Somewhere Only We Know

Greetings! Alright, so the lovely Maxomi fans asked me to do a fic starring one of our favorite pairings, Naomi Clark and Max Miller. I'm more than happy to oblige. This takes place in the fall of their freshmen years at California University (Naomi) and CalTech (Max). Max has convinced his parents to let him try out CalTech for a semester but his parents are not happy with the decision and that includes the catalyst for the decision (Naomi). Meanwhile, Naomi is struggling to keep up her grades and keep her social life in order.

The main characters and some guest characters are included in the fic, so if a season 3 plot you remember is included, it's because it's tied to this story as well. I've decided to eliminate the "Naomi is pregnant" storyline.

Okay, so before I talk about this next subplot, please know that I love Navid/Adrianna and don't mind Lannie really. However, the UC possibilities of Liam/Adrianna intrigue me immensely, especially since I hear that there's some interaction this season. A couple people asked me to do a L/A subplot that's more comic and over-the-top so that's here too. Liam and Ade are extra...well, let's just say they're not the sharpest tools in the box. It's all meant in good fun and turned up to ten. Maxomi's plot is much more standard. The first couple chapters have a little serious "Lade" and then Adrianna is eventually forgiven as she and Naomi become friends. So please no Lade bashing if you're not interested in seeing Liam with her or don't like Adrianna as a character. It's all fiction and it's all fun, right? :)

Max and Liam's POVs start in chapter 2. Ladies first. :) Hope you enjoy! Reviews are always appreciated.

Love You Like A Love Song is the property of Selena Gomez.

You Found Me is the property of The Fray.

In college, you can be one of either three things: a guppy, a piranha, or a shark. This is the only nugget of wisdom dispensed to Naomi Clark before her arrival at California University and it was delivered by her sister Jen pre-massage. A guppy is a follower, following the tide, not making huge waves, blending in with the current. A piranha has a voracious appetite, trying out various things, then eagerly chomping down on something they like. A shark rules the water, intimidating others with its carriage, a sly and thirsty animal ready for whatever comes their way. Of course, her boyfriend Max Miller explained all of these facts to her in one of his offhand lectures but Naomi totally kept up with the biological explanations Max gave to go with Jen's advice. She's good like that.

Whatever the case, Naomi is determined to be a shark. She was a top dog in high school and she doesn't see why she can't be a top dog in college. Sure, there are more people, and her clique isn't as close as they once were, but she thrived in new social situations. They didn't elect her Homecoming queen and prom queen for nothing. With this strictly on her mind, Naomi walks confidently across the CU quad in her red Jimmy Choo pumps. She got into CU, thanks to her grades and Max's support, and today she's getting into the toughest circle at the university- the Homecoming court. Her mother and Jen were in their classes' courts and she'd like to keep up the tradition. Nobody is standing in her way.

"Naomi!" greets Erin Silver, popping up in front of her.

"Ugh, you ruined my strut," sighs Naomi. "It was slow-motion worthy. But if you must..."

"Slow-motion walks are cheesy," waves off Silver. "Guess what? I just found out I'm going to be treasurer for the Film Society!"

"You don't get paid for that, do you?" says Naomi.

Silver's face falls.

"I mean, yay!" says Naomi, with a forced smile. "The Film Society is...greeeeat."

"They're relatively new. Have you signed up for any clubs?" says Silver.

"Well, I was kind of meandering to the Homecoming court table," says Naomi. "Most of us Greeks usually give it a run."

Nodding absent-mindedly, Silver appears as interested in Naomi's sorority life as Naomi was in her Film Society. Best friends don't have to like the same things, and they've been content with that for a number of years. Unfortunately, someone who's far from a best friend is interrupting Naomi's stroll as well.

"Naomi, Erin!" greets Harper Davies.

Silver gives Harper the side-eye for being called by her first name while Naomi maintains her fake enthusiastic smile.

