the belated friendship-anniversary fic i wrote for sydney has arose from the great computer crash! huzzah! btw, the text convo was stolen from "texts from last night"- awesome site. you should go visit :D


r o u n d . i n . c i r c l e s

Go back to the place we knew before
Retrace our steps to the basement door,
I'll ask you if the rain still makes you smile,
Like so much time that we spent in the fall
It put color in our cheeks while the air turned cold,
Preceding what became our bitter end.

-circles, all time low

--

mem⋅o⋅ry; the mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving facts, events, impressions, etc., or of recalling or recognizing previous experiences

--

Moving on.

From a young age, we detest the idea of leaving what we know to be comfortable and safe behind and changing and adapting for something new. We hate moving forward when it seems like there's perfection in the present. Sometimes we wish that time could just freeze and we could stay in that moment for an eternity.

But sooner or later, we have to move on.

And that was what he dreaded more than anything.

--

Eighteen years.

Eighteen years of periwinkle skies and the dewy scent of Briarwood Academy soccer fields and pale blond hair.

Eighteen years of totaled cars and drunken highs and waking up with no memory of the night before.

Eighteen years of ice cold heat and smashed bottles of Grey Goose and the best friends a person could ever have.

Eighteen years of Westchester, New York.

--

"Come awn, Jawshie!" she squeals and grabs his sticky hands before running toward the swings of the playground, curls flying behind her.

"Let's go, J! Party's already started!" she shouts over the pulsing music and makes her way to the center of the dance floor, hips swaying rhythmically.

"Pick up the pace, slowpoke!" she grins, jogging backwards as she laps him, iPod blasting "Here in Your Arms" by Hellogoodbye, before sprinting down the track.

He hurries to keep up, but she's just so flighty, it's impossible to stay on the same page. Life seemed to be an endless game of tag with Claire Lyons.

--

"I'm leaving. And I'm taking the children with me," his mother says in a deadly calm voice, luggage in hand. His father sits at the majestic mahogany table, head in hands, and he wonders if his seemingly all-powerful daddy is actually crying. But he raises his head and his eyes are cold and cruel.

"Fine. Go. Never come back here. But Josh and Ariana stay with me. I can, and will, take this to court if necessary."

Her eyes, creased and kind, well up with tears as she spots him hiding behind the banister. He shakes his head adamantly.

Say no. Don't go. Please don't go. Stay here. Stay with me. I need you.

She lets out a choked sob before running to the door, leaving behind a broken-hearted son in her wake.

--

"Shh... I'm here. I'm here. Don't cry, Josh. Please don't cry." she says in a soothing voice, stroking his head with her hand the way his mother used to before she left.

His tears soak her cotton shirt but she only tightens her hold on him, closing her eyes and gently kissing the top of his head.

"P-promise me that you'll... you'll never go?" he whispers, voice hoarse and tired from lack of sleep.

"I'll always be here with you," she says simply, idly running a hand through his tousled hair. "I'll never leave you."

--

"I dare you to... kiss Claire," Olivia says triumphantly, lips curving into a smirk. Derrick glowers in her her direction as Josh moves from his position in the circle around the bonfire and starts crawling toward his best friend, apprehension flashing across his face. Claire squeezes Derrick's hand reassuringly and kneels down to his level. Their lips crash together awkwardly, and he pulls away after three Mississippi's, face flushed with embarrassment.

The game continues. Kemp is forced to run into the icy waters of the ocean beside the beach in nothing but Dylan Marvil's string bikini, Allie-Rose is forced to seduce an unsuspecting beach-goer, and Chris Plovert is forced to eat three bags of marshmallows before running to puke in the closest trash can. Finally, Olivia announces that she's bored and wants to go home. Everyone obediently obeys the self-proclaimed queen of the ninth grade and begins packing up.

"Hey Claire...?" He says tentatively and she turns, eyes lowered.

"Yeah, Josh?"

"That kiss... uh, well..."

"Josh, can I be completely honest with you?" She interrupts, lifting her blue-eyed gaze from the sand. He nods and she bits her lips nervously. "You kiss like a dead fish."

"You are so dead, Lyons."

--

From: Claire [617-145-9782]

To: Josh [617-978-3211]

Message: i don't understand. how could your date have sucked so much? kori's cool..

--

From: Josh [617-978-3211]

To: Claire [617-145-19782]

Message: maybe i would have liked her more if 99 percent of her sentences didn't start with "yesterday, when i was reading twilight..."

