in time and change things. Lock her door maybe on that Fourth of July night. Stay in the room a bit longer with Paisley that morning or insist Paisley go to the kitchen with her even if that had meant waking her up.

"I know that so well," Kate added on sounding almost sad and now it was Avery's turn to frown. Part of her wondering if Kate's was referring to Zac and also wondering if Kate was like her and wished she could go back and change things.

She probably did Avery considered. Everyone had to have wished that at some point.

Staying silent after that Avery just looked down at the baby boy in her arms. A reminder that sometimes there were pure things even in the bad. Shepherd had to be one of those for Kate and Zac even if Zac did have ongoing issues.

Kate too more than likely had issues after all she had once lost a baby and Avery wondered if that still stayed with her or if that tainted her somehow. Like how this situation with her mom and sister had tainted Avery. Made her realize that even family was expendable to some.

"Well," Kate sighed as she broke the silence. "I better get going. I don't feel right leaving Zac alone still yet and it's almost time for Shepherd's nap."

Avery nodded her head as she watched Kate stand. Handing Shepherd over to her after she had walked the few inches to come and get her son. "Tell Zac I said hello and that I love him," she said as she moved to give Kate a quick hug. "I love you and Shepherd too," she added on for good measure before pulling away.

Forcing a smile she then grabbed her almost empty iced latte cup and and headed to the bathroom. Throwing the cup away on her way to the bathroom.

She didn't actually have to use it but she did want to freshen up again before heading to Taylor and Natalie's house. Maybe also delay it because she knew once again she'd probably have to chat about what happened as well as her sexuality and she just felt so nervous and annoyed.

Almost again wished she was still back in that hotel room with Paisley.

Leaving the bathroom almost ten minutes later Avery who was almost to the door stooped briefly as her gaze went to a table not far from the door. A frown settling on her face at the familiar brunette sitting there currently looking through some book about photography.

A brunette who looked up once she felt Avery's gaze and the moment she did Avery frowned deeper as she locked eyes with Paisley.

The girl who thought she had just been using her. The girl who she had walked out on this morning without even waking because she had been hurt by that accusation and out of spite wanted to just act like she had been using Paisley like she suspected.

Swallowing a lump in her throat Avery only gave her a brief nod as if she was some stranger instead of the person Avery swore would always hold her heart regardless of everything.

After giving the nod she finished her walk to the door. Leaving the Starbucks as she headed to her car. Her phone which was in the pocket of her jeans vibrating and as she reached to pull it out she couldn't help the tiny hope it was Paisley texting her.

Asking her to come back and they could make up whatever tension was now between them. But of course that tiny hope was squashed when she saw the notification that she had a text from Cordelia. The girl she should have loved. The girl she had cheated on without even caring.

Opening the text Avery read it over hating the guilty feeling that settled in her stomach.

Hey. I know it's early for me but I just didn't sleep well not knowing where you are staying until you get to Natalie and Taylor's. Please call me whenever you can or text. I'm just a really worried girlfriend and I love you. We'll figure something out together I promise.

After reading the text Avery put her phone back in her pocket once she reached her car. Deciding she'd text Cordelia back when she arrived at Taylor and Natalie's.

But god she hated the guilt she felt. Wasn't sure she could handle talking to her on the phone. Hated that she also didn't want to figure something out about her living situation with her girlfriend but in the end she really had no other option.

She didn't want to bring Juniper and Calliope into this mess though she was sure Cordelia or even Paisley had told them. Nothing ever did truly stay secret in Avery's life no matter how much she tried to keep it that way. Which was why she was afraid that eventually Cordelia would know exactly where she had stayed last night.

That Cordelia would find out that Avery had cheated something she didn't want to happen. Even with the guilt she felt.

Chapter Text

January 2009

Avery let out a small sigh as she sat outside of Taylor's house that night after dinner. Having snuck outside because she hadn't wanted to get wrangled into helping Natalie get the babies ready for bed.

While she loved her niece and nephews getting them ready for bed was tiring and she wasn't ready for that fight. Not yet anyway.

So instead she had opted to sneak outside and stare at the sky. Trying not to get too lost in her thoughts because the last thing she needed was to feel sorry for herself again and the predicament she was in. A predicament she could have avoided had she not even came out at all since it seemed her mom was okay ignoring her being a lesbian until now.

Though Avery found even with this horrible predicament that she didn't regret the fact that she was out now. Feeling a bit more free despite being homeless.

Knowing she no longer at least to her family had to hide such a big part of herself. But she wasn't sure she was ready to tell everyone. Like her brother's fans even if they had already semi outed her months ago.

"There you are," a voice spoke and Avery turned her head, seeing her brother coming outside. A cigarette between his fingers and an ashtray in his hand. "Was looking for you for a bit."

"Snuck out here because I didn't want to help your wife put the kids to bed," Avery whispered as Taylor sat down beside her. "Think you can keep my location a secret until the kids are all in bed?"

Taylor nodded his head as he rolled his eyes playfully. "Pretty sure we're good on your location being a secret," he said before taking a drag off his cigarette. "Not like I can blame you for skipping out on helping with bedtime. It's probably the one time I try to ignore my daddy duties."

Avery snorted a laugh at that. Having to bite her tongue from saying that sometimes it seemed like he ignored his daddy duties at more than just bedtime. But of course she knew better than to say that especially when he was letting her stay at his house for a few days.

The last thing she needed was to lose that when she really had nowhere else to go.

"I'm sorry," Taylor spoke in her silence after her laugh and Avery raised an eyebrow in confusion. Something Taylor must have saw because he clarified what he meant. "I mean for the fact that I can't let you stay longer than a few days."

"It's fine," Avery told him as she shrugged her shoulders. "I know it's probably because of Nat."

"She doesn't want mom to get mad at her," Taylor told her confirming what she had suspected. "You know how mom is. Everyone just....they do stuff to make her happy or keep her in the dark when they know it will disappoint her."

Again Avery snorted a laugh, "Don't I know that," she sighed because up until New Year's that had been her. Hiding the fact that she was a lesbian just because she knew her mom would react the way she had. That she'd disown Avery.

But even in her worst fears Avery hated that she hadn't once thought of the idea that her mom would actually kick her out. Maybe if she had she could have been more prepared in places to stay. More prepared to feel the things she was feeling which was mainly like a lost little girl.

A lost little girl who had no home.

"Yeah I guess you do know that," Taylor agreed as he looked down and away from Avery. Taking a few more drags off his cigarette. "Better than anyone else in this family right now," he added on after a bit. "Pretty sure if I could have kept her in the dark about Natalie I would have."