"No hard feelings if I make the court over you guys," says Harper. "I'm more college Homecoming princess material. They prize brains over beauty, even though I'm not lacking in either. Plus I happen to have a lot of sway in the Student Council, on the campus newpaper, on the campus radio station, in the Recycling Club, among the Pepsi Scholarship recepients, in the Dart Club..."

Naomi wonders if Harper drank a dozen bottles of Pepsi while Silver steps behind Harper, miming that she wants to throw a dart at her. This girl would not shut up. Thankfully, someone at the Homecoming Court table is waving Naomi over.

"I gotta go," says Naomi.

"That's hunky dorey," assures Harper. "I can tell Erin all about blondes statistically doing a better job at securing Homecoming votes. It's quite a funny coincidence."

"Why," mouths Silver as Harper takes her arm.

She will be forever grateful to Mandy Peeples for rescuing her from Harper's calculations. She doesn't mind hearing Max discuss math, because it's undeniably adorable, and he's so confident yet modest about his intelligence, including being valedictorian. Harper came in fourth in the class but she acts like she'd made the valedictory speech. What a rush that was, the whole day still firmly set in her mind. Max admitted that he was responsible for the altered essay to the entire school. Heads with caps turned. Gowns shuffled. Naomi's jaw dropped. The guts that took, the romance of the scene, and the unpredictability of the act overwhelmed her. She wasn't really sure it was real until Max's lips were pressed on hers afterwards. However, they're dealing with the fallout of his beautiful act. Naomi instinctively stares at her watch. Max would be leaving class at Cal Tech right about now. He could be at M.I.T. or Princeton or some other school on the East Coast that collected nerds like Beanie Babies. That he sacrificed so much to be with her meant the world to her. But wouldn't it mean more to Max to be at his dream school? He always avoided the question when she brought it up as if it were some forbidden secret he couldn't discuss or get a handle on. Naomi hopes they can handle all of this.

Mandy, her auburn ponytail swaying, shakes hands with Naomi as soon as she reaches the table. The Homecoming table is very colorful and exciting, with yearbooks on display, garlands of roses running across bright banners, a tiara on a velvet pillow, and a gold scepter resting on a small base.

"You get a scepter!" cries Naomi in shock. "I mean, nice tiara."

"Of course you get a scepter," laughs Mandy. "This isn't high school anymore."

"I already perfected my wave," says Naomi, doing her half-closed, newly manicured hand version. "It's already being copied by the West Bev class of 2015."

"That's the kind of spunk we're looking for," says Mandy.

"I'm ready to spunkily scrawl my name on the sign-up sheet," says Naomi, holding out her hand. "If I won this, my mom would pull a Kris Jenner and have a reality TV show camera crew taping her crowned daughter in the parade for a special."

Mandy beams. "Fingers crossed."

"Maybe after my nails dry," says Naomi.

Naomi starts to sign her name at the end of page,, three. Wow. Homecoming is no joke here. Okay, there are a lot of people who want to be sharks. She's not about to swim in retreat, though. She signs away, dotting the "i" in her name with a grin.

Suddenly, her cell rings. The anthem of Avatar, Leona Lewis' "I See You" which she will be forever fond of, plays. She immediately answers.

"Booty call!" says Naomi as she wanders from the table.

"Stop," says Max with a slight chuckle. "So did the football players faint when you went up to the Homecoming table?"

"Yeah, they're bringing in the paramedics as we speak," replies Naomi.

"I wouldn't want you to miss the excitement," kids Max. "Although, I do have some exciting news."

"You got into Menstrual!" cries Naomi gleefully.

"No, and ewww, it's Mensa," says Max.

"Oops, that's what I meant," says Naomi.

"But you are on the right track," insists Max. "I got into...Alpha Lambda Delta."

"Is that a frat or does that have to do with Delta Airlines?" says Naomi, scratching her nose. "Oh wait. Silver mentioned that club once..."

"It's a very old honors society, fairly prestigious," explains Max. "They very rarely invite freshmen in the first semester but I did do those summer courses so I guess...well, I'm not sure why they want me...I'm being inducted with a couple transfer students."

"Of course they want you!" insists Naomi. "Just like I do."

