Hey guys! It's me, Kiki, again. Back with a new fic! I know that having 3 fics to update at once is a lot but this one was just pulling at me and I really wanted to write it. I have a new update schedule on my profile that I'm going to try my hardest to stick to.
If you haven't it would mean a lot if you could check out my other stories 'Comfort Crowd' and 'Million Dollar Bills'.
Hope you enjoy this story! The rating may move to M in the future.
Los Angeles is hot as fuck. Which is exactly what I need. I've lived in the Windy City my entire life, and then for college I migrated to Portland, Oregon which is notorious for its rainy weather and cloudy skies. For the past 3 years I've moved back and forth between Chicago and Portland between the holidays and schools.
This summer me and my best friend, Christina, decided no more. She's stuck permanently in Chicago at the University of Illinois. The mediocre weather and no real beaches nearby has started to get to her. We've been planning this getaway since last summer when we realized that our lives sucked.
'We need to experience something that's not just the Illinois suburbs or our depressing college campuses.' She had insisted to me. And thus, the research for our perfect summer began. One night, my junior year of college, I was up late cramming for an exam when she called me.
'I have the perfect idea. Venice Beach.'
I ditched my studying to do research with her and fell in love. Naturally, it was going to be expensive, but 2 broke college students wanting to have a fresh summer experience would find a way to make it work. We both got jobs on our campuses and started saving like crazy. We found pretty good deals on beach houses to rent, but we didn't have enough.
It seemed like our summer plans were crushed until Christina got ahold of the landlady for a house we really liked along the coast. And our prayers were answered because we found out there was another group of 2 who was interested in renting that house as well and they were willing to split. The house is big enough to where we would be comfortable with 4 people in it, but we would have to share a bedroom. We didn't care. This just seemed like a sign from God that we should go and take what we wanted this summer.
I'm outside of Burbank Airport and I've just ordered my Uber when my phone rings with a call from Christina.
"Hello?" I answer.
"Tris! Oh my gosh! The place is amazing! It's even more gorgeous than the photos and the beach is like 50 feet away. Where are you?"
"At Burbank. I just called my Uber and it should be a 40 minute drive."
"Ugh! Okay, I can't wait to see you! It's been so long! I'm all alone here right now, the other people we're splitting the place with haven't arrived yet."
"Okay, well, my Uber should be here in like 3 minutes. I'm sharing my location with you so you know when I'm close. I'll see you soon, okay?"
"Yeah! Bye! Love you!"
"Love you too." I hang up the phone and then take in the view around me. The summer breeze, the palm trees, and the warm sun lift my spirits immensely. This is exactly what I needed.
This summer is going to be one that I won't forget.
"Tris!" Christina pulls me into a bone crushing hug and kisses my cheek. "I've missed you so much!"
I laugh and pull her hands into mine, squeezing them tightly. "I missed you too, babe." I glance at the house behind her. "Wow. It is better than the photos."
"I know, right! Come on, get your bags and then we can take a tour!"
I haul my luggage into the house and Christina shows me where our room is. It's not incredibly spacious and one of us has to use an air mattress at night because there's just one twin bed. We don't care, though. We're just glad to be here for the summer, no matter the circumstances. We make an arrangement to alternate who gets the real bed every night too.
"Hopefully I'll be hooking up with so many boys this summer that I won't even have to sleep here most nights!" Christina sings as she pulls me out of the room to show me the rest of the beach house.
It's only one story and it's pretty compact but it is really quaint and cute on the inside. "What about you, Tris? Are you planning on finding summer romance here in Venice Beach?"
As we enter the kitchen I contemplate how to tell Christina my response. "Uh… no." I say flatly, walking over to the tiled countertop to inspect it.
"Then why the hell are we here?" She asks. "We spent all this energy and time trying to find this place and make it work and you're already being a debbie downer."