--

From: Claire [617-145-9782]

To: Josh [617-978-3211]

Message: oh, i see

--

"Hey Claire, I just wanted to-"

"Claire, I'm sorry-"

"C, baby, forgive me-"

"How long are you going to do this Clair-"

"She was a mistake, I didn't mean to-"

She slams the END button on her voice mail, abruptly ending Derrick Harrington's ramblings, and he stares at her with empty eyes, frowning.

"I'm leaving, Josh." she says with finality.

--

"Don't go," he whispers, clutching her hand in the crowded airport terminal, eyes pleading, begging.

She looks at him with a mix of sorrow and pity, raising her free hand to stroke his scuffed cheek with a sad smile.

"This is what I need, J. I really need this. Please, just let me go. I'll come back soon. I promise." She crosses her heart and gently pulls away, boarding a flight to Los Angeles, California without another look back- an escape from her hellish life and to turn over a new leaf.

A part of him dies when she leaves.

--

He calls her everyday and he's scared that one day she won't pick up because she's forgotten about him.

So when she picks up, the first thing he says is that he misses her and he wants more than anything for her to come home.

Everyday she says that she misses him too and that she will come back and that he doesn't need to waste his cell phone money to call every night.

It's my dime, he says and he wishes that she could understand how much she means to him and how badly he needs to hear her voice everyday.

One day she doesn't pick up. He rolls up into a fetal position and doesn't sleep that night.

--

"Hey," her breathy voice says cheerily through the payphone and he's too relieved to be angry and smiles.

"Hey. Why didn't you pick up last night?"

There's an uncertain pause and he hears her fiddling with something in the background.

"Oh, you know. Stuff..."

"What kind of stuff?"

"Stuff stuff."

"What kind of stuff stuff?"

"What is this, twenty questions?"

"Maybe."

"Josh," she sighs and lets out a soft chuckle. "Turn around."

And he whips around to see his best friend grinning through the cheap plastic of the payphone window and he can't stop staring.

Her hair's longer, waist-length maybe, and her infectious grin seems to glow brighter. She enters the door and hugs him and he breaths in the mixed scent of Elixir 5 Gum, Marc Jacob's Daisy, and Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccinos she practically inhales down every time they got to Starbucks.

"I'm never going to let you go again."

--

nyandclaire: i cannot believe you.

hotsforhotz: what? /innocent face/ what did i do?

nyandclaire: don't give me that, hotz. you know what you did. but honestly... why?

hotsforhotz: you didn't hear the stuff he said about you! the way he was talking... it was sick. like, actually sick. i hate him for making you leave and you have no idea how angry i was when he said all that shit. i hate derrick harrington.

nyandclaire: so you had to beat the crap out of him just because he said a few bad things me? you could have gotten suspended! or expelled!

hotsforhotz: but...

nyandclaire: don't give me that! hurting him like that wasn't necessary!

nyandclaire has left.

hotsforhotz: claire? claire? CLAIRE?

nyandclaire: but thanks for doing it anyway :)

--

"Prom is stupid."

"No, it's not! It's part of the high school experience and I swear on Jacob Black, if you don't go, I will castrate you."

"I don't have a date, though." She raises an eyebrow and taps her chin thoughtfully.

"Huh... well, I can get you a date. You take care of the tux and limo and stuff and leave the rest up to me."

He opens his mouth to retort but thinks better of it and keeps it shut. If he wants to be able to have procreate when he's older, he had better listen to her.

--

"Dude. You look like you're about to have a seizure," he laughs, absently fiddling with his gold silk tie. Chris Plovert turns to glare and nervously runs a hand through his slightly gelled, dishwater blonde hair.

"Shut up, Hotz. I'm just a little... jittery, okay?"

He (fails to) muffle an amused snort and nods.

"Sure you are..."

He knows that Plovert's can't stop thanking his lucky stars for getting to take Claire Lyons to Senior Prom and is worried he'll screw it up with the girl he's harbored a major crush on for the past three years. But it doesn't stop him from laughing at the poor guy's anxious, "I'm-going-to-shit-a-brick" expression.

"Hey guys!" a bubbly voice says from the top of the stairs. Plovert's mouth falls open when he sees her descending the stairs gracefully in the vibrant, buttercup-yellow silk gown with a sweetheart neckline. Delicate sterling silver earrings dangle from her lobes and a cluster of diamond bangles hang from her slender wrist. Her sun-soaked blonde curls are styled into an elaborate bun with a few tendrils falling loose.

"Y-you look fantastic, Claire." Plovert manages to stutter and he can't help but agree.

"Yeah, C. You actually look like a girl for one." He nods in assent and she playfully smacks his shoulder.

"Shut up, Josh. Now, I'd like to introduce you to your date."