"Thanks," says Max shyly.

"We have to celebrate!" says Naomi. "Table for two at the Ivy? My treat."

"Actually, I called to ask you to come to dinner," says Max.

"Umm...let me think about it," teases Naomi. "No, duh, I'll come, you brawny brainiac."

"You may want to think about it longer because...dinner will be with my...," stammers Max.

No, not the P-word. Anything but the p-word.

"Please say your optometrist," breathes Naomi into the phone.

"My parents," provides Max.

The last time Naomi saw the Millers they were in their seats at graduation, silently seething and squirming in their chairs. They were visibily upset that Max redid her paper, got suspended, and that he'd mentioned Cal Tech to them. God only knows how they're feeling with Max's decision to attend CalTech full-time. Break out the whips for her, and for once, Naomi's not thinking of the sexy things you could do with them.

"Excellent," says Naomi. "They get to dine with the ditz that jacked up their genius son's future."

"Not true in the slightest," comforts Max. "Can you meet me at Larry's Laundromat on Vine? I'm coming home for the weekend."

"Laundromat?" balks Naomi.

"Yeah," says Max saucily. "We both know how dirty you can get."

"Do you kiss your preschool teacher mother with that mouth?" returns Naomi.

"I'd rather be kissing yours," replies Max. "Seven?"

"I'll be the one waiting to get it on on the washing machines," says Naomi.

"Oh, behave," says Max in a dorky Austin Powers accent.

"No," says Naomi, giving the tiara a last look before hanging up.


Adrianna Tate-Duncan scans through her Rolodex, searching for a familiar number. Dr. Carolyn Schwartz vowed that she'd be on call whenever, for whatever. Her prescription is safely tucked into her purple purse. Her purse shakes next to her trembling body and she prays it might be different after she gets her pills and the meds slide down her throat. Taking a seat on the granite wall of a flimsy sculpture garden, Adrianna dials Dr. Schwartz.

"Hello?" says a throaty voice on the other end.

"Hello? Dr. Schwartz?" says Adrianna.

"Adrianna," identifies Dr. Schwartz. "It's nice to hear from you. Is something the matter?"

"I'm," shares Adrianna. "Like we talked about. Both of them should be here. Or I'll ask when they're available."

"I'm proud of takes a lot of courage," says Dr. Schwartz.

"I'll be like the Tin Man," asserts Adrianna.

"No, Adrianna," says Dr. Schwartz. "The lion is the one who's connected to finding courage."

"Dr. Schwartz, you may be an expert on psychology, but I'm an expert in movies," says Adrianna. "The Tin Man was always courageous and the lion was scared all the time until the end. He called himself a sissy, I remember."

"Good Lord," sighs Dr. Schwartz. "Well, good luck."

Adrianna folds her phone with a satisfied smile, that immediately becomes a frown as she reads the words above the front door. Shirazi Studios. Last year, Navid was none too keen on her showing up to score a cameo in the Nelly video. He said horrible things, things he never took back. She wouldn't be surprised if he slammed the door in her face or called security on her. And I'm little so they could totally ruin my shoes if they throw me in the dumpster, thinks Adrianna in horror. She's been trashed by her friends and the media enough. Yet Dr. Schwartz insisted that Adrianna couldn't truly move on until she attempted to make peace with them and more importantly herself. Ripping off Javier, using Maisy, switching Silver's pills. These weren't small crimes. Dr. Schwartz finally determined the reason a month into their sessions- narcissistic personality disorder. Suddenly it made sense as to why she let the drive for power and prestige take over everything else including her first true love. She couldn't and wouldn't solely blame her disorder for her actions yet it soothed her into believing she wasn't a vile monster. Now she only has to keep up with her medications and therapy sessions, making the most of this new aspect of her life.

This is the first moment for her to take advantage of her new knowledge, to not be that person. Adrianna pushes through the glass doors of the studio, approaching the front desk where a young Persian woman, around eighteen, is surfing the Internet while popping gum.

"Hi, my name is Adrianna...," begins Adrianna.

