Soup?" Ben closed the door to his place, dropping his backpack and taking off his shoes, making himself comfortable. He put his phone on the table next to the coat rack and took off his coat, hanging it while continuing to listen to his friend listing the wonders of having soup when you are feeling sad. Picking up the phone, the boy made his way to the kitchen looking for some lemonade; without missing a bit, he agreed with what his friend said without paying attention, opening the cupboards looking for a snack until he realized that his friend was silent. "Hello?"
"Are you even paying attention to me? I bet you are already trying to find something to eat without even taking into consideration my advice about the soup. Come on Ben, when have I ever failed you?" The boy closed the cupboard and apologized to Mal. She was right about giving him excellent advice not only in food but in life in general.
"I'm sorry, but I'm hungry, and I don't have a good recipe for soup or the will to do it. Also, I'm not sad, Mal, I'm just tired." Mal rolled her eyes, although she was completely aware that he wasn't able to see her. The girl knew Ben since they were five, and even though they no longer live in the same city, Mal didn't need to see him to know how he was feeling. She went on to tell him precisely that gaining a groaned from the boy, which only validated her suspicions about his mood. Sometimes the girl missed living near her friend, and soon memories took over her forgetting that they were having a conversation.
When they were younger, Ben's family move to the same building Mal's family live, it didn't take long for them to meet, and from that day on, the pair became inseparable. They walked to school every single day together and would try to make their schedules coincide, talking to their teachers about how they needed to be in the same classes because they studied together. It usually worked due to what Ben called "Mal's power of convincing." According to the boy Mal had a unique power to convince everyone no matter the situation of whatever she wanted, that, of course, didn't apply to her parents, but aside from them, the world was continually moving at Mal's will.
Their friendship grew stronger through the years, especially after the girl's parents divorced, and she was left to spend most of her time alone while her mother found herself another husband. Maleficent wasn't exactly the best example of how a mother should be, but Mal didn't mind her behavior because the less attention her mother gave her, the more freedom the girl had to do what she wanted. When her mother remarried, she was no longer an only child; her stepfather had a girl that would sometimes spend the weekends with them.
Evie was not precisely what Mal would describe as a kindred spirit, but she admitted that the girl wasn't annoying or even stuck up as she first thought, and after a couple of weekends together, Mal decided that she wasn't bad. Evie just liked things more on the girly side while Mal like them rougher. When she first talked to Ben about her new "sister," the boy told her to be open-minded.
"Maybe she is going to be a great addition to your family, and if she is not well, at least you won't get to see her a lot."
However, when she introduced the girl to Ben the week before the new school year started, she didn't like how both of them began to talk completely, ignoring her. When Evie went away that weekend, Mal confronted Ben about his attitude, and the boy apologized to her, promising that he was going to behave better next time. Still, when the next weekend came, the couple not only didn't include her in their conversation but made plans without her. That was the only time since Mal knew Ben that she stop talking to the boy, it didn't take him a lot of time to realize why she was mad, and he tried to speak to her without any luck. Suddenly Mal changed her scheduled, and they no longer were in the same classes, Ben had no idea what Mal's schedule was, and she continued to ignore him for the rest of the week.
When Evie came that weekend Mal arranged to spend the weekend at Jane's house in case the girl tried to talk to her on Ben's behalf. By week two, Ben managed to corner Mal and promised her that he was not going to talk to Evie ever again, but to please speak to him. The girl seeing the sincerity in his eyes, sighing telling him that he could go on talking to Evie. "I just don't like it when you ignore me. You are my brother Ben, and the second you like a girl, you just forget about me?"
Ben apologized, and Mal nodded, telling him that as long as he didn't forget about her again, she had no issue with him dating Evie. That's how the trio started doing things together, and Mal began to feel like her friendship with Evie grew stronger. Evie and Ben dated for a year, and when they broke up, Mal stood by Ben side helping him get over the pain, both of them knew that Evie tried her hardest, but in the end, the girl fell in love with a guy from her high school and didn't want to lie to Ben about her feelings for him. Mal remembered the boy pleading with her not to be mad with Evie, he didn't want to be the cause of any problems between the girls, and she agreed although she didn't find it easy to stay cordial to the girl. In Mal's heart, Ben was her brother, and even though Evie was her stepsister, she didn't feel the need to be on her side.
After the breakup, Ben and Mal went back to be inseparable until the girl fell in love with someone, and Ben started dating around. Soon, they managed to find a dynamic that worked for them, and even though their time together wasn't as long as it used to be, their friendship was as strong as ever. When they finished high school, they decided to apply to the same universities trying to see if there was a chance that both of them could still stay close. In the end, they went to different universities, but they were in the same city, so they decided to live together, and as luck had it, Evie joined them. Those years were great for everyone; they found new friends but never lost the bound that made their friendship unique, and after graduation, when Ben announced that he was moving away, Mal felt sure that they would stay close no matter the distance their relationship wouldn't change.
That's how Ben moved to Seattle while Evie and Mal moved to New York together. A couple of months later, Jay and Azis, two of the many friends Ben made in university, moved to Seattle and joined Ben in his start-up. Almost two years later, their company was making enough waves in the market to solidify their status as a strong contender. It was amazing how the friends managed to grow their presence in the industry, but it didn't come without sacrifice. Neither of them had anything that resembled a social life outside of the people that work with them. Even Jay's girlfriend of several years, Lonnie, almost broke up with him due to the amount of time the boy spent working.