"A pregnancy is hard to hide though sadly," Avery finished for Taylor as she gave him a playful smile. "But you handled mom's disappointment in you well."

Now it was Taylor's turn to laugh and Avery hated the fact that he sounded as bitter as she felt. "I think the disappointment I had in myself was the hardest to live with actually," he told her and Avery was surprised by his honesty.

She was sure this was the most Taylor had ever opened up to her. Then again it wasn't like she had ever opened up to him much either.

"Are you still disappointed in yourself?" Avery questioned him deciding to take advantage of the fact that he was being honest now.

"No," Taylor answered quickly and Avery was left wondering if he was being honest. Partly because he didn't sound too convincing. "Are you disappointed in yourself?" he mused turning the tables quickly on Avery. "Not for being gay because personally I don't think that's something you should feel disappointment over Avie," he added on sounding like he was trying to reassure her.

As if he thought she needed reassurances on her sexual identity.

"I'm disappointed in myself on a lot of things," Avery told Taylor honestly. Knowing it was true in some ways. She was disappointed on how many lies she had told over the last year, the fact that she was still telling them. She was disappointed that somehow she had missed how far gone Zac was in his eating disorder even if she had known he had one.

"But I'm not disappointed in being gay," she finished with a shrug of her shoulders.

Taylor nodded as if he accepted her answer though Avery wasn't sure he truly did. "Just....if you ever are disappointed in yourself for being gay or you know feel really low and plan on doing something stupid can you...can you talk to me first?" he asked her sounding sincere. "I know you lied to me as well about your sexuality," he said bringing up the time he had confronted her over the pictures. "But I feel like I'm losing one sibling in Zac and I don't want to lose you either."

Falling silent Avery just eyed Taylor curiously wondering where all this sentimental stuff was coming from. Especially the part where he cared about her mental health and if she did something stupid.

Avery knowing what he meant. He was referring to suicide more than likely. Probably because he knew the statistics. People who were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender were more than likely to commit suicide. Even more so after being shunned by their family.

"You won't lose me," Avery told him as she pasted on a smile. Things once more falling silent between her and Taylor and for once Avery took comfort in the silence.

It was better than whatever heart to heart she had just had with a brother who was most often times a mystery to her. Someone she wasn't sure she'd be this open with again.

It felt odd and like she was betraying Zac somehow. But maybe it was better she did have this moment with Taylor since she didn't want to burden Zac.

After a while of just sitting in silence, Taylor must have deemed their conversation or bonding experience over as he finally stood. Heading inside without another word to Avery and she just watched him leave.

Not sure if she was ready to head back inside just yet. So instead she stayed in the place where she was sitting.

Hearing her phone ringing Avery who had came back inside some time well after midnight, opened her eyes as she saw the sun coming through the windows in the living room.

A groan coming out as she reached for her cell phone before the offending object woke anyone else in the house up. Because the last thing she wanted was Natalie mad at her because she woke one of the kids too early.

Avery being half sure Natalie hadn't gotten much sleep last night. She had after all been awoken once when Viggo had, had a crying spell and when she had checked the time on her phone then it had been four in the morning.

"Hello?" Avery asked into the receiver without even checking the id or the time. Though it couldn't be no earlier than six or seven in the morning if the kids or her brother Taylor hadn't woken up yet.

"Oh Avie," an all too familiar voice greeted her. "I'm glad you're awake. I just had a brilliant idea and I thought I should tell you now instead of waiting until later and I got too chickenshit or something because I mean it's me. I get chickenshit all the time with most things."

"Cordy," Avery sighed not even telling her that she hadn't been awake until Cordelia called. "Are you drunk?"

Cordelia laughed softly, Avery having a vivid image of her shaking her head no. "I'm not drunk," she denied. "Just sleep deprived and worrying about my girlfriend."

"You don't need to worry about me Cordy," Avery told her again feeling guilt for the fact she had been with Paisley yesterday. "I'm fine, I'm at Taylor and Natalie's now."

"I know I know but I'm going to worry until you find a permanent place to stay which is why I am calling. I may have found you somewhere to stay."

Avery raised an eyebrow as she sat up on the couch. "You found me somewhere to stay in Tulsa? All the way from California."

"Well where you'd be staying isn't in Tulsa," Cordelia told her sounding sheepish. "I was thinking that you could come and move to California. Live with me. You can even go to college here. My college has an art department for god sakes or if not mine California has other art schools. Just come out here Avie."

Swallowing hard Avery did her best to ignore the guilt which just kept building. Not going away at all, especially not when Cordelia had sounded so desperate in wanting Avery to move out there with her.

"That's a huge step Cordelia," Avery told her as she chewed on her lip. "We've only been dating since October."

"But we've been friends for longer and it just seems right," Cordelia countered seeming like her mind was made up.

Which Avery should have known after all it had to be really really early in California and she was calling Avery that early just to tell her so she didn't chicken out.

Chewing on her lip Avery took several deep breaths as she thought over her next words carefully. Not wanting to upset Cordelia right now. Not when it seemed she didn't have very many people on her side.

"C...can I have a few days to consider this?" Avery asked softly afraid that the words she had chosen in the end would send her girlfriend into a tail spin. "Please."

Cordelia went silent at that, Avery wondering if she hadn't expected this response from Avery. An idea which was crazy because surely she had to know Avery was practical. She wouldn't just jump at an idea that seemed half thought of.

Then again she had numerous times with Paisley so Cordelia could have thought she would. But Paisley was different, she'd always be different.

"Yeah take all the time you need," Cordelia finally said and after she muttered those words the line went dead. Avery frowning as she ended the call on her end too. A tiny sigh coming out of her mouth as she leaned against the couch even more.

Feeling awful now because it was apparent that even though she had tried to avoid hurting or upsetting Cordelia she obviously had anyway.

Keeping a hold of her phone Avery lifted it back up as she looked down at it. Going to her contacts and finding Paisley's name, clicking to compose a next text. Her brain telling her she shouldn't text her but her heart winning out in the end.

Cordelia asked me to move California and live with her. I'm actually sort of considering it even if I know it's not truly the best option.

After sending the text Avery turned off her phone. Not wanting any contact with anyone else besides Taylor's family. Hoping that if she secluded herself with her brother and his kids and wife that maybe she could fully make a decision on moving in with Cordelia.

Hopefully make the right one too and not the wrong one just because it felt right.