"Yeah, I'm not the secretary," waves off the woman. "Checking my e-mail real quick. If you're looking for my cousin, he's in his office."

Right. Adrianna approaches the elevator, waiting for it to come down. She notices that there's less security and less employees walking the halls. The atmosphere is certainly not the same. Navid's studio used to be buzzing with energy. Now it's like the building is yawning. If buildings could yawn, adds Adrianna inwardly. She boards the elevator. Two men in sharp suits join her when the elevator reaches the second floor.

"Mmmm, we're in a music video production company, and no elevator music," jokes the taller of the two. "I love that corny stuff."

"Doesn't give me much faith in booking our artists in this trap," kids the other.

" you like a love song, baby," sings Adrianna. "I...I love you like a love song, baby. I...I love you like a love song, baby. And I keep hittin' repeat-peat-peat-peat-peat-peat."

The two men stare at her awkwardly, say nothing when they exit the elevator on the fourth floor.

"They said they liked music," pouts Adrianna as the doors close after them.

Adrianna leaves the elevator, starts down the hall when it opens on the sixth floor. Once she reaches the middle of the hallway, she can hear crunching and then munching, crunching and then munching. Navid's door is open a slit. She peers inside. Navid's pet Bernstein snatches for another piece of gourmet lettuce as his owner holds him lovingly. Then Berstein releases a trail of drool that sticks to the buttons of Navid's left sleeve. Gagging, Navid situates him into his glass cage, complete with a water dish, a sand pit, and a stuffed Geico Gecko with green sunglasses. A ticked Bernstein head-butts the side of the cage.

"Hey!" chastises Navid. "You better stay in there or I'll..."

Tenderly knocking, Adrianna pops her head into the room. Navid sits up straight in his chair with a frown. Adrianna curses herself for being attracted to his neatly cut dark hair, his smooth skin, and that adorable nose she made it a habit to kiss. She almost feels like she's not allowed to be attracted to him anymore.

"I didn't mean to interrupt you feeding your baby dragon...," begins Adrianna.

"It's an iguana, Ade," interrupts Navid sarcastically. "Herbivorous genus."

"I thought dinosaurs went extinct," mulls Adrianna before launching back into the conversation. "Could we talk for a few minutes? I promise to go right after we do."

"Not a good idea," says Navid. "Silver's waiting for me and we're going to lunch soon."

"I could treat you guys to lunch," suggests Adrianna. "Bring your dragon."

"Look, maybe you should go," says Navid, standing.

Adrianna watches him scurry out of the room, like she has the plague, like she's disgusting. Where was the Navid who used to love to be with her, who made living with her after he proposed seem like an easy choice? Hanging her head, Adrianna replays the chat she just had with Dr. Schwartz. She can summon up courage if this is the right to do and every bone in her body is saying that this is the right time and the right place. Jogging out of the office, she catches Navid's form ducking into an elevator.

"Navid!" she calls.

The doors close too fast for her to tell him to stop. The stairs, thinks Adrianna. She throws the doors to the stairs open, hurtling down them, two at a time. Pain shoots up her legs, and she's sure her feet will be aching tonight, but she doesn't care. Adrianna comes to the bottom, pushing herself out of a back door, decking her face in sunlight. Her feet stall as she stands in the rear of the parking lot to view a familiar vehicle. Silver is in the passenger seat of Navid's car, her eyes narrowed in Adrianna's direction. Adrianna takes a few steps toward her.

"Go home, Ade," says a wounded voice to her right. "Go home and save yourself some pain."

Navid's voice stays in the air, and the memory of what he's said, as he joins Silver in the car, cuts her in two. To them, she's done. She's done ruining their lives. Any hope of repaired relationships is done. Silver fusses with her shoulder-length hair while a blank look crosses her face. The car speeds off. Though Adrianna stands in the sunlight, its rays prickling her skin, she might as well be standing in ice. The aftermath of Silver's apparent anger practically freezes her to the pavement, which is hard, dark, and through Adrianna's tearful eyes, cloudy and ongoing.


