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1. Wendy

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AN: Hi, readers. A few notes, before we get started. First off, this is a WIP, and is being posted as I write it, so be prepared for a certain rough draft quality and for the occasional typo that slips through. This is a friends-to-lovers, sometimes sweet, sometimes fluffy story which will contain strong language and adult content – like always with my stuff. Trigger warnings for violence, past abuse, and combat-related PTSD.

Comments are welcome and appreciated! :)


1

Wendy

"What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it."

― C.S. Lewis

A life can change in a moment. In one split-second decision. In a turn left, or a turn right. In an impulse. In the span of a heartbeat. The choice to smile, the choice to step out your door, the choice to take the hand offered you – moments with the power to electrify, to delight, to encourage, to destroy. Moments can break you. Moments can bring the world down around your ears. And moments can lift tattered threads and begin to stitch them back together, too. Sometimes our entire futures can be traced back along those threads, linked to that first moment, that seemingly innocent breath you took when you stood on the edge of forever, back before you knew your life was changing.

Back before you knew longing, or heartache, or piercing joy. Back when you were just this person, who met this other person, in the office of a garage in Queens.

Because the best things, you see, are unassuming at the start. They sneak up on you. But they never let you go.

~*~

It happened in Brooklyn, of all places, in the slow weeknight trickle of business moving between the bar and the narrow alley of tables inside Denver's. Wendy had been in town a month, and already she had a favorite bar – or, rather, Tate had a favorite bar, and he insisted that this should be hers, too. Denver, the former college baseball player without a last name who owned the place, had cultivated a sticky-tabled, dark-cornered, damp-smelling hellhole that absolutely delighted her for its lack of hipsters and tourists and upscale brownstone-dwellers. It felt like old Brooklyn, which was why it was never crowded, and why it was practically a ghost town on a random Thursday.

Fitting, considering she was certain she was staring at a ghost now.

"Hon," Denver said, hands braced on the bar. "You want a refill?" It was the third time he'd asked; he was patient for a Brooklyn-ite.

But she couldn't get her mouth to form words. Because...because...a ghost. A ghost sitting at a table by himself, in the deepest, darkest back corner. But God, she'd know those eyes anywhere. How many times had they stared into hers, crinkled at the corners with laughter?

"Uh..." she said.

Over in the corner, the ghost wore a hoodie under a battered leather jacket, a Mets cap with a frayed bill pulled low over his face. He had both hands wrapped around a tumbler of something amber, and he was staring at her, just as she was staring at him.

Oliver Patton, in the flesh.

"I...just a minute, please," she told Denver.

"Hey, Wendy!" Simone called from their table, back behind her.

"Are you having a stroke?" Tate chimed in.

Wendy took a step toward Oliver's table, heart trembling.

And Oliver shot up from his seat, chair skidding backward across the hardwood, table lurching, sloshing the contents of his drink. She had an impression of wide, wild pale eyes, his mouth a taut line, and then he was spinning, heading down the back hall of the place. Back toward the actually-functional payphones, the restrooms...and the rear exit.

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