Chapter Text

January 2009

Avery sighed softly as she sat on Taylor and Natalie's couch. Her laptop on her lap as she looked at the screen, seeing Ethan on it via Skype as he frowned at her.

A frown that made Avery frown because usually Ethan was happy but today he wasn't. At least not now after she had told him everything that had happened to her. Even telling him about how she had cheated on Cordelia and the offer that Cordelia had given her about moving in with her.

An offer that now had been been given two days ago and Avery was still thinking on it. Still hadn't decided what to do because how could she?

She was so torn on the idea of living with Cordelia. Knowing she shouldn't because of the fact that what if it didn't work out? Which seemed more likely now that Avery knew or suspected she didn't love Cordelia with her full heart.

"Will you say something instead of frown Ethan," Avery told him with a shake of her head. "I don't like seeing you frown."

"And I don't like frowning yet here we are. Me frowning because your life is a right soap opera," Ethan sighed using a fake British accent which oddly sounded almost real. "So are you going to take Cordelia up on her offer to move in with her?"

Avery scrunched up her nose, "I don't have any better offers," she told him as her mind went to Paisley who still hadn't texted her back.

Then again why did Avery expect her too? She shouldn't have since they weren't dating and she had made it clear she felt Avery had only used her....which Paisley had allowed. Could have said no in the end.

"I mean you might have one," Ethan spoke as his voice went back to his real one. "I was actually wanting to speak to you too before you texted today saying you needed a therapy session with your platonic soulmate because no one else in your friend group would understand," he mocked her playfully almost saying verbatim what her text to him had said.

A text that was true because there was no way Avery could run to Juniper with her dilemma either. Juniper was also friends with Cordelia and she was dating Paisley's best friend. She was faulty to trust either way with stuff that could ruin things, relationships, people.

"Oh?" Avery arched an eyebrow as she stared at him. "And what did you want to speak to me about?"

"You know how after I visited you for your birthday I went to California?" Ethan asked though it sounded more like a statement. "I may have went because some record guy called after listening to my demo's. I got signed to a label and got a record deal. A record that they informed me last week I can start making which means I'm probably going to be relocating to California."

Avery sat there stunned as she listened to Ethan's admission. Not having expected it but happy for him all the same. He seemed genuinely excited when speaking about it. The same way Paisley got when it came to photography or Cordelia on acting.

The same way she probably was with art and painting.

"That's amazing Ethan," Avery smiled hoping he could hear that she meant her words. "But what does that have to do with me and a better offer?"

Ethan visibly rolled his eyes, letting out a loud huff of air. "Are you really that fucking daft woman?" he questioned her. "I'm saying you could come with me. We could find an apartment and be roommates and it would save you moving in with the girlfriend in case she becomes your ex real soon," he told her and Avery blushed because somehow she hadn't realized that was what he meant.

Figuring things might get awkward if they lived together. After all they had, had sex once....only one night. But then again they had stayed friends and nothing was awkward. Just well she wasn't sure Cordelia would like this either. Cordelia like Paisley knew that she had, had sex with a man in New York.

Though she hadn't revealed that man to either of them. Cordelia had probably done the math at some point and figured things out if Avery were honest. She was smart and Avery talked about Ethan enough that she'd know or figure out when Ethan had came into her life.

That Ethan was her New York one time fuck to make sure she was fully a lesbian. A fact that may make her wary on Avery being roommates with him.

But even knowing that, it was a better prospect than living with her own girlfriend. Someone who Avery felt really hadn't thought the moving in together idea through good enough. Even if Cordelia had been right in the fact that they had known each other for so long.

Their relationship was so new though. New and Avery had already cheated was already keeping secrets and she wanted to avoid the drama of the fallout if it came out. A fallout that could be worse if they lived together.

"Now who is the silent frowning one?" Ethan asked a hint of a smile in his voice. Which made Avery smile as she gave him a glare.

"Fuck you," Avery muttered before shaking her head. "Never mind don't. I did it already and it wasn't the best," she teased him as well watching as he flipped her off and she laughed.

"So will you move in with me Hanson? I mean I feel you kind of owe me for that one time you lied about who your brothers were."

Avery rolled her eyes because of course Ethan would still remember her lie from the first day they met. That she wasn't related to the band Hanson. A lie he had found out when he had been in Tulsa for her birthday, having seen pictures of her brothers at her house.

Knew then that she had lied to him though as she had told him it was just a stretching of the truth. Which he kindly reminded her was still a lie. Just a pretty way of saying it was a lie.

"And me moving in with you is me making up for that lie? That seems more like a punishment," Avery laughed before heaving a sigh and putting on her best serious face. "But I think I'll take it," she said finally agreeing to it.

She would move to California and live with Ethan. Be the roommate of the only man who'd be her soulmate, platonically of course.

"Good, because now that I think about it I really don't want to live in California by myself," Ethan laughed out softly and Avery shook her head.

Deciding that now that she had a plan of things to come that they could change the subject off her. Talk more about Ethan and his upcoming music career.

Avery could see him hitting it big. She just hoped that with fame he didn't get a closet because she was sure that even though he went with the flow and liked who he liked record executives and people wouldn't like an artist who was gay. She'd heard enough about how people were censored from that stuff a lot through her brothers, mainly Zac giving her all the gossip he knew.

Because of course Zac shared celebrity gossip with her. Usually during their Mary Jane bonding moments.

Later that night after talking with Ethan and then telling Natalie and Taylor of her plans Avery snuck off to the bathroom in their house to call Cordelia. Knew she couldn't put off telling her girlfriend what she had decided and she needed privacy.

The only way to get that in Taylor's household was of course the bathroom. Avery realizing then if she did have kids she really didn't want four kids. She'd be okay with two kids and a few pets. Wanting to be able to keep her privacy and not have to run off to the bathroom to get it.

That and she'd invest in a bigger house than what Taylor and Natalie had. Not one as big as her parents but one where everyone could have room and she frowned softly as her mind conjured up Paisley again. Still seeing a future with her as her partner, raising babies and pets together.

Shaking her head as she came out of her thoughts Avery quickly turned her cell phone on. Finding Cordelia's name in her contacts. Hitting on the call button before holding the phone up to her ear and waiting on Cordelia to answer.

"Hello?" Cordelia's voice spoke after the second ring which seemed like a record for her but then again they hadn't spoken in two days.

Not since the day she had asked Avery to move in and maybe she missed talking to her. A thought that made Avery guilty because she didn't deserve for Cordelia to miss anything about her.