Locking her BMW, twice, Naomi whirls around to take in the surroundings of Larry's Laundromat. She's none too thrilled. Rusty playground equipment stretches across a nearby park while the Chinese take-out place next door has a greasy guy sleeping in a bowl of shrimp fried rice. Here's hoping the interior is better. It's not, thinks Naomi, as she steps into the muggy air of the business. Abandoned socks are strewn on the floor. Open containers of detergent give off a scent that's a mix between toothpaste and the beach. She can't even describe the bodily funk travelling throughout the room.

"Stinkin' fabric softener bear making you believe doing laundry is a beautiful thing," groans Naomi. "Ugh."

She lifts her left Jimmy Choo to find a dryer sheet sticking there.

"Why do bad things happen to good shoes?" pouts Naomi.

Managing to detach the dryer sheet, Naomi goes further into the laundromat, hunting for her hot geek amid all the hot machines with swirling clothes.

"Oh my Arm and Hammer," says a fortysomething guy appreciatively.

"Not even," dismisses Naomi.

The guy goes back to folding his Green Lantern pajama bottoms.

She finally locates Max, who's counting and sorting change at a washing machine near the vending machines. With a bright grin, Naomi arrives at a spot inches from him and crosses her arms.

"Are you aware of the smells I had up my nose to get here?" teases Naomi.

"Are you aware that I missed you?" replies Max genuinely.

They embrace without any other pleasantries, Naomi holding his cheeks as she kisses him passionately. She swears...they could be apart for weeks and it's like they never left each other. Her jaw even hurts a little because their kiss is so forceful but it's a pain she definitely encourages. She pulls away to rub away her lipstick, Max helping her with a couple swipes. His shining chocolate-brown eyes would only be on her if she had the power and his attractive, clean-cut face should only be marred for a little while. He can't carry off Chanel lipstick forever.

"I assume you're nervous," says Max after a deep breath.

"I'm buggin' a bit," admits Naomi. "I was going to do yoga, but then I thought of Guru Sona and wanted to do Mau Thai kickboxing instead."

"Hey, I'd be willing to hold your purse for that," jokes Max.

"A real man can carry a purse," asserts Naomi.

Max scoops quarters into his hand and heads for a dryer. He slides in the coins and adjusts the settings.

"Why don't you send your stuff out?" asks Naomi. "And you totally left your pennies out in the open. Don't get me wrong, pennies are paltry, but a penny saved is a penny earned."

"Relax, Naomi," says Max, hitting the button. "Nobody has swiped them in all the years I've been coming."

"How long have you been coming here exactly?" says Naomi.

"A couple years," confesses Max. "But I'd rather do my own laundry. For the same reason I moved into the dorms, bought a used car, got a part-time job for the computer department...I like being independent."

"I know you like being independent," says Naomi. "I just don't know why you can't call the laundry service once in a blue moon."

"I'd prefer to call formerly blue girls," says Max.

"Can't knock you for that," says Naomi, leaning in for another kiss. "Okay, is Melanie coming to the dinner?"

Melanie Miller, Max's sixteen-year old sister, contacted Naomi via Facebook and she was pretty sweet. She could possibly be the sole Miller that won't shoot her death glares during dinner.

"She insisted," assures Max. "We're two peas in a pod. Don't worry about her."

"I'm worried about the other two," says Naomi. "Max, this is a big deal. Your parents? They might think I'm just some CU bimbo that busted your chances for Ivy League immortality."

"First, M.I.T. isn't an Ivy League institution," says Max, tenderly taking Naomi's shoulders. "Secondly, I was very clear-headed when I chose CalTech. Lastly, I was very clear and am still very clear that there's no other girl I want to meet my parents more than you."

"Awww," says Naomi.

She hugs him, her nose grazing the top of his Old Navy cotton shirt. She should really get him another one. Nah, she tells herself. Nah. It doesn't matter. He looks as good to her as she does to him.

"I'm sure they know there are intelligent people at CU, yourself included," says Max.

