August Anderson disliked the word "girlfriend." He regarded monogamy as the blue plate special on the vast and exciting menu that was the DC dating scene. Why bother? Why worry? After all that had gone down with Annie, he was up for a little bit of fun. A little regret felt good in his masochistic bones- it heated up the marrow and filled him with frenetic energy. It drove him to be better, in work and play. Some men would consider this to be a weakness, but Auggie was too far gone to start backtracking now. He had serenity enough to accept the things he couldn't change.

The whole thing with Annie had been a mistake. When Auggie was in high school, he'd opted to ask out a cheerleader named Molly- a friend of his. To his great surprise, Molly turned him down on the spot. Her reasoning? "I don't want to compromise our friendship." Auggie had hated her reasoning, but it aged well. It was true. Dating your friends can really turn things to shit. That's why he was determined not to allow the amount of garbage that went down bar him from being close with Annie again. It was no big deal. He wanted to be close to her more than he wanted to be on top of her. Simple as that.

That was why he was taking shots at a swanky uptown bar instead of Allen's tonight. He hadn't been to Allen's since Annie went off the grid- before that, even. He wasn't that same guy anymore, and Annie wasn't that same girl. There was too much familiarity and too many memories involved for him to go home with a stranger without feeling dirty. Anyway, all the girls there knew his gimmick by now. He was the blind guy who didn't call.

This new place was nice, a recommendation from the perpetually-superior Calder. Louder music, cramped layout, crowded bar. Precisely Calder's scene. The sheriff of Medellin liked to whet his whistle, fire a warning shot, and leave. Auggie preferred an abridged version, but they were on the same page. The women, beer, and tequila were all that mattered.

Tonight, however, he found himself sharing a shot with one Hayley Price.

"Beer? I guess you're not as smart as you look." she commented after draining her shot.

"Pardon?" Auggie's brow furrowed.

"Beer before liquor, never been sicker," she said matter-of-factly.

"Don't worry," Auggie said wryly, holding up his now-empty shot glass. "This isn't the first shot I've fired. I'm in the clear."

Maybe it was the tequila, but the next thing he knew, they were back at his place. At first, his head wasn't in it, but the more she committed to the bit, the more he invested. She was smart. She was assertive. She was kind of a brat, in a way he wasn't used to. As much as she'd flirted, Auggie had no indication that she genuinely liked him. That was fine. He didn't particularly like himself either.

Taking up with Hayley wasn't as difficult as he'd expected. She knew how to assist, how to let him lead, when to let him lead, and when to take the initiative. But the more he worked with Annie, the more he sensed a jealous streak. It was out of the blue and frankly, it was a little worrisome. They were just having fun. Weren't they?

But he never thought her jealousy would take her to these lengths. Not with Tash, not with Annie. Not in a million years.