"Hey," Avery answered as she sat down on the closed toilet lid. "So I have an answer on the moving to California and living with you offer," she told her suddenly feeling apprehensive now that she had to tell her.

Afraid once again that Cordelia wouldn't like the idea of her living with Ethan.

"And?" Cordelia asked way too quickly. "Are you moving in with me?"

Chapter Text

January 2009

"No," Avery answered after a few seconds of contemplating what to say. Deciding that a simple no was best. "But I will move out to California. Be closer to you that way," she said doing her best to keep control of her nerves. "My friend Ethan is moving out there to Los Angeles and I agreed to be his roommate. I know it's not San Fran but it's California and closer to you than Tulsa."

"And you're rambling," Cordelia butted in right after Avery had stopped talking. "Which means you are nervous on how I am going to react. You only really get long winded when you ramble Avie."

Blushing Avery looked down knowing Cordelia had a point on her rambling. "I am yeah," she confirmed because how could she deny what her girlfriend knew?

"I'm upset," Cordelia told her after Avery admitted to being nervous on how she would react. "I guess it just feels like you don't want to live with me because you're ashamed of me and the fact that I'm not your precious Paisley," she said her voice going soft and Avery was afraid Cordelia was crying.

Hated that somehow her insecurities on Paisley were rearing their ugly head. Then again maybe she had reasons to be insecure since Avery had cheated just days ago with Paisley. Had realized she'd never love Cordelia enough.

But Avery was also nice enough not to tell Cordelia the latter even if she did deserve to know about the cheating. Now though wasn't the time to confess to that, not over the phone. No if she ever told that it needed to be face to face.

"I'm not ashamed of you or the fact that you aren't Pai," Avery told her not sure if Cordelia would believe her words. Why would she?

She had known how much Avery loved Paisley. Had been there to see it first hand which was maybe a downfall to everything when it came to their relationship. Her current girlfriend knowing just how much she loved her last one.

"I know that or I'm telling myself I do," Cordelia sighed before letting out a bitter choked up sounding laugh. "But then I also keep telling myself if this were different and if Paisley were still your girlfriend and wanted you to move to wherever the fuck she is living now that you would. You'd jump and move in with her no matter how long you had been dating or how rash the idea was."

Avery chewed on her lip hard as she fell silent. Knowing that Cordelia had her there and she couldn't even try to deny it. If this were Paisley she'd jump at moving in with her.

"I'm sorry," Avery finally spoke hating that, that was all she could say to Cordelia. That she was sorry because Cordelia had been right.

Cordelia let out another bitter choked up sounding laugh. "It's whatever. Don't be sorry Avie," she told her which made Avery frown. "I'll get over this and be fine about your decision before too long I'm sure. I just...I need to tell my parents so that they can get a hold of you. My dad he kind of agreed to help you move if you need it."

Avery nodded her head though Cordelia couldn't see her. "If it makes you feel better I could stay with you until Ethan gets to California," she offered. "I mean my time with Natalie and Taylor is going to run out soon and I'll need somewhere to stay before Ethan gets to Los Angeles and everything."

"Yeah, I guess you can do that," Cordelia murmured not sounded enthusiastic over that prospect. It was only temporary so Avery could see why she wouldn't be too happy in the end. "I'll talk to you later though Avery I am going to go."

"O..okay," Avery told her hearing the phone go dead the minute after she had said okay and Avery frowned again. Hating that Cordelia was upset but of course she had suspected as much.

Knew she would be but well this was the best option. Moving in with Ethan would be so much easier if things ever fell apart between her and Cordelia.

She was sure Cordelia would eventually realize it too. How this was for the best in the end.

Shaking her head though Avery moved to leave the bathroom, nearly jumping when she opened the door and came face to face with Natalie.

"Not go well with Cordy?" Natalie questioned her as she raised an eyebrow. Avery having to paste on a smile only because she could tell there was a fake sort of sympathy in Natalie's voice.

Not the kind of sympathy Avery heard from Kate at times which was more genuine.

"You can tell just from looking at me?" Avery asked her wishing she had a more neutral face when it came to her feelings at times.

Natalie nodded her head as she too seemed to force her own smile. "Just this look you have. Taylor gets it too when things don't go as he intended."

"Guess I have more in common with him than I thought," Avery muttered out knowing that sometimes she only seemed to see similarities between herself and Zac. Not her and anyone else in the family.

"Oh all of you Hanson's have a lot in common," Natalie laughed before moving to enter the bathroom. Only stopping once she was in the doorway. "But if you want to talk about whatever happened with you and Cordelia just know I'm here to listen."

Avery forced her smile a bit more, "I know," she said as she nodded her head. Though she also knew there was no way she'd talk to Natalie about things. Not when Natalie even with her offer didn't sound genuine.

That and she half feared that whatever she and Natalie discussed that she'd go and tell her mom. Especially since it seemed with Natalie only allowing her to stay here for a short period of time as not to incur Diana's wrath that she sided with her mom more so than Avery.

Natalie not being like Kate who despite her religion and her faith still seemed to be fine with Avery and who she choose to love. Kate not caring if Diana was angry at her or not.

Avery let out a frustrated sigh as she stood in front of the U-Haul that was parked outside of her parents house. A U-Haul that was almost entirely full of the things she had left at home and would now be taking with her as she headed off to California.

Cordelia's dad Jim having gotten into contact with her a day after she had talked to Cordelia and they had decided to get her moved as soon as possible since he'd be driving her stuff out to California. So here she was almost four days later feeling tired and annoyed because she was almost out of room in the U-Haul and she still had a few more things to pack.

Knowing full well if she left something here it'd just have to stay because her mom wouldn't allow her to come back. Hadn't even really wanted to allow her to come today and get her stuff but she finally had. Though Avery had noticed the absence of her mom and Zoe.

Jessica and Mac having stayed at home to help their dad and Jim pack Avery's belongings up. A fact that surprised Avery or well just Jessica being here because she knew Jessica hadn't taken Jeremy's coming out well and she hadn't really talked to Avery much after her own.

Yet here she was today helping to pack Avery's stuff away. Maybe just wanted to know the black sheep sister was leaving and never coming back....or maybe she realized how much she would miss Avery in the time they had already spent apart.

"You need me to help you make some space?" a voice asked bringing Avery out of her thoughts and when she turned her head she felt like she had stopped breathing when she saw Paisley standing in front of her. Leaning so casually against her car.

