there's three ways out of every box

fall out the bottom or you crawl out the top

there's three ways out of every, every box

and if you can't find your way out

then you just burn it to the ground

then you disappear, like smoke, into the clouds

They were stuck in a holding pattern, Auggie thought, not for the first time, as Annie had dropped him off at his apartment after an evening at the bar. They had been for awhile...they were friends, absolutely, and god willing, always would be.

But lately Auggie had felt penned in by the boundaries of the friend zone. He resented the fact that he'd actually felt awkward waiting for her at the hospital. He was her best friend, he shouldn't have to feel awkward about it. But he had, because he'd been more worried than he knew he had any right to be.

That wasn't the only ominous cloud on the horizon. Even after learning that Annie had broken up with Doctor Scott, it still bothered him to have to think about the man now and again. Yes, he was surprised to find himself a little jealous, but it was very manageable. More to the point, he was incredibly bothered he hadn't found out from Annie herself.

That little omission of hers had flipped a switch somewhere in the back of Auggie's mind. A restless, antsy, intensely curious switch. He knew it was crazy, but there was a small part of him that wanted to corner her and ask what else she wasn't telling him, and why.

And that wasn't best friend behavior either. Best friends accept you for who you are without explanation, they definitely don't back you against walls and demand a justification. But he supposed Annie wasn't the only one keeping secrets. Auggie could barely admit to himself what his feelings meant, he certainly wasn't going to tell her about them.

So they were stuck.


The next time she asked if he wanted a ride to Allen's, he paused. And said no.

"Oh," she said, then paused for an extra fraction of a second, and he knew that either a question or a deflection was coming next, but not which. It was in precisely this kind of tiny lapse that Auggie most wished to see her face, her expression, to know whether her eyes were looking at him or the floor.

"I think I'll do my drinking at home tonight," he preempted her drolly. "It's cheaper."

"Yeah, definitely," Annie replied. He heard her push off fom leaning against the desk, but she didn't move her feet, and he suppressed a smile. "You coming?" He asked, nonchalant.

She paused another fraction of a second, and this time he strained mentally without moving, praying for some sort of signal that could be heard...

She hummed. So briefly that anyone else might have written it off as simply exhaling, but it was definitely a hum, a pleased sound. "Sure," she said, just as nonchalantly, but his pulse quickened anyway, and he smiled as she hip-checked him and then left without another word, her shoes tapping softly against his office floor.