I laugh a little bit as I turn on our stove to see if it works. "Believe it or not, Christina. There's more to life than flirting and hooking up. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with wanting to do that, go you, but the main reason I'm here is to try something new in a great town and also spend time with my best friend. Which I can't exactly do if you're at a new guy's house every night." I feel a flash of annoyance, thinking about me spending the whole summer in this house and Christina being gone all the time with different dates. Maybe I should be more open to meeting someone but my heart is pretty locked away and hasn't been open to that in a while.
"Okay, okay… I'm still gonna flirt with cute boys that we meet at parties but I promise I won't leave you alone all the time. I'm excited to be here with you too, I just wish you'd be more open to living life and meeting new people. You could really meet someone you like here! Considering that you haven't dated anybody at all in college yet and we've only been attending it for like 3 years now. I just want you to be happy and it's hard to do that when you're such a wallflower."
We both approach the back door and step out into the yard. It's small, and the flat stone that we walk across is pretty hot. I fold my arms and glare at her while the sun beats down on my face. "I'm not a wallflower. The reason I haven't dated anyone in college is just because it doesn't appeal to me. Believe it or not, I have different preferences than you." I've hooked up with a couple people from school, but she doesn't need to know about that. She's already convinced that any guy who looks in my direction could be my Romeo. If she finds out about the sloppy one night stands I've had with random guys I've met at parties she'll be trying to plan our wedding. I get that she wants me to be happy, but it's a little much.
Christina sighs. "Tris, if you're not going to be more open about this stuff I'm going to have to bring up the T word."
My face grows hot. "He has nothing to do with any of this. It's been like what? 3 years? I think we've all moved past it. You just love bringing him up to make me uncomfortable." I speed walk back into the house, trying to avoid her prying. She follows behind me quickly.
"Okay, fine. We don't have to talk about him. I get it. It's painful."
I whip around, "It is not painful, I just think it's irrelevant."
She sighs and runs a hand through her short hair. "I mean, I don't really think the fact that you haven't dated anyone since him is irrelevant, but I'm not going to push you, Tris. Let's talk about something else. Anything else. And just have a relaxing night. Tell me about that online graphic design class you have to take over the summer?"
We begin to walk through the rest of the house, finding the bathroom, a broom closet, and our mysterious roommate's room as I tell her about my mandatory graphic design class that I have to complete online while we're here to get my credits. It relieves some of the anxiety and frustration that was welling up in me while we were discussing the previous subject. We've come full circle back to our own room by the time I've finished going through the details.
"Well, I hope the wifi in this place is good then. It sucks you still have to do school while we're in summer."
I shrug. "At least we're in a pretty nice place, you know? And the class isn't that tough. Besides, soon that will be our reality. Most jobs in the real world don't take 3 month breaks so we might as well get used to it now."
She sighs, falling back onto the tiny bed. "Okay. This conversation is depressing me. Let's unpack and you can show me what cute outfits and swimsuits you brought."
I grin. My best friend and I are different in a lot of ways but our love for fashion and clothes is something that's brought us together and keeps us from breaking out into fights sometimes. We begin unpacking our bags and showing each other some of our items when we hear the front door open. It must be our roommates. We both look at each other warily and then put our stuff on the floor, exiting the room to go greet the unknown people.
I'm a little nervous, and it's not hard to tell why. Social situations and meeting new people isn't exactly my strong suit, though Christina always tells me I do fine in them, I always feel like I'm completely awkward. We also don't know anything about these people. Age, name, gender. They could be anyone.
We enter the kitchen which is combined with the entrance way and we spot two people. A tall, dark skinned boy, and a girl, who is not as tall as the boy but she's tall for a girl, who has golden hair. They look about our age.
I glance to Christina timidly, because she usually takes the reins on these sorts of things. Before we can greet them, the boy sees us and he flashes us a friendly smile. "I'm assuming you guys are our roommates! I'm Uriah!"
"I'm Marlene." The golden haired goddess says.