A car Avery hadn't even heard drive up but then again she had been zoned out.

Looking away from Paisley finally Avery let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding when she didn't see Jim around. Afraid of what Cordelia's dad would do or say if he saw Avery's ex here in her driveway, half suspecting he'd tell Cordelia which she also didn't want.

"What are you doing here?" Avery asked her ignoring the question Paisley had given her. "I mean I haven't heard from you in never even texted me back when I told you about Cordelia's offer. I thought you went back to New York."

Paisley scrunched up her nose as she looked away from Avery, staring down at the pavement as if it was the best thing in the world. "Thought about going back to New York but decided to stay for a few days longer at my cousin's house. I was...well my plane leaves in a few hours so I was on my way to the airport actually."

"And you came by here?" Avery asked another question. "Why and how did you even know I was here? I mean I believe in luck and all that but this is a bit too much luck that I would be here when you happened to drop in on your way to the airport."

"Your brother Mac may have told me you were packing up and heading off today," Paisley answered as she looked back up at Avery.

Avery not sure why she was surprised by the news that Paisley and Mac kept in touch. Figured Paisley would cut off all contact with Avery's family now that they were over or trying to be over for good now maybe.

Because that was what they were trying to do right? Have a clean break from each other even if Paisley was literally standing right in front of her.

"And I'm not really sure why I came by. I guess maybe to see you one last time. Know that this was what you really wanted even if you have found a way to not have to move in with Cordelia," Paisley continued speaking in Avery's silence.

Blinking several times to fight off tears that wanted to come out Avery sighed. Almost wanting to tell Paisley no, this wasn't what she wanted. What she wanted was to be with Paisley maybe living in New York but Avery opted not too.

Knew that she couldn't in the end. She had to think of Cordelia for once.

"Yeah, this is what I want," Avery told her as she finally made herself force a smile.

"And you're still an awful liar Hanson," Paisley laughed though it didn't seem genuine. "Just… I wish you knew you don't always have to live to make other people happy. That you don't have to run off to California or even stay there because you think it would make Cordelia happy."

Avery shook her head, "I don't live to make others happy," she argued but knew it was no use because Paisley had a point.

She did kind of live to do that. First with her family who she had disappointed and now here she was doing it with Cordelia too, maybe trying to make up for not returning her feelings when she had first confessed how she felt. Even if now she still didn't return them like Cordelia wanted.

"Yeah you kind of do," Paisley told Avery giving her a look that told Avery not to bullshit her anymore. "But I hope one day you'll finally live to make yourself happy. That's all I want for you, you know. I want you happy Avery Laurel Hanson."

Again Avery blinked to fight off tears this time she failed. Her tears that she was fighting finding a way down her cheeks despite her best efforts.

"I know," Avery told Paisley and she did know that was all Paisley wanted for her. Because despite the fact that Paisley seemed to think Avery would just use her so carelessly she still wanted her happy. "And I want to be happy."

Frowning Paisley moved from her car, walking over to Avery and pulling her into a hug. Avery burying her head into the smaller girl's neck like she always did.

"Then be happy Hanson," Paisley muttered to her as she squeezed Avery some. "Choose happiness," she said and there was something in Paisley's words that made Avery calm some. Her head lifting as she looked at Paisley through unshed tears.

"And how do I do that?" she asked her with a raised eyebrow.

Knowing in her gut as her brown eyes locked with Paisley's greenish blue ones what she meant. How Avery could chose her happiness but she wanted to hear Paisley say it. Needed to hear Paisley say it.

Paisley rolled her eyes as she shook her head. "You can't be that dense Avery," she told her before leaning in and letting her forehead rest against Avery's softly. Avery knowing if Cordelia's dad came outside now she would definitely have a lot of explaining to do. "Come to New York with me. I'll even drive that damn ugly U-Haul and let you drive my car. Screw the flight I have. Just come with me."

Avery paused briefly as she took in Paisley's words. Knowing they had been what she wanted to hear. But she still somehow felt like she was in a dream. Waiting for the cue to wake up at any moment though it never came.

But before she could open her mouth to answer Paisley someone cleared their throat from behind them and Avery moved away from Paisley's embrace. Feeling like she had went ten times paler when she saw Jim standing in front of the open U-Haul.

Some of Avery's stuff in his hands as he just stood there looking at Avery in a judgemental way. A way which said he knew every secret Avery was keeping from his daughter and he didn't approve and a way that made Avery feel guilty for every secret she was keeping from Cordelia.

Turning to look back at Paisley, Avery shook her head no. "I..I can't do that Paisley," she spoke her words making her feel as if she were swallowing acid.

Mainly because they were the words she hadn't wanted to say. She had been so close to agreeing to go with Paisley and choose that happiness but now with Cordelia's dad standing here there was no way she could do that and maybe this was the universe's way of telling her that.

Paisley's face changed after Avery said what she did. A wall coming up so Avery couldn't read her emotions which was probably for the best.

"Have fun in California then Hanson," Paisley spoke her words sending a chill down Avery's spine with how cold she had said them.

Avery feeling a lump form in her throat as she just stood there and watched Paisley walk back to her car. Getting in and soon driving away. Leaving what felt like an even bigger hole in Avery's heart and all Avery wanted to do was cry again but she knew she couldn't.

Not with Jim here. Not when he already suspected something fishy more than likely.

Chapter Text

January 2009

Avery chewed on her lip as she sat beside Cordelia on the couch after the movie they had rented for the night ended. Not sure exactly what to do because things had been tense between them all day which was actually a first for them in the two weeks since she had moved in with her girlfriend temporarily which made her wonder what she had done wrong.

Knew things had been fine this morning but then she had left to run some errands which was mainly her excuse to just walk around San Francisco and find hidden art gems in the city.

But when she had came back Cordelia had been off. Barely talking to her except for when they ordered take out from the Thai place not too faraway.

Then Cordelia had talked to her but only to give her the order of what she wanted to eat. But then it was back to the cold shoulder and during the movie Avery had tried to take her hand but she had pulled it away.

Letting Avery know that at least she hadn't been imagining things. Cordelia was angry at her but for what she had no clue.

"Did I do something wrong?" Avery finally asked unable to take much more of beating herself up. "I feel like I did but I'm not sure what I did."

Cordelia laughed at that. She full on laughed though Avery caught the bitter edge to her laugh which let her know whatever Cordelia found funny it really wasn't funny.

It was just a laugh to help ease whatever was bothering her girlfriend. Which did nothing to soothe Avery's worries at all.