Naomi taps his shoulder, pointing to a guy in a CU sweatshirt stumbling into the laundromat. A friend trails him, laughing as he roughly opens a washing machine and turns the dial to rinse.

"Ah," groans the stumbling guy as he sticks his head in the washing machine.

"Oh yeah, there's some regular Isaac Screwtons in this set," waves off Naomi, rolling her eyes.

The guy appears more stoned than stupid, based on her observations.

"What...what are you doing?" stammers Max.

"My buddy bet me that I couldn't wash my hair in here," says the guy, sticking his head further inside. "Mmmm, somebody put in a blanket."

"Don't do that!" cautions Max, grabbing the guy by the shirt and steering him out of the laundromat.

"Whose pennies are these?" says the guy's friend, also stoned.

"Hey," says Naomi, lightly smacking his hand. "Don't touch those."


Her toes pinching in the tight stillettos covering her feet as she crosses the sand, Adrianna glances up from The Pennysaver on her Smartphone to the beach bar conveniently located between the pier and a swanky hotel. She knows the economy is hurting, but this? This? Well, she's hurting too, especially after she left the parking lot. She recalls the bittersweet expression on Navid's face as he got into his car, sliding in next to a stone-faced Silver in the passenger seat. Did they hate her that much? Did he hate her that much? She's done everything she can do in regards to them for right now, and now she has to do something for herself, even if it involves fake coconuts.

Cheerful, bouncy music blares over the speakers, Adrianna certain that she recognizes the tune from somewhere.

In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room
In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room

All the birds sing words and the flowers croon
In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room
Welcome to our tropical hideaway, you lucky people you!
If we weren't in the show starting right away,
We'd be in the audience too
All together!

Disney? Yes, it's Disney. This must be a unreleased track from Miley Cyrus' last album, only they've autotuned her voice so much that she sounds like a male with a Caribbean accent. Boy, the things they can do in the studio these days. But she has to focus on what she came here to do.

"Passion for part-time waitressing, you are officially turned on," says Adrianna to herself. "Knock 'em dead, Ade."

Though the bar is small, it's decorated quite nicely like a hut you'd find in a Hawaiian hideaway. Artificial palm leaves act as the awning, with bamboo stalks supporting the structure on the sides. Straws are housed in small clay holders/coconuts with tribal faces, while tiny umbrellas for drinks sit in a jar with a voodoo doll seated around the opening. Silver would probably love to do voodoo on her. Ugh, she has no chance if she's thinking of that during her job search, so it's time to buck up and make a good impression.

Adrianna tucks her resume into her Snoop Dogg folder and approaches the cash register. A hand hits the register hard. The drawer flies open, hitting the cashier squarely in the chest.

"Owwww, my pecs!" cries Liam. "At least there's a dollar in here."

Wait. Liam? Liam Court? Great, a guy who saw her get roasted in front of dozens of people is the one who might hire her. That was an awful night for her, Adrianna remembering all of the looks on their faces distinctly: Naomi, drunk but disgusted; Annie, appalled with crossed arms; Dixon and Liam, open-mouthed; Navid, clueless and then rightfully betrayed; Raj and Ivy, sharing shocked stares; Silver, angry, accusatory; Terry the stripper, waiting to be paid. When Naomi told her to leave, Adrianna knew it was an instruction not only to leave the room, but to leave their lives. They all hated her and most likely would never forgive her. She should've known what was coming. Pills always lead to heartache for her, particularly then. She hated what she did, and it almost didn't seem like her in hindsight. It's just that she felt so lost without her career, without Navid, and following Javier's death, without her moral compass. She definitely has her morals back but what good are they if nobody's willing to give her the opportunity to show them?

"This might be the last opportunity," breathes Adrianna.

Okay, the worst thing Liam can say is no, and she's heard "no" plenty of times the past few months. Emphasis on past. Adrianna nods, sighs deeply, and goes right up to the counter. Liam is fiddling with the register, seemingly amused by the drawer going in and out.

"Excuse me?" says Adrianna.

