Title: Transition
Author: smithar
Rating: G
Fandom: Bollywood - Saathiya
Pairing: None unless you count Suhani/Aditya.
Summary: Take one seemingly carefree party girl, add childhood friends, unrequieted love, a dirty dance with a mysterious man, and a moonlight apology.
Notes: Hooray for Item Number fic featuring Sharmita Shetty's character from Chori Pe Chori. She was never given a name, so I made one up. Un-betaed fic, as per usual.

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When Sujata was young, no more than twelve years old, her uncle decided it was time for her to help him run his beachside restaurant after school. She pitched in wherever she could, serving drinks, cleaning the kitchen, sweeping floors, and eventually overlooking the bills and books. (She happened to be good with money) It was hard work and her uncle never gave her special privileges for being family. But he was true to his word that he would let her go without complaint when the sun set and her friends ran to the door of the restaurant, shouting "Sue, come out and play!" They would run through the ocean surf, frolic in the waves, throw sand at each other, and generally be the carefree children they were.

These days, things were a little different. When her friends stood under her balcony and shouted to come out and play, Sue could always count on a depraved night of bar-hopping and endless discothèques. Uncle never complained, as usual. As long as she balanced the restaurant's books and finished the taxes on time, he let her do as she pleased. But her aunt, who had always frowned upon the fact that she was spending so much time learning how to run a business and less time learning to be an accountant in college, didn't approve of her carefree ways.

"Your parents, Ram bless them, would want you to get a good education. Not dilly-dallying around with those hooligans." She would pull on the end of her pallu and wring it between her hands, with that familiar pained expression on her face.

"Auntie, I am getting a good education. You saw my marks on the last exam. I did fine. Better than fine."

"But if you read your books more and went out dancing less, your marks would be even finer!"

Sue laughed, amused but bitter. It was the sort of thing her mother would have said. "I have to go. They're all waiting for me."

---

For some reason, they ended up crashing at Mohan's house that night. Mohan lived just down the street from Sue and was a childhood friend, one of the kids who had called from the door of the restaurant and screeched for her to come out and play. He lived with his twin younger brothers, who were enrolled in the same college as Sue, but a few years younger. His parents were dead, just like hers. Lung cancer from cigarettes. During the funeral, after Mohan had lit the pyre, the six of them (all childhood friends) had come together and swore to never touch the damn things again, in their honour. One college degree later and they had all kept that promise.

"Will someone close those damned blinds! I have a killer headache." Mohan groaned and curled up in a ball on the couch, attempting to bury himself in pillows.

"That's your own fault for listening to me when I said tequila was watered down Columbian beer." Reena said, grinning from the bed she was sharing with the three girls.

"But Ritesh said he was going to steal my car if I didn't do those shots!"

Ritesh gave a crooked look from the beanbag chair he was sitting in. "Don't blame this on me! You had the chance to say no and you took the tequila anyway. Damn sharaabi. You're all drunkards!"

"Whatever. We need food and hydration, yaar. Stat!" Parvati jumped out of the bed with enough energy and cheer to earn her glares from all around the room. "I say we take it easy and recover for the rest of the day, then hit up that bar next to Sue's restaurant tonight!"

Geeta snorted. "So says the girl who drinks cocktails like it's amrit. We all can't have a liver like yours."

"I think it sounds like a great idea." Sue interjected. "It's been ages since we've partied on the beach. It will be like old times, when we didn't have to worry about jobs and college and tax payments."

"And clueless lost distance boyfriends who don't get the hint when your girlfriend's mother says he's like part of the family." Parvati grumbled.

Reena giggled. "Am I still the only one who finds that funny?"

---

Someone was calling her name, shouting at her to come back to the bar for another round of fruity tropical drinks.

"Sue, darling!" Mohan stumbled up to her with a drink in each hand and gave one to her. "This one's from Reena: cheers!" She smiled, clinked the glass against his, and drank the entire thing in one gigantic gulp. Mohan laughed and grabbed her by the arm, trying to get her back to the bar where the party was in full swing.

She pulled her arm out of his grasp. "No, it's too hot in there. Too many people, yaar. I'm going to take a walk on the beach instead."

Mohan grinned. "Superb idea!" He turned back towards the large thatched hut that doubled as the bar. "Hey guys!" He shouted. "Sue wants to take a walk on the beach, just like in the olden days! Let's go!"

Sue's friends emerged from the party crowd, hooting and hollering and putting a smile on her face. In a matter of minutes the six of them were running in and out of the surf, riding high on the alcohol as well as on life. And why shouldn't they? They were all on the brink of graduating from the local college. Life would never be as thrilling as this, in the transition between carefree and indulgent students versus responsible and ambitious adults. Sooner or later they would all be working long days, married to the loves of their respective lives, and raising children of their own. Despite all the ups and downs of her life, Sue had to admit that this moment celebrated a freedom she would soon lose.