Only made them worse in her opinion.

"You really have to ask that?" Cordelia questioned like she found it crazy that Avery had the right to ask. Like she expected Avery to be a mind reader and know what was wrong but of course she didn't.

As far as Avery knew she hadn't done anything to piss Cordelia off before leaving.

"Yeah I really have to ask," Avery replied knowing the annoyed tone in her voice would probably only make things worse but truth be told she wasn't sure she cared.

Not when Cordelia was being a bitch and expecting her to be psychic. To just automatically know when she had done something unintentionally wrong to set her off. If Cordelia wanted that from a girl then maybe they just weren't a match.

Then again maybe they weren't a match for a lot of other reasons either like the fact Avery still wasn't sure she was in love with her or the fact that Avery had cheated several weeks ago.

Avery almost sure Cordelia was in the dark still about her cheating even after what Jim had seen because thankfully once they had got to California, Jim had kept his mouth shut.

Though Avery had been terrified that the whole time he had been helping with stuff that he'd spill the beans. Especially since things between them had felt off since then.

Were off because he hadn't looked at her the same since seeing her with Paisley in the compromising position he had caught them in, in her parents driveway.

But for some reason he had decided to spare her or maybe in the end he had decided to spare his daughter heartbreak.

That seemed more reasonable in Avery's book.

"My mom called while you were out," Cordelia began as she looked away from Avery and Avery saw her anger dissolve into something like sadness. "She told me about what my dad witnessed the day you left Tulsa with Paisley. How close you two were and I guess I did the math and figured out if she was still in Tulsa when you outed yourself that maybe she was the friend you stayed with which gave me weird crazy ideas like you could have cheated on me which I guess now I shouldn't have but you know me. You know my issues with her," she sighed before finally looking back at Avery. "I convinced myself you cheated just because my dad saw a weird moment between you and the person who will always have your heart."

Swallowing hard it was Avery who sent silent. Her heartbeat speeding up some which was weird because usually in times like this it slowed down. Made her think that she had none.

Taking a deep breath she turned back to Cordelia, "And what do you want me to do if you have convinced yourself of that Cordy?" she asked her almost afraid of what her girlfriend would want from her.

Knew if she wanted her to say that she hadn't Avery wouldn't be able to lie. Not straight to Cordelia's face and Avery almost hated Jim now. Figured that was why he hadn't said anything while he was here.

He did it so he could go home and tell Andrea, knowing his wife would tell Cordelia everything for him.

"Tell me I'm crazy like you always do," Cordelia spoke saying the one thing Avery was afraid of. She wanted Avery to deny that she had cheated.

Avery knew it would be best to deny it. Would save the argument and pain she knew was going to come but god damn it she was a shit liar sometimes or so Cordelia had always told her. Which was probably why Cordelia had trouble believing her when she tried to call her crazy on her jealousy for Paisley.

Jealousy that Avery knew her girlfriend had every reason to have.

Taking a deep breath again Avery frowned, "I can't do that Cordelia," she spoke hating that her voice cracked some because she knew in this situation she had no right to cry. She wasn't the victim. "I did stay with Paisley and...I...I.." she started unable to get her words out but from the look on Cordelia's face which was now a mix of sadness and anger she knew that Cordelia knew what she was going to say.

"You what Avery?" Cordelia questioned and even in her sadness and anger she kept her voice calm. Something that Avery hated because she deserved yelling.

Cordelia should be yelling not talking to her like this was a typical conversation.

It was far from typical.

"I slept with Paisley twice," Avery confessed her voice cracking again and this time she was aware of the tears going down her cheek.

Hated that she was crying because again she wasn't the victim.

Nodding her head Cordelia stood from the couch and again she was acting so calm. Too calm and Avery feared it was the calm before the storm.

"Did you even think of me at all?" Cordelia asked her and her own voice cracked. Avery seeing that she too now had tears but she still wasn't yelling.

She should be yelling at Avery.

Shaking her head no Avery knew that was one lie she could tell. Didn't want to tell Cordelia that she had thought of her but that even thinking of her hadn't been enough to stop her. That she didn't care enough to stop at the thought of her own girlfriend because she had yet to truly love Cordelia.

Paisley still had her heart and maybe she always would as pathetic as it was.

Cordelia once more nodded her head and without another word she turned and headed down the hallway. Avery just watching her but before she could get too far out of sight Avery chose to speak again.

"Where are you going Cordy?"

Turning on her heel Cordelia settled Avery with a glare, "First don't call me that right now," she snapped and Avery felt a bit of relief. There was that sort of yelling she deserved. "I'm Cordelia to you right now and second I'm going to my bedroom to change clothes. I have to get out of this house for awhile and get drunk or something. Need to forget you exist for awhile," she finished and after she had she turned away from Avery again.

This time Avery let her go. Figured she could let Cordelia leave sooner because she understood her needs of wanting to get out. Would probably want to do the same if she were in Cordelia's shoes.

Staying on the couch Avery wiped at her eyes watching silently when Cordelia came back some time later dressed in a different outfit.

Dressed like she was looking to fuck someone else which Avery had no right to get mad over. She had cheated first so Cordelia had every right to go and fuck whoever she pleased.

Once Cordelia had slipped out the door though a new set of tears went down Avery's cheeks. Avery hating that the truth was out because after tonight she wasn't sure what would happen between her and Cordelia. Especially if Cordelia went and fucked someone else.

Wasn't even sure what she wanted to happen now that the truth was out. Would probably let Cordelia decide what happened because it was her right anyway and if she wanted to break up Avery would do that. Figured it would be the best and most likely option.

But in the rare chance that she wanted to try to stay together, fix them then Avery would do that too because didn't she owe Cordelia that for being such a shit girlfriend to her?

She felt like she did anyway.

Waking in the middle of the night in a bed she had been sharing with Cordelia for the last two weeks Avery opened her eyes as she looked at the empty space beside her. A space that felt even more empty thanks to the sliver of moonlight shining on it.

Shaking her head she turned to look at the clock on her side of the bed, seeing that it was three am and if Cordelia wasn't home Avery figured she had done what she wanted by dressing like she had. She had found someone to go and fuck.

Not caring that Avery was here but again Avery knew she had no right to get angry and maybe deep down she wasn't. Maybe she just had a bruised ego.

Sitting up in the bed Avery moved to turn the lamp on that was closest to her. Her hand automatically reaching for her cell phone which she turned on.