"Nice to meet you, I'm Christina."
"Tris." I incline my head.
Uriah lets out a laugh that sounds relieved. "Thank God, you guys actually seem cool and normal and close to our age. We honestly didn't know what we might have been getting ourselves into but we really wanted to stay here and we couldn't afford the cost on its own."
I surprise even myself when I respond instead of Christina. "Yeah, exactly! I'm relieved too… Where are you two from?"
"We're both from Washington. Seattle." The girl, Marlene, says brightly. Her voice sounds like sunshine. "We go to UW for college, we're about to be seniors." She takes Uriah's hand and squeezes it. Christina glances to me and I know she's thinking the same thing that I am. What an attractive couple. "What about you guys?"
"Chicago." I say. "I go to Reed College though! That's cool how we're both in the Northwest." I inwardly cringe. That's cool? Marlene and Uriah smile kindly at me though.
"I go to University of Illinois at Chicago, we're about to be seniors too. That's honestly nice how we're all the same age." Christina observes.
I feel relieved as well. We could've been stuck with anyone as roommates but we got cool people our own age? Another sign that this summer is meant to happen, I think.
"Hey, why don't you guys get situated in the house and then we can talk more in the kitchen?" I suggest.
"Thanks. That'd be great." Marlene says. Christina and I point them in the direction of their room and after everyone gets set up we all go to our sofa that's in the kitchen because I don't think this sitting area even constitutes as a living room on its own. I can't complain though.
"So what brings you two here?" Uriah asks. "Running from the government?" He quirks an eyebrow. I decide I like Uriah. He's friendly, funny, and charming.
Christina laughs. "For sure. But actually, we've been wanting to have a getaway for a while. We've been stuck in Chicago for most of our lives and haven't really done a lot of travelling. We saved up a lot to be here and we're honestly ecstatic. We didn't think it would happen. What about you guys?"
"Uri's brother, Zeke, got a condo here and he's staying with a few friends there. They invited us to come down here to have a chill summer away. Especially because Seattle is so depressing year round, we just wanted to get out and have a nice summer together." Marlene leans into Uriah and he wraps his arm around her.
"How far is their condo?" I ask.
"Oh, it's only about a ten minute walk down the West side of the beach. Actually… there's a party tonight. Not at Zeke's condo but at his neighbor's. Do you guys wanna come?"
"It's gonna be awesome!" Uriah says. "And to think, it'll be just the first of many this summer. What do you guys say? You'd get to meet a lot of cool people."
I already know what Christina's answer is going to be when she sings, "I'm innnnn! Tris?"
I can feel her looking at me with pleading eyes but I keep my gaze trained on Uriah and Marlene. Half of me just wants to stay in tonight and start orientation for my course early, but that's not why I came here. And as much as I hate to admit it, Christina is right. I have become somewhat of a wallflower. I sigh. "Yeah… I'm in."
Everyone cheers, and I feel my spirits lifted a little bit. If the rest of my summer is spent with this group and other people like them then it should be a memorable one.
Christina shoots up. "Come on, Tris. We gotta choose what to wear! I'm so hyped!"
I try to make myself hyped too.
The swanky condo is booming with life when the four of us enter about 2 hours later. Christina and I had deliberated on what to wear for a while. Finally, we both assisted the other in picking out good outfits. She wears a white mini dress with spaghetti straps and ruffles that compliment her body perfectly. For her shoes we picked out her wedge sandals. I'm wearing a lavender tube top and flowy white shorts with some strappy sandals. Marlene gassed us up when we emerged from our room, and my self esteem hasn't been this intact in a while. It feels nice.
Marlene looks stunning in a mustard yellow dress, and Uriah looks equally handsome in a navy blue polo with board shorts. "We're all really hot." Christina announced, before we headed out and made the very sweaty and sandy trek to the condo complex.