Liam looks up at her, squinting at her with interest.

"I'm...I'm here about the job," says Adrianna. "Is this a good time?"

"Uhhh," says Liam, glancing around and finally resting his eyes on her. "Yeah."

"If you want me to go...," starts Adrianna.

"Nobody else has come today," interjects Liam. "Let me see your resume."

Adrianna removes her resume from the folder.

"Sweet folder," compliments Liam. "I love some Snoop."

"Thanks," says Adrianna. "You know Dixon met and rapped with him, right?"

"And he didn't get me an intro," sighs Liam, flipping through her resume. "Snoop Doggy Doo-oooww-oggg. Snoop Doggy Doo-oooww-ogg. Get that doowwn. Yeah, yeah, yeah, owwww. Boowowowow yippyyo yippiyyay. Snoop Dogg definitely in the hoooouse."

She grins. Liam stops singing to read a few lines near the end.

"Okay, you have no customer service experience," says Liam. "You've got five lines of space between each sentence. You spelled West Bev wrong and didn't put that it was a high school. The whole resume's in pink ink..."

"Cute, huh?" says Adrianna. "And I needed the resume to bigger."

"Miss Adrianna Tate-Duncan," reads Liam with pleasure. "You spelled resume right. R-E-S-U-M-A-Y. What's a thespian?"

"Either it means I was bicurious, or an actress...I don't remember," answers Adrianna.

"Intrigued," admits Liam. "I also like that you got your G.E.D. which stands for Get Education Done, if I'm not mistaken?"

"You're smart," says Adrianna.

"I don't like that Joe Jonas is one of your references," says Liam.

"Shoot," says Adrianna, snapping her fingers. "That's my most impressive contact."

"Come sit down and I'll ask you some questions," offers Liam.

Tucking in her green Tom Ford skirt, she stumbles to climb onto the stool in her stillettos. Fashion will have to be sacrificed to finagle a job out of this guy, although it's more than worth it if it works.

"Do you eat food?" asks Liam.

"I kinda have to...sometimes," replies Adrianna. "Why, do you think I need to diet?"

"No, I just wanted to know," assures Liam. "Can you bake cookies or make microwave popcorn?"

"I can use a microwave if the instructions are nearby and not in Spanish," says Adrianna.

"Excellent," says Liam. "Those were the hardest questions I've ever asked and nobody's said the right answers so far. They were saying "you don't need a microwave because you don't serve food here'. I was like, think beyond the box, people. True, we only serve drinks currently, but we do serve pretzels and nuts. You can't eat the nuts. That's important so write it down."

Adrianna hurriedly fetches her vintage Moesha notepad and matching Brandy Norwood pencil.

"No nuts," says Adrianna, writing it on her pad.

"Alright, I'll call you," says Liam with a wide smile.

Call her? That's a total brush-off, basically. It sounded as if he was interested, and she got most of the questions correct, right? Eh, what a waste of five minutes. Adrianna frowns, getting off the stool and heading to the pier. She might as well stare out into the ocean, might as well look out at nothing, because that's where her life is headed...nowhere. Maybe she could go to community college for a couple years. Her mom would pay for that. In fact, it was the option her mother gave her right after she passed her G.E.D. Yet Adrianna thought it'd be best if she did things on her own. Best for who? The other girl that Liam is going to hire?

Her feet pound the planks of the pier. She rests them, sitting on the side, peering at the rocky surface. A couple of her tears join the brackish water. Her charm bracelet from Navid glints in the sun. She can see the reflection of the bracelet, fuzzy at first, and then becoming distinct. Why did she still have it on? Stupid question. A few feet away, a couple dances to a portable stereo, having just left a boat parked next to the pier. The blonde man in cargo shorts and the redhead in an orange and gold sarong are alternately kissing and swaying to the music. This song Adrianna can identify right off the bat. This song always made her identify the guy she loved most, her first love. Navid.

I found God
On the corner of First and Amistad
Where the west
Was all but won
All alone
Smoking his last cigarette
I said, "Where you been?"
He said, "Ask anything".