She just wanted someone to talk to someone to ease her troubled mind. But she knew there was no way she could call or text Juniper and Calliope. They were too close to the situation and would more than likely reasonably call her out for her shit.

Just like she couldn't contact Paisley either. She had burned that bridge the day she chose coming to California to be with Cordelia over going to New York with her.

Not to mention she was afraid if she called Paisley it wouldn't fix things anyway especially if Cordelia found out.

So when she opened her contacts Avery chose the only neutral person she could turn too to call. Only hoped he'd answer at this time of the morning and wouldn't get too mad that she didn't just text him instead.

"Avery?" Ethan's sleepy sounding voice asked after the second ring. "You better have a good reason for calling me at six in the morning on a fucking Monday," he told her though there was no anger in his tone.

Only a sleepy sounding teasing tone. Because somehow even with just being woken up he had a sense of humor.

"Depends on your definition of good reason," she sighed feeling like she wanted to cry again but she was going to do her best to fight it. "Cordelia knows I cheated on her with Paisley. I confessed everything to her when she confronted me on something her dad saw the day I left Tulsa."

There was movement on Ethan's end as well as Ethan whispering something to someone and Avery raised an eyebrow. Wondering if he had brought someone home with him for the night or if he was at someone's place. Since becoming friends with him Avery had found out that she wasn't his first one night stand and she hadn't been his last.

He was accustomed to having several of those and Avery half doubted he'd ever settle down fully anytime soon. He seemed to like being single and able to fuck any man or woman he pleased. Even if at times he mentioned missing the one boy he said was his true first love.

"If I was interrupting something..." Avery started but was cut off by Ethan.

"It wasn't anything important," Ethan spoke sounding firm in his words. "Not as important as you and your problems with women," he said sounding honest. "Now talk to me," he told her. "Tell me what Cordy's dad saw in Tulsa."

At his words Avery found herself confessing everything about Paisley showing up. From the compromising position to the offer Paisley had given her that she turned down. Even mentioned how Cordelia had found out about it from her mom today.

"Oh darling," Ethan told her in a soft voice. A soothing soft voice that eased some of Avery's worries temporarily. "You're the type of girl people write songs about."

Rolling her eyes Avery let out a sarcastic laugh. "That's not helping my problem."

"Let's be honest with ourselves Avery, you really didn't call me at six in the morning my time to fix your problems. You know I can't. The only thing that can fix it is talking to your girlfriend and deciding to break up with her. You called me because you want to use me to ease your worries. Kind of like you used me for my dick several months ago," Ethan told her and again she laughed though it wasn't sarcastic.

It was a genuine laugh because leave it to Ethan to be semi blunt with her.

"That's not true you know. Not all of it," Avery replied because she felt like she hadn't truly used him. If she used him she wouldn't still be in contact with him. She would have used him and left him but maybe she just sucked at the concept of one night stands with strangers.

"Maybe so," Ethan agreed and he almost sounded like he was smiling. Something Avery could picture in her head. Especially the way his dimples sometimes popped out. Making him look like the literal sunshine in a room. "But anyway you have me for as long as you need to talk. I mean until of course I have to piss or something then I'm hanging the phone up."

"You say that now," Avery shot back as she did her best to make herself comfortable. "You'll get tired of me talking eventually."

"Never going to happen darling," Ethan told her and all Avery could do was smile when he called her darling and hope he was right because she was sure she could talk all night or well morning to him.

At least it kept her mind off Cordelia and that situation.

Chapter Text

January 2009

Waking again a few hours later Avery opened her eyes slowly. Becoming aware of her surroundings and the fact that she had fallen asleep sitting up, her phone still clutched in her hand. A blush starting to work itself on her cheeks where she looked down at her hand, realization hitting her that she had fallen asleep while talking Ethan.

Well no, really she had fallen asleep while he sang to her. A request she had given and she was sure he had been singing one of his own songs because she hadn't ever heard it on the radio. A song about a girl he had met once and he wrote a song about her. How she never saw herself as a west coaster.

It was lovely if she said so herself and she kind of hoped he put it on his album that he'd be making. She could see it being a hit. Maybe once he released his album she could even work her magic and get her brothers to listen to it or let him open for them at least once.

It would get him some hardcore fans as Hanson fans were well known to latch onto opening acts sometimes even with the same fervor that they latched onto her brothers.

Moving her hand so she could turn he phone back on she frowned seeing that the battery was almost dead. So she moved to plug it back in. Getting out of bed once she had because she may as well start her day.

That and she hoped that Cordelia was back and just had opted to sleep on the couch or something since it was apparent she couldn't be around Avery right now.

A fact that hurt Avery but it was something she knew she deserved. She deserved Cordelia not wanting to see her because she had willingly cheated and not given a damn. She didn't care that she was hurting a girl who loved her so much. Had loved her for so long.

A love Avery desperately hoped to return some day if they did stay together.

Leaving the bedroom, Avery headed down the hall coming to a stop when she saw Cordelia in the kitchen, standing at the stove. A small breath of relief leaving Avery because at least she was home now and Avery wouldn't have to worry when she was coming home.

"What time did you get home?" Avery asked tentatively as she walked into the living room which was connected to the kitchen.

Cordelia shrugged not even answering which made Avery frown.

"Just I woke up at three and you weren't in bed," Avery spoke as she slowly made her way into the kitchen. Feeling a bit wary as well as afraid that Cordelia may throw a dish or something at her. Which was stupid because Cordelia wasn't a violent person even if her words could be cutting.

"I crashed at a friends after I got a bit too drunk," Cordelia spoke finally her tone harsh. "I got home a little after seven. Is that a problem for you?" she questioned as she finally turned away from the stove where Avery saw that she was fixing eggs. "Because if it is it's kind of hypocritical seeing that you think it's perfectly okay to fuck another girl while dating me."

Swallowing hard Avery looked away from Cordelia's gaze. "I never said I thought it was okay," she defended herself because she hadn't said that. Hated that Cordelia was putting words into her mouth.

"Really?!" Cordelia asked her voice raising. "Because not even thinking of me while you cheated says you thought it was okay. That you thought I'd be okay with that."

"That's not what I thought," Avery shot back as she finally looked up at Cordelia. "I didn't...I guess I....I didn't think you'd ever find out," she admitted because maybe she had also thought that too. Believed it at least until Jim had saw her with Paisley.

Then she had known it was a matter of time until she was screwed.