The scent of booze and weed and sweat hits me like a ton of bricks, and shit, I forgot what parties are like. But we're all 21 now, so technically all of this is legal for us. It feels odd, knowing that I can't get arrested for marijuana possession now. After all, the illegality of it was sort of the appeal in high school.
"Uriah!" A young man exclaims, walking up to us. He's essentially a shorter and stalkier version of Uriah, equally as handsome as well. His brother Zeke, no doubt. He pulls Uriah into a bro hug and then hugs Marlene. After he turns to Christina and I. "Who are these two?" He says flirtily.
"Zeke, these are our roommates Christina and Tris. Christina and Tris, this is Zeke."
We all exchange pleasantries and then Zeke says he's going to get some drinks. Then, it all happens so fast. Christina says she'll go with him and he grabs her hand and starts leading her away through the party. Uriah and Marlene dash off to some corner and I try to go after Christina but a huge influx of wasted girls stumble by, cutting us off from one another.
I trip forward and nearly fall on my face when a pair of strong and warm arms steadies my balance saves me from total humiliation. My face collides into the stranger's chest and bounces back on reflex. Ow.
Way to go Tris. "Oh my gosh, I'm so sor-" I look up at the stranger only to find that I'm staring into a very familiar pair of blue eyes.
No. This is not real life. This cannot be happening.
Tobias Eaton towers over me, his balmy hands still steadying my shoulders, looking at me disbelievingly. We both blink a few times as we take in the situation.
"Tris?" He asks dumbly, because obviously, it's me. What a fucking idiot.
It's in situations like this where I really have no idea what to do. My brain goes into panic mode, and my panic mode tells me to just act as casual as possible. So that's what I attempt.
I hold my hand out in a fist. "Hey, buddy! Long time no see, right?" I give my best casual chuckle.
He stares at me for a few more seconds before hesitantly bumping knuckles with me. We stand in silence staring at each other for a few more moments after that, because really, is there a guide on what to say when you run into your ex who you dated on and off for 4 years at a random house party that's 2000 miles away from your hometown?
"Tris!" Uriah runs up behind me and squeezes my shoulders. "I see you met Tobias! Come on! We're all sitting in the end corridor smoking a bowl! You know you want toooooo!" He sings and then doesn't wait for my response before dragging me away. "You too, Tobias!" He calls out to him.
I am not completely present in this moment, and everything seems muffled and dimmed. I can hear my heartbeat loud and clear in my ears and my legs feel wobbly. We approach the circle, where Zeke, Christina, Marlene, and another girl with short and pretty dark hair sit. They all look up at us as we approach and Christina looks relieved to see me until her eyes catch on who's behind me as she's taking a sip of her beer. Here we go.
She starts choking like crazy and then hammering her chest. Marlene rubs her shoulders concernedly and Christina just nods through her coughs as if to say, 'I'm good'. When she's finally done with her hacking attack she stares wide eyed between me and Tobias. The rest of the group seems to notice the weird energy now because all eyes seem to have flitted to Tobias and I who now stand side by side.
"What's… going on here?" Zeke asks hesitantly.
Tobias and I make eye contact, and I hate that we still somehow have the ability to communicate telepathically. His gaze says, 'Should I tell them, or you?'
I sigh, releasing a breath of air through my nostrils. After all the signs that this trip was meant to be, running into him is a real bummer. "Tobias and I used to date. In high school." I announce to the group, trying to keep my voice as emotionless as possible.
Christina's gaze burns holes through me, it looks simultaneously worrisome and ecstatic at the same time. I look away from her. I really can't do this right now. The rest of the group seems shocked, because really, this is a huge coincidence.
"She's the ex you always talk about!" Zeke exclaims.
My face instantly flushes and Tobias growls some not so kind words toward him. I'm trying to wrap my mind around what exactly is going on and how Tobias knows my roommate and his brother when a gorgeous model walks up to the circle from the opposite hallway. And launches herself straight into Tobias's arms.
"Baby! I've been looking all over for you!"