Navid, who asked her to marry him, with the engagement ring he sold his ipod for. Navid, who paid for her rehab without her having any knowledge about what he was doing. Navid, who let himself fall for Silver when his own girlfriend wouldn't pay him the slightest attention. He certainly has her attention now because he's constantly on her mind. Too little, too late.

Where were you
When everything was falling apart?
All my days
Were spent by the telephone
That never rang
And all I needed was a call
That never came
To the corner of First and Amistad

Why did she expect so much from him? Despite her fame-hungry actions and her ignorance, she honestly did expect him to love her forever and to be there for her when things got dark. Things are dark and she's alone. There's no way to be with him, no reason to have any more expectations. Her chest tightens at the thought. Her brains swims with dozens of sad thoughts. You deserve this, moans Adrianna inwardly. You deserve this.

"Excuse me?" says a voice, echoing her initial introduction to her interview, to her latest failure.

Adrianna closes her eyes, opens them to a pair of blue ones, dry and searching.

"What?" says Adrianna.

"I said I was going to call you," says Liam. "And I called your name from the back room."

He takes a seat next to her on the pier, something folded lying on his lap.

"You don't have to call me again because I know what you're going to say," says Adrianna, sniffling. "That I'm a horrible person. That I'm selfish and that you can't trust me because of what I did. And you'd be telling the truth."

She folds her hands together in her lap, wringing them. Liam scoots over until his waist is next to hers. He shifts the folded cloth to her lap.

"It's clean," says Liam, touching the apron. "For a clean slate?"

A clean slate? Like, a fresh start? Adrianna grins through her tears. For Liam to put his neck out for her says a lot about him. Over the years, she regarded him as Navid's friend, Naomi's extremely attractive ex, and Annie's man-meat, but today? He's her friend too. Plus, why wouldn't he understand out of all of them? He was nowhere near perfect yet he had no problem with it. Redemption was a road he'd taken, and she is ready to go down that road as well.

Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lyin' on the floor
Surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait?
Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me

"Really?" says Adrianna.

"Really," says Liam. "You gotta keep it clean, though. Understand?"

Adrianna more than understands, if he's saying what she believes he's actually saying. She nods repeatedly. This is her shot for a cleaner reputation and she's so not screwing things up. As if reading her mind, Liam shrugs.

"Being the bad boy...or the bad girl doesn't make you a bad person," says Liam. "You just gotta work harder to show there's another side to you."

"Thank you," says Adrianna.

In the end

Everyone ends up alone
Losing her
The only one who's ever known
Who I am
Who I'm not, who I wanna be
No way to know
How long she will be next to me

"Your folder won me over," offers Liam, with a slight chuckle.

She laughs. "It was either that folder or Kelly Clarkson from American Idol."

"My mom watched that," says Liam. "It was stupid but I like Simon because he's tough."

"He's...he's moved on from the show, Liam," shares Adrianna hesitantly.

"I like Simon," repeats Liam with a blank smile, staring off.

" do I," says Adrianna. "Hey, know what? We could play 'Gin and Juice' on the speakers's a bar!"

"Chhh yeah," says Liam. "That makes total sense! All I have is that dumb Disney Kids CD on constant rotation."

"Fist bump!" sing-songs Adrianna, raising her fist.

"Ugh, fine," says Liam, bumping his fist with hers.

"Sippin' on gin and juice," sings Adrianna. "Laid baaaaack..."

"With my mind on my money, and my money on my mind," finishes Liam with a laugh.

Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lyin' on the floor
Where were you? Where were you?
Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lyin' on the floor
Surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait?
Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me
Why'd you have to wait?
To find me, to find me

The dancing couple leaves as Adrianna continues to stare out at the open expanse of the ocean, startled when she spies an arm encircling her shoulders. She relaxes, casting a warm glance at Liam who brings her cheek close to his chest. Hearing a slower heartbeat than hers, she takes in the steady rhythm and smiles at the image of her bent body crystal-clear in the depths underneath.