Another girl shyly approaches from the stairs and she's so breathtakingly beautiful with her warm brown eyes like melted chocolate and lustrous raven-colored waves that he can't stop staring.

"This," Claire smirks at his open-mouthed awe. "Is Alicia Rivera. One of my best friends from Cali. I'm sure you two will get along just fine..."

--

She tilts her head back and lets out a tinkling laugh as he twirls her under his arm.

"So, you've known Claire long?" Alicia inquires curiously. He smiles like it's a reflex (which after eighteen years of dumping sand down each others shirts and sharing grape-and-passion-fruit-flavored popsicles, it had better be) and lets out a chuckle.

"Yeah. We've been together since day one. Well, actually since day fifteen, because that's the gap between our birthdays... but yeah. Best friend doesn't even cover it."

"I figured," She nods, baring her dentist-approved teeth into a wide smile. "She never shut up about you when we shared a dorm back in LA."

"Really? Hmm... good stuff or bad stuff?"

"Um..." Alicia pretends to think as "Secret Valentine" by We the Kings ends and lifts the folds of her crimson and burnt gold taffeta gown, as he held out his arm to lead her to the punch table for a break. "Good stuff, once in a while. But it was mostly bad. Do you really have a naked picture of Heidi Klum pasted on the inside of your Calc notebook?"

"No!" he blurts quickly, eyes widening with worry. "Shit, what else did she tell you?"

"I made that one up," Her perfectly shaped brows knit with amusement as he opens and closes his mouth, trying to fix the damage. "Are all guys as pervy as you are?"

"I am not a perv," He gives her a lazy half-smile. "I just happen to fully appreciate the female body. Is that such a crime? I'm going to be a doctor someday, you know."

"Two words for you- Perv. Ert." She sticks out her tongue disgustedly but her twinkling chocolate orbs suggest the opposite. "Oh, well. I suppose guys are just programmed to be horn dogs."

"Why, my dear Watson, I think you've hit it right on the head!" he says in a terrible British accent and she laughs to show she forgives him.

"Stop flirting!" Claire says loudly as she and Plovert whisk by, undoubtedly to the nearest empty coatroom. Plovert's grin is wild and Claire smirks as they stumble out the exit. She sends a clandestine wink of approval in Josh's direction as they disappears behind the cherry oak doors.

--

"Dartmouth is my dream," he says with forced conviction, reading the acceptance letter in his slightly shaking hands. She raises her head and a curtain of pale blonde hair falls in front of her unusually serious face.

"No. It's not your dream. It's someone else's. You want something more from life. Don't lie to yourself- you'll make yourself miserable."

She's wise beyond her years but he still doesn't have the courage. She nods because he needs time and she'll always support him, no matter what he chooses.

And that's why he vows he'll never hurt her.

--

"Congratulations, Briarwood Academy's Class of 2011!"

He sweeps up his West Coast girlfriend-of-three-weeks in a kiss as hundreds of gold-tasseled, navy silk graduation caps go flying into the air and she smiles up at him through her coal-black lashes.

"This isn't even my school's graduation... but it sure as hell feels like it," Alicia whispers, pulling away for a moment. "God, I love New York." He grins back at her and tightens his hold on her slender waist.

"Just wait till tonight at Kemp's graduation party," He smirks and waggles his eyebrows suggestively. "Then we'll-"

"Josh!" Her shout is barely audible over the noise of the boisterous high school graduates celebrating, but both he and Alicia hear and glance at each other. Alicia smiles knowingly as he gives her a sheepish grin and squeezes her manicured hand before turning away. Immediately, a flurry of sun-kissed blonde hair and and billowing navy robes crashes into his open arms and they stand there, squeezing each other tightly for what feels like an eternity. Eventually she pulls away, and he absently tucks a flyaway curl behind her ear.

"So. Graduation. I guess that means we actually have to grow up now," she says in a serious voice and he raises an eyebrow.

"Yep. No more pelting Principal Burns with water balloons the week before classes start. No more spray-painting Derrick's garage with embarrassing secrets about how he used to wet his pants when we all went to camp together in middle school. No more prank-calling Olivia and telling her that she's won the 'Most Talented and Gorgeous Alpha' award of New York and have her drive all the way to NYC to pick up her prize."

Claire cracks a smile at the last one and nods.

"Yep. No more wreaking havoc."

There's a long pause before they burst out laughing.

"No more wreaking havoc? Please. NYU isn't going to know what hit them."


kind of random and jumbled... but, yay for purely platonic, non-romantic-related friendship fics? review, please =) that would make my day.