Oh wow. A new development in the shit show. I can't help it. A laugh bubbles out of my throat. Because only in my life, to me, would the odds be so stacked against my favor that this would fucking happen. This is just topical. You win, universe.
Now everyone is staring at me, Tobias, and Miss fucking World, wondering what the next course of action should be. "Are you going to introduce me to your new friends?" Tobias's … someone asks. I make eye contact with her and her eyes flash in a certain way that lets me know she's the possessive type. Yeah. She can't know about my past with Tobias right now because I value my hair being intact in the follicles on my head. Whether he wants to tell her when they leave the party is their business and their business alone.
"I'm Tris and that's Christina." I say quickly. "We're Uriah and Marlene's roommates." I don't look at Tobias at all.
"I'm Nita," She says coolly and then doesn't spare me another glance. She pulls Tobias over to the edge of the circle and they sit down, her in his lap.
Christina ushers me to sit down next to her and it is very obvious that both of us are freaking the fuck out on the inside but we also don't know what the fuck to do. As Tobias and Nita engage in a very… physical greeting the other 6 of us just stare at each other awkwardly.
"Oh Tris! I don't think I introduced you. This is Shauna." Zeke gestures to the pretty girl next to him. I try to sense the energy coming from their body language. They're not dating. Zeke was too eager to flirt with Christina and I when he met us. But from the way his arm casually hangs around her shoulders she definitely likes him and he probably returns the sentiment. He just doesn't know it. I wouldn't be surprised if they've hooked up before either.
"Nice to meet you." I say kindly and then turn back to Zeke. "So… do you go to Virginia Tech too?" That's where Tobias attends and he has to be linked to someone in this circle somehow.
"I did. Just graduated baby!" He grins.
"Oh, wow. Congrats. And what about you?" I ask Shauna.
"Zeke, Uriah, and I are childhood friends. I stayed in state in Washington for college, though. I went to Seattle University but I graduated this past year as well."
We all make some small talk about what brought us here for the summer, and I get to know Zeke and Shauna better. Zeke tells us that he dragged Tobias along because he was apparently working his ass off at his internship and he decided he needed a break. And apparently Zeke and Tobias became buddies at a frat party of all things. It's weird, hearing about someone who used to be your whole world. What their life is like after you both parted ways.
Thankfully, Zeke doesn't talk about Tobias long. Him, Uriah, Marlene, and Shauna start telling childhood stories. I grow to like them pretty easily, and as Shauna and Zeke start joking around more it is clear that my assumptions about them were correct. Sometimes Uriah will make a particularly crude comment and we'll all burst out laughing. Eventually a joint starts getting passed around the circle and things get funnier and lighter. This whole time Tobias and Nita are playing tonsil tennis, but I try not to pay attention to them. Or think about how seeing him with someone else makes me feel. Or think about how seeing him in general makes me feel. The fourth or fifth time that the joint is passed to me I inhale about 10 times before handing it over to Christina.
I enjoy the way the room tilts and sways and everything looks grainy and oversaturated. I laugh loudly. Everything looks weird. This is funny. Eventually Nita and Tobias enter the conversation, though I'm not sure how much time has passed because I've been staring at a spot of red that has been growing and shrinking on the wall for the past fourteen thousand milliseconds. Measuring time in milliseconds is stupid though, we should measure it in terms of snail shells. 7 snail shells is the same as 59 milliseconds. Yep. That makes sense.
I open my mouth to announce my new genius idea but a fit of giggles overtakes me. That doesn't make sense, that's so stupid. Nita is giving me a very bitchy look with her stupidly perfect face. "Is she okay?" She asks, judgment strong in her bitch voice.
"It's called being stoned." Uriah says. "I am too! High five Tris!" He lifts up his hand to me but it looks pixelated, and there's also 3 of them now. I reach out to high five the leftmost hand but my palm only feels air. That's odd.