Another two years went by, and finally, with a little more space to delegate and a budget that allowed the friends to hire more help, they soon started to have time for going out and do things that they enjoyed. However, it wasn't as easy for Ben as it seemed to be for his friends; the boy went out but never managed to click with someone, the few relationships he managed to have never lasted, and as cold as it sounded he wasn't sad about losing any of those girls. The only constant in his life were his friends and his job, and the boy seemed content with that. However, every time he talked to Mal, the girl would ask him if he was going out with someone, and one time she went as far as to create a profile for him on a dating app, which he promptly delete it.
Mal sometimes wondered if maybe Ben was reluctant to search for someone to date because he was still hang up on Evie, sure they dated a decade ago, but after her, the boy never had a relationship that lasted more than six months. Focusing on the conversation again, Mal brought up the subject, and this time she was the one missing Ben rolling his eyes at the comment. "I've told you before that I'm over Evie Mal. We were kids when we dated, and I don't have any desire to have any relationship with her, aside from being friends."
"Ok, I'm sorry. I just want you to be happy, Ben. I want you to be as in love with someone as I am with Harry, and I wished that you would find someone that makes you feel as special as he makes me feel." Ben smiled at Mal's comment and assured the girl that he wanted that too, but he was in no hurry to find it, although he was always open to the possibility.
Mal dropped the subject and went back to tell the boy about how the soup was going to make his day better, and if he wasn't in the mood to prepared it, maybe he should just order one. Ben agreed to order some and then said goodbye to the girl; however, Mal continued talking to him. "Ben, are you going to go home for the holidays this year? We haven't seen each other since you move there, and I know you were too busy to come before, but I miss you."
The boy smiled at the comment. "I miss you too, but my parents are coming to visit me, so there is no need for me to travel back home. I didn't know you were going home for the holidays; I just assumed you were going back to Harry's home for the end of the year." The couple spent the holidays together since they started dating almost three years ago, the year before Ben moved was the first one when Mal went to visit Harry's family. It was hard for Ben not to see her at Christmas, but he understood that was what happened when people grow up, so when the holidays came after he moved, he didn't feel weird about not seeing his friend.
"I am, but I wanted to know if you were going so I could decide if I was going to visit my mom or just called her." Ben started to tell Mal that it wasn't fair to put that on him, but the girl just said to him that she wasn't. "I just don't see why I should go and see her when she barely made and effort when I was little."
Ben didn't argue that point he was well aware of the way Mal felt about her mother and how she treated her when they were younger. Once again, Ben told her that he was going to order some soup and finished some things for his meeting the next day and wished her a good weekend. Mal said goodbye promising the boy to call him next week so they could have their weekly talk, and Ben went on with his day. Every Thursday, he would call Mal the moment he got out of his office, and they talk while he made his way back to his apartment. Lately, the girl was pushing more the idea of him getting into a relationship, which Ben started to find annoying because he was content with his life.
So next week, instead of calling Mal, he sent her a text with an excuse but decided to go out and make an effort to meet new people. Azis invited him to a new bar that organized game night, the patrons could go with their teams or joined people there and compete against each other. The variety of games meant that there was something for everyone, and usually, people had a blast and made new friends.
Ben was pleasantly surprised to find Jane there, the last time they saw each other was on their high school graduation. She was there with her boyfriend, Carlos, who was super friendly and asked them to joined their group for the competition. Soon, everyone was competing, and the friends were having a blast, that culminated with their team being number one and a free round of shots. At 4 am, Ben made his way back home happier than he could have imagined when he agreed to go out with Azis the day before sadly that ended two hours later when his phone woke him up.
Disoriented at first, it took for the phone to stop ringing and then ring again for him to understand what was going on. Ben knew that he put his phone on silent, so the only reason it would be making any noise was that one of his favorite contacts was trying to contact him. That made him stand up and walked to his desk where it was charging, a second later he was asking Mal if she was ok. "Well, my best friend told me he was too busy to call me, but I woke up to pictures of him having a blast with another friend."
Ben rolled his eyes while groaning; he should have guessed that Mal continued to have some type of relationship with Jane and that the girl would post pictures of the night. Without missing a beat, he ended the call and facetime Mal. "How dare you hang up on me?! Wow, you looked super tired. Did I wake you?"
The boy chuckled at the rollercoaster of emotion Mal display in the few seconds of their call. "I just went to sleep two hours ago, so excuse me if I'm not completely paying attention to what you are shouting." This time he saw Mal rolling her eyes and smile at his friend; the conversation went on, with Ben apologizing for not telling the girl the truth. However, he also explained to Mal that her pushing him to develop a relationship was adding to his level of stress, not helping him.
After that, it was the girl turned to apologize, and after promising each other to talk the next day Mal let Ben go back to sleep. Harry cleared his throat behind Mal, making the girl turned with a sheepish look asking her boyfriend how long it was since he arrived at their kitchen. "Not long, although I did hear Ben telling you to stop pushing him to have a relationship. Funny how I don't talk to him, but I'm pretty sure I said to you that he was going to avoid you if you didn't calm down with that."
Mal pouted, making her boyfriend laugh; the couple went on with their day, not giving the situation a second thought. That was until Mal went on to look at the pictures of her friend and some small videos of that night before going to bed. She smiled at the side of her friends smiling, but she also noticed that one of the girls in there was giving Ben a not so innocent look in some videos. The last thing she did before Harry told her to turned off the light was to send a text to Jane asking her about the girl, and if there was a chance, she was single.
Sure, she promised Ben not to bring the subject up in their conversation, but she never said anything about helping him in other ways.