Autographed "How to Take the Fall" CD by Juliana Finch.
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She would’ve been just another girl with a laptop in a coffee shop (and lords above, Doodle hated the gentrification of coffeehouses), if not for two things - the halo of blue-shading-to-gold that surrounded her, and the fact that she piqued Kaylin’s interest.
She was new. Not just to Caffiend, but to Vegas. There’s a shine you lose when you’ve been in Vegas a while, and she still had hers. She was new and lovely and had a glow, and Doodle would never have spoken to her.
If Kaylin hadn’t run up to her and asked to draw her.
The girl had been surprised, but she’d smiled, and Doodle was half-lost just in her smile and her kindness. Half-lost right there.
Her name was Sara Darien. She was new. She wrote. Kaylin was drawn to her. And she didn’t have an apartment yet. Martin approved her right away, based mostly on Kaylin’s opinion of her, and she was quickly installed in the other third-floor apartment, her door facing Doodle’s. Kaylin got in the habit of stopping by Sara’s after preschool, and Doodle got in the habit of cooking for three rather than two.
She was as shy as he was, and just as silly when dragged out of her shell. She loved bad movies and Doodle’s lasagna. She didn’t talk about her life before Vegas, and he didn’t push her. He didn’t need to know who she used to be. Just who she was now. And now, she was friend and family.
It was very late at night when he finally kissed her - late night of talking about his past, about his path to Vegas. About Kaylin. About Martin and Arthur and Petra and everyone (but not Kellen and Crystal, not Axis and Griffin, never them). She’d been resting her head on his shoulder, fingers entwined with his, his thumb rubbing her palm gently. “Sara,” he whispered into unexpected silence, and she looked up and he kissed her, all possibilities folding into this moment, into loving Sara, and he kissed her, held her, learned her, until dawn.
He later found out that Arthur and Petra had had a betting pool on how long it would take him to get around to kissing her - the whole house had known they’d fallen for each other before they had. (Petra won.)
He had never loved anyone quite this much before, and it was scary as hell. She confessed that it was for her, too. They wibbled over whether she should move in with them - but she needed her space to write, and he needed his to draw and paint. Still, she half-lived at his place, slept curled into him every night; he stayed awake just a little longer than she did and watched the tension she still always carried melt from her, watched her face soften and her glow mute as consciousness faded.
It did not last. Nothing ever did.
Years later, he couldn’t put his finger on just why it fell apart. They weren’t fighting. They just… weren’t working. Slightly mismatched gears. And they figured out that, if they wanted to be friends and family, they could not be boyfriend and girlfriend.
So. Sara across the hall. Truest love. Still family. Best friend.
And then they returned. Axis and Griffin. The sort of guys who always got the girl. He watched Griffin watching Sara, and his world trembled. She looked back through the closing door, perfectly framed, golden light around her glow and golden Kaylin in her arms. I can’t lose you. Please. I could not bear to lose you.
And *that's* where Our Story Begins.
The soundtrack of Places You Haunt, in my head, is very Juliana and S00j, Dar Williams and Rilo Kiley.
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Elayna has gone to bed. (This bedtime is for realz</>, don't you ever forget it!)
And you guys, I still have energy. And it's past midnight. And I've only had 3 cups of coffee all day.
Team Venture says "When in doubt, TARDIS."
I wish we did not have to be quiet. Landlords were out of town last year; they're downstairs this year. Still, the aggressively loud person from last year is not here this year. That helps.