"Oh, well, I wouldn't know." Nita says with an air of superiority. "I don't smoke marijuana. And neither does Tobias."
"Hah!" I say loudly. Because Tobias has definitely smoked lots and lots and lots of marijuana. But then something in the back of my brain is alerting me that I shouldn't reveal this information for some reason so I close my mouth. Nita looks at me as if I'm some sort of infection.
A glance around the rest of the group lets me know that they are also aware of Tobias's substance use, and it also lets me know that they can't stand Nita. Something inside me revels at this realization but I don't know why.
"So Nita…" Christina says sweetly. I'm jealous of Christina. She's so much better at handling her substances than I am. "Do you go to college with Tobias?"
Nita smirks and shakes her head. "No… I don't go to college at all." She runs a hand through Tobias's brown locks and I can't read the expression on his stupid hot face. No. Shut up Tris. He's not hot. Except he is.
"Oh! How'd you meet then?" Christina tilts her head as if she's oh so interested. It's times like these when I love my best friend.
Nita narrows her eyes at Christina. "He works for my daddy's company. I was visiting him at work one day when he was in a meeting with Tobias and he introduced us and voila! We've been inseparable ever since!"
It's silent for a moment, and then I decide to start clapping. I'm not sure why. "True fucking love!" I shout. "Let's hear it for the happy couple!"
Uriah starts cackling next to me, and then, so does Christina. Marlene is shaking her head like she's a disapproving mother. Zeke and Shauna look like they want to laugh but they hold it back. Nita looks utterly perplexed. And then Tobias looks like he'd rather jump off of a bridge than spend another minute in this circle.
All of a sudden Nita looks down at her phone. "Ah! Skylar and Macy are here to pick me up! I gotta go." She pouts to Tobias. "Walk me out?"
He nods and then all of a sudden they're gone. Poof. The circle is silent for a few seconds, and then we all burst out laughing at once. It feels amazing.
When we've calmed down a little bit, I ask, "You all despise her. Right?"
Everyone groans out some form of agreement. "Tris!" Uriah shouts. "She is the fucking worst. And this is just the second time that I've met her."
"She's awful." Shauna says hotly.
"Such a downer." Zeke adds on.
My spirits are lifted by these affirmations for some reason. When Tobias returns to the circle our chuckling dies down a bit and we're back to staring at each other in silence.
"What were you guys talking about?" He asks us. I have a feeling he already knows.
"Just how lovely Nita is. We are so sad to see her go! We were having such a good time with her here tonight." Uriah says with a little too much enthusiasm.
Shauna seems to get the joke. "She's such a gem, Tobias. Keep her forever."
Tobias's jaw clenches. "I see what you guys are doing. That's my girlfriend, by the way." Girlfriend. The word hits me like a weight in my stomach. There was a time, for 4 years, when that word was only reserved for me when it left his mouth.
Zeke claps him on the shoulder. "We're just messing with you, man. Why don't we play some beer pong? Tris! You and Tobias versus me and Shauna!"
My mouth falls a little in surprise and I look to Christina. She nods encouragingly as if to say, 'Yes! Go!'
I shrug. "Okay. Let's do it, man." All of them get up to head over to where the beer pong is set up and I stumble a little bit on my way over. I start laughing again to myself. Man, I am geeked. We're so gonna lose because I am so geeked.
Zeke and Shauna are arranging the cups on their side and Tobias and I stand in awkward silence.
"So," I muse, "Tobias doesn't smoke marijuana." I grin ryely at him and he rolls his eyes, a deep scarlet blush spreading across his neck.
"I really don't anymore." He insists.
I tilt my head. "Aw. So that means you don't want any of this?" I hold up the joint that I grabbed from the group on my way out.
He eyes it for a couple seconds and it feels like a literal victory when he snatches it hastily from my hand and inhales it once. Twice. Three times.
I poke his shoulder. "It's okay. I won't tell on youuuuu."
