THIRTY-ONE.

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(oooooooooohhhhhhh helllllllooooooooooo

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(oooooooooohhhhhhh helllllllooooooooooo. welcome to the holiday special everyone! for whatever reason, this one was a pain. in. the. ass. to write. i hope y'all find something to enjoy in it. it's like, violently unedited, but you know what? it's fine. can't yell at me bc it's the holidays. love u all tons. you guys are the best. thank you for all the love these past couple of weeks. -mags)

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AS IT TURNED out, Marley knew exactly what to do when Lauren left. And it was to fall back asleep and pretend like she remembered nothing that had happened when she woke up.

Was it immature? Most definitely. Was it going to blow up in her face at some point in time? Probably. But Marley didn't care. Whatever performance she'd have to put on couldn't have been worse than the feeling she got when Jess gave her that look after she'd said those godforsaken words.

And she was right. And Marley Acosta put on a fucking Oscar-Winning show.

She would admit, however, that the way that Jess had reacted when she woke up and began asking where she was all over again had thrown her off slightly. He didn't laugh about it like she thought he would, he didn't tell her that she was insane or impossible or use any of the words that they once threw at each other as insults but now were only used affectionately. He didn't do any of that. Once she told him that she only remembered bits and pieces of the times that she'd woken up, and that they all sort of blended together, he only held her gaze for a second too long and sighed. He'd dipped his head and nodded, leaving the room after a moment to get her a glass of water.

Marley sat in bed with a sinking feeling in her stomach as Jess walked away. She figured that there were two things that this could mean. One, Jess was upset that she wasn't recovering as quickly as he thought she was and he was annoyed that he'd have to explain everything to her all over again. Or two, and this was definitely the least likely of the pair, Jess was... disappointed. That one made no sense to her and was genuinely unsettling.

For the most part, she wasn't an idiot. It was a debatable statement at times (especially when it came to things like relationships. And Quantum Mechanics), but generally, Marley Acosta was a smart girl. She'd gotten into an Ivy, had the ability to go for rounds with anybody in a verbal sparring match and win, and she was able to make a worryingly high GPA for all of her semesters at Penn while still managing things like her internship and her occasional article for the paper. She wasn't stupid.

So, Marley knew the possible and probable reason that Jess would ever be disappointed. And she'd be lying if she said that that idea wasn't at least nice to think about, especially after her revelation this summer. But that's all it was. Nice to think about. Anything past that made her physically ill and wrecked her with anxiety.

Marley had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take back words she'd said without any consequence. And for the sake of their friendship, she knew she'd be an idiot if she didn't take that chance.

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