Cordelia only shook her head as she turned away from Avery. "Well then, is there anything else you're keeping from me that you thought I'd never find out?" she asked sarcastically. "I mean the truth always comes out Avery. May as well spill all your dirty secrets that you're keeping from me out before someone else tells me. Before I find out from someone else what a damn fool I am."

"Ethan's the person I slept with in New York," Avery confessed not even sure why she was. She figured Cordelia had done the math and figured it out on her own but since Cordelia had told her to open up she did. Choosing to admit out loud that the person she was going to be moving in with in Los Angeles was the person she had sex with in New York to make sure she was indeed a lesbian.

Silence fell between Cordelia and Avery after that. An uncomfortable silence and Avery was afraid. Afraid that Cordelia hadn't known and that she was now going to be more pissed and finally end things.

Which she was sure if any outside observer was watching her and Cordelia's relationship they'd say Avery was trying to find any reason to give Cordelia to end things.

She wasn't but she knew how things looked....or well she didn't think she was doing that anyway.

"I knew that," Cordelia sighed breaking the silence as she moved to put her eggs on a plate that was on the counter beside the stove. "Of course I knew that. It's one reason I haven't been fond of you deciding to move in with him when he comes to Los Angeles. I mean my girlfriend living five hours away from me with the man she has fucked once. Don't think I haven't imagined how you could fuck him again if the chance came," she rambled as she walked to the table with her plate.

Avery only stayed silent and let her go off. Knew it was for the best.

"I'm not going to fuck Ethan again," Avery sighed as she shook her head and walked to the table. Sitting across from Cordelia who refused to make eye contact with her. "He was just one time. To see for sure if I was lesbian or if I could be bisexual or not."

Cordelia let out a bitter chuckle, "And what if his penis and him just suddenly become attractive to you and you decide to experiment again?" she asked as she finally looked at Avery. Settling her with a gaze that made Avery shiver as well as render her silent.

Avery staying that way for minutes as she just watched Cordelia begin to eat.

"He may be attractive but trust me his penis isn't," Avery muttered out with a shake of her head. At least that was the truth. She hadn't found his penis attractive but then again she felt that way about every penis she saw. Not that she saw many but she had watched the occasional porn. "But I'd also never have sex with him again," she said shaking her head.

"Never say never," Cordelia countered bitterly. "Unless of course he was just that much of a bad lay. Maybe it'd ease my mind then to know my girlfriend was living with the attractive guy she fucked but she considered him a bad lay."

Blushing Avery looked down because she hadn't ever talked in depth about her sex with Ethan. Joked about it some here and there with him and had mentioned it in passing to Cordelia and Paisley both but she had never really discussed it.

Almost sometimes wanted to treat it like it never happened. It made things less awkward with Ethan if she did that she supposed. She could treat him like any other guy friend she had if she forgot that she had seen him naked. That he had been inside of her twice in the same night.

"He wasn't a bad lay," Avery sighed as her blush only grew. Because it was the truth. He hadn't been bad. He had even gotten her to orgasm three times despite the fact they had only had sex twice. But that had only been because the second time had been much slower. Felt a bit like making love if she were honest with herself but she didn't want to be. "It just wasn't something I was into since you know I don't like dick," she spoke shaking her head. "I mean if I had to rate Ethan he is at the bottom of my list out of all three of the people I've had sex with," she spoke though she hated to admit that if he had eaten her out she could maybe move him above Cordelia but he hadn't and that was another thing she didn't want to admit.

Hated that Cordelia had her even thinking about this in depth because it was way too early in the morning and she hadn't had her coffee yet.

Cordelia only glared at Avery as she shook her head but she didn't say anything. She just continued to eat.

"Does this mean I'm...that you aren't breaking up with me?" Avery asked as she raised an eyebrow. Knowing she should leave well enough alone but sometimes she really was a damn Hanson. Kept going even when she should stop. "Just you still called me your girlfriend when referring to Ethan."

Cordelia shook her head again as she sighed, "I should dump you. It would probably be best I know that but I love you too much even if you don't love me," she spoke with a sad sounding resolve in her voice. Like she had came to terms with loving Avery even if Avery didn't love her back. "I am going to give you another chance but if you screw this one up we're done. I can't...I can't keep being hurt by you."

Nodding her head Avery reached out across the table for Cordelia's free hand. Taking it in her own she squeezed it with a smile, "I won't hurt you again and you won't regret this," she spoke but after the words had left her mouth she felt like someone lost at sea.

Really more like a ship and the ship needed to be anchored down because it felt lost. But as she looked into Cordelia's eyes she knew Cordelia could never be that anchor. Not like Paisley had.

Knew in her gut she was making a mistake by staying in this relationship but again there was that need of wanting to love Cordelia. Of wanting to give her best friend what she had wanted for years which was just her love. To be in love with her and not just love her like a best friend.

Because right now as sad as it was she loved Cordelia like a best friend still. Like how she loved Ethan.

But of course she'd never tell Cordelia that.

"I hope I don't," Cordelia said with a wary smile as she squeezed Avery's hand back.

Coming out of the shower some time later after she had ate and drank her coffee, Avery headed back into the room she was sharing with Cordelia to see if her phone was fully charged. Pausing to see a text message from her sister Jessica as well as one from Ethan.

Clicking the one from Jessica first she raised an eyebrow as she read it.

Not sure if Kate has contacted you yet but Zac should be on his way soon to a rehab in California. I forget where exactly but since you're there maybe you could see him. I don't think anyone's told him what happened with you and he really needs to know. That and maybe seeing him would do you some good too even if I don't really agree with the life you're living I know how your bond with Zac is.

Swallowing hard after reading Jessica's text Avery did her best not to cry. But also swearing to get in touch with Kate and find out where Zac would be at. As well as feeling grateful that he had decided to get help for his eating disorder.

A word she still didn't really want to say out loud because it made it more real. That her brother like her was breakable and not at all put together.

Taking a deep breath she opened the text from Ethan next.

You fell asleep on me darling :-p. I also overslept and nearly missed a meeting because of you but I forgive you. Hope today works out well for you but in case it doesn't I come with good news. We finally have a place in Los Angeles for sure and I'm coming in a week so you know I can help you move into our place. If Cordelia hasn't killed you by then.

Letting out a small laugh as she reached the end of the text Ethan sent she also couldn't help but sigh in relief. Knowing she only had to stay with Cordelia just a bit longer and then she could leave, which made her an awful girlfriend just like all her other actions did but well maybe she'd feel less awful if she lived apart from her girlfriend.

Maybe she'd also feel less lost too. Less like she was a ship about to sink because she had no anchor.