He grins a little bit and shakes his head. "Remember that one time… senior year, when we got so baked and you kept insisting that you needed a shower and then you jumped into the shower with all your clothes on, but then all of a sudden you thought that you had just finished your shower so you came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around your body while you were fully clothed."
I tip my head back and laugh. "Yes! But you were on some stupid shit that night too! We went to McDonald's and you kept crying to the staff because your burger wasn't cheesy enough when you got the McNuggets!"
Tobias is in hysterics now too, and all of a sudden I forget who we are and what we've been through. I just know that I'm so fucking happy right now.
"Hey guys!" Zeke calls out to us, smirking. "We gonna play? Or what?"
I salute to him. "Yes sir!" I turn to Tobias. "I'm assuming you remember my superior beer pong skills."
He rolls his eyes, "I remember you almost losing every game when we would team up and me having to save us."
I hit his shoulder. "So typical. Taking credit for my hard work. Well, watch and learn, Eaton. We gonna flip a coin?" I ask Zeke and Shauna.
Zeke searches his pockets for one and after a few moments he pulls out a dime. "Heads or tails?" He asks Tobias, who turns to me and grins.
"Alright." Zeke flips it up and when it comes down he smacks it on his palm. "Damn it! It's heads."
"We're firssst!" I sing, and Zeke tosses me the ping pong ball.
"Okay, Prior, you got this one. Let's re-rack the first round."
I roll my eyes and put a hand on his chest. "Trust me, I know what I'm doing."
All of a sudden I'm transported back to high school parties, where this game was a ritual with Tobias and I. We really were the unstoppable team. Even though it's been a while, my arm knows just how to bend and my fingers know just how to grip the ball.
Despite my high state, everything is so clear to me now. I can feel Tobias's gaze on me. Inhaling, I flick my wrist gently and aim the ball into the front most cup. It lands.
"Yes!" Tobias and I cheer and he grabs my shoulders from behind. "I saw that, the classic Prior wrist flick combined with the 3 finger grip."
"What can I say? It's foolproof. Drink up, one of you!" I call out to our opponents.
Shauna sighs and grabs the cup, taking the ball out and tossing it back to us before downing its contents. "You're up, T." I say, and then I want to hit myself. I used to only call him that when I was feeling particularly affectionate.
However, I catch him grinning as he takes the ball and spreads his feet a little bit. He has to lower himself to a good level for most beer pong games because he's so tall. Once he's ready he closes one of his eyes and brings the ball up in front of his gaze. He doesn't have a toss method, instead he has more of an aim method, and I can already tell that he's aiming for the leftmost cup in the second row. He shoots. He scores.
Tobias and I go wild. It's only the second shot, but shit, we're already proving unstoppable? I'm shocked when he wraps his arms around my waist from behind me. This is dangerous.
Zeke rolls his eyes and grabs the cup, tossing the ball back to us before downing it. "Rerack!" Tobias and I shout simultaneously, before high fiving.
We continue playing and we end up reracking the next 6 rounds before my ball bounces off the edge of the cup. Zeke and Shauna's cups are more than halfway gone though, they just have 3 left. So unless they're cup pong olympiads, Tobias and I are in pretty good shape.
As Zeke takes his aim, Tobias turns to me and grins. "We always made a good team, didn't we?"
My cheeks grow pink. "Uh, yeah. I guess we did." Zeke makes it and we groan.
"I got it." Tobias tells me, going to drink the cup. Well that was nice of him I guess.
Shauna's up. She misses. "You guys got me so drunk that I can't do anything straight!" She complains.
"That's the point!" Tobias says as he hands the ball to me. After this it's not hard at all. 3 cups, and we make them consecutively. We cheer louder than we should at our victory, in fact we've been quite obnoxious this whole game. Oops.
As Zeke and Shauna walk away, Tobias calls out, "Rematch?"