"Enough nostalgic mazza for you, Sue?"

"Are you kidding? This has been the best night ever!"

"By the way, where's that cute ladka you were just dancing with? He was totally into you!"

Sue turned and stared out into the distance, where she saw the cute guy from before leaning against a wooden post and chain-smoking morosely.

"He's over there, smoking." She pointed. "And I think he has a girlfriend."

"Really? Oh my god, that's so scandalous!" Parvati said, eyes wide and drawing out the last word in her intoxication. "How do you know?"

"Remember that girl in the red salwar who was sitting at the table looking pissed off and not dancing or drinking or anything?"

"Oh, yeah. I remember her." Ritesh nodded slowly. "She was one hot babe."

Sue brushed off the comment as best she could. "Well, he ran after her when the song was over and they got in a huge fight. She left the beach without him." Sue didn't mention how avidly she had observed the fight from the side of the building, watching the pain and hurt and betrayal wash across both of their faces. People who hurt each other that much usually loved each other with an equal force.

"Can't say I blame her. That was some very dirty dancing." Geeta teased. "Who do you think you are, Lara Dutta?"

"Oh, please! I was just having some fun. Isn't that what we're here for?" There was a hint of defensiveness in her voice and Sue did her best not to look at Ritesh, who was laughing and shoving Mohan towards the water. Barely two weeks ago she had, in a coy and un-Sue-like fashion, admitted to Ritesh that she was attracted to him and asked him if he wanted to date. A bold move for a woman to make, but that was the way Sue was. Unfortunately, Ritesh explained that he didn't feel the same way about her. She was his dear friend, bachpan ki dosti, and while he cared about her he wasn't attracted to her at all.

His emotions towards her were a sort of bland, generic care. Not the sort of fireworks and passion she had been hoping for. She thought back to the guy she had been dancing with and how he had fought with his girlfriend, and Sue thought that she would take any strong emotion, be it love or betrayal, over an unremarkable sense of caring. Maybe dancing with that guy was her way of getting Ritesh's attention, a last ditch effort to see if she could incite anything in his eyes... jealousy, desire, excitement... but there had been nothing but banal amusement and a hint of confusion.

He was still leaning against the wooden pole, lighting another cigarette in the ocean breeze.

Sue took off in his direction. "Wait here, I'll be right back."

Immediately, they started whistling and shouting encouraging comments. "What are you going to say?" Geeta asked.

The wind whipped her hair in her face and she turned back to speak. "An apology."

---

She approached him slowly, assuming she was probably the last person he wanted to talk to. He looked at her with a sense of resignation.

"Hi. Sorry about being so forward before. I didn't know you had a girlfriend."

He looked back to the waves and blew out a puff of smoke. "Biwi. I have a wife. Although, maybe not for long."

It was a bit of a shock to her, that this man was married and had still been dancing with her. She wasn't a prude by any means, but she did know what her standards would be for a husband and wife relationship.

"Then you'd better rush home as soon as you can and make things right with her."

"What do you care what happens to me? Some dancing girl takes a few minutes of my time and thinks she has the right to give relationship advice?"

His words were like a slap in the face and her words were filled with anger. "For you information, you creep, I'm just a single college student who was having fun with my friends at our childhood hangout. Don't you dare judge me when you're the one who should know better. How am I supposed to know whether you're married or not? Salla..." She stormed off.

"I'm sorry!" he called to her as she walked away. She stopped walking waiting for him to say more. "I'm taking my anger with Suhani out on you. It was wrong of me."

"Apology accepted." Sue didn't turn to face him. "You really should go home and fix your marriage."

She could hear him pacing back and forth. "I'm not even sure if there's anything left to fix. She's so stubborn, plus she knew what she was getting into when we married. We're such different people, everything becomes an argument when we try to discuss something, which probably has to do with the fact that we didn't know each other for very long before we-"

Sue turned back to him. "-All I know is that when people hurt each other that much, there has to be a profound bond involved. You can't cause someone who doesn't care about you so much pain. And the pain on your face is as clear as day."

He was startled at those words and she could see a spark of hope in his eyes. Maybe he was remembering exactly why he had married his wife in the first place. The man tossed the cigarette to the ground and stubbed it out. "I think that I should go make up with my wife." He said in a determined tone. "Thanks..."

"Sujata. You're welcome."

He nodded. "Aditya. Wish me luck." He trotted off in the opposite direction. Sue watched until he lost amidst a tangle of apartment complexes in the distance. Back into the city, where life wasn't all beach parties and strawberry daquiris, where one had to work hard to get what they wanted.

"Good luck." She whispered, wondering if her words could make a difference.

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