Zeke flips him off. I decide that I'm getting too sober so I grab one of our cups from the table and sip it. I cringe. This beer is lukewarm and disgusting. It gets the job done, though, so I finish the cup before moving to the next one.
"Whoa, slow down there, Prior," Tobias says, furrowing his eyebrows.
I take a long sip, staring at him the whole time. His expression is unreadable. After I'm done I say, "So… Nita."
"Yeah." He crosses his arms.
I try my best to keep my voice as light and casual as possible. "How long?"
"Uh… 3 months?" He looks like he's having trouble remembering himself. I almost scoff.
"Oh, okay. What company are you working for now?" I ask, with genuine curiosity this time.
"Oh… it's uh, this tech start up run by Nita's dad and a bunch of other rich shareholders. I'm just an intern though, but at least it's a paid course."
I nod, and find myself smiling a little bit. "I'm glad… you're finally doing something big with your life. You know, something that you wanted to do too. We always talked about getting out of the suburbs and making something of ourselves."
He smiles shyly back at me. "Thanks, Prior… and what about you? Are you dating?" He asks, feigning disinterest.
I could lie and say that I've had many suitors at college, but what the hell? There's really no point, mostly because most of me doesn't give a fuck, or so I would like do think. "Nope." I shrug. "Just… not my priority right now. Hasn't really been for a while."
"Oh, please. I'm sure there are hundreds of guys at Reed waiting to get with the Tris Prior." He jokes.
The next words tumble out of my mouth before I can contain them. "Maybe, but I was still hung up on just one guy." God, Tris.
He opens his mouth to respond, but then realization dawns on his face. He presses his lips together in a flat line and looks down at his shoes. The ground seems really interesting right now.
"Sorry, I shouldn't-" I start.
"No, no. It's… okay."
The heavy silence overcomes us again as we stand awkwardly, not looking at one another. I think it may be time for me to leave.
He takes a stab at rehashing the conversation. "Tris-" He starts, but I interrupt him.
"I gotta go. It's getting late. Good catching up though!" Before he can respond I'm rushing through the party, looking for Christina. I find her sandwiched between 2 guys on the couch, giggling and flirting with both of them. I roll my eyes and walk up to her, grabbing her arm violently and dragging her away behind me.
"Tris!" She protests. "I was kind of in the middle of something!"
"Okay, well, it's time to be with your best friend, considering she just ran into her ex at a random ass party in LA and saw another girl hanging off of him the whole time." I shove open the door to the condo and march down the steps, Christina in tow.
"I thought you were happy, though! You guys were totally flirting during beer pong. Don't even deny it, Tris. I saw you."
I begin treading through the sand, not looking at her. "Well, it doesn't really erase everything that's happened between us. Or the fact that he has a girlfriend."
"Oh, please. Gucci Lucy over there is clearly not serious. He looked miserable the entire time he was with her. I'll give them like 2 more weeks before it's over because she finds out he smoked marijuana! But anyways, those things can be easily solved. Him and Kim Kardashian West aren't gonna last and you guys can also just talk about your issues!"
I ignore her and continue walking. Damn it, we should've called an uber. This is too long.
"Doesn't it feel like fate or something? Like the odds come together this summer and have Uriah and Marlene as our roommates who coincidentally are linked to Tobias through his best friend who happens to be Uriah's brother. That just seems too crazy to me."
"It's not fate." I grumble. "It's the universe's way of saying 'hey, Tris Prior, fuck you!' because my summer was looking suspiciously perfect. They had to find some way to ruin it."
"It didn't look ruined when you were playing beer pong."
"Yeah, well, appearances can be deceiving. Anyway. I'm done talking about this. If you want to change the subject, please be my guest. Otherwise we can continue our walk back home in silence."
Christina sighs, but seems to know that she won't get another word out of me about this. She begins telling me about the guys she was flirting with, and I pretend to listen, but my mind remains on a certain pair of blue eyes the rest of the walk home.
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