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“You're doing it again.”

“Huh?” Tate snapped to attention. Ang was leaning close to her, looking into her face.

“That thing, where you stare off into space. Are you thinking about him again?” he demanded. She frowned.


“Tate. We talked about this,” Ang said, his voice full of warning.

“Ang. Stop. You're not my dad,” she warned him right back.

“But he's the one who -,”

She reached over and singed his hand with her cigarette. Ang hissed and yanked his arm back, jumping out of her reach. She laughed and flicked the cigarette over the ledge before wiping her hands down the front of her skirt.

“I wasn't thinking about him. Let's have a good night, just this once,” she pleaded, before grabbing his hand and leading him inside.

“I can't stand all these yuppies,” Ang whispered under his breath as they made their way through a crush of people. Tate elbowed him.

“They're not yuppies,” she mumbled back.

“They all have more money than I'll ever have. In my opinion, that makes them yuppies.”


“Why did you tell me to come to this thing?” he complained, pulling at the tie he was wearing. She stepped in front of him and batted his hands away.

“I haven't seen you in a couple weeks, I thought it would be nice to hang out,” she replied, adjusting the Windsor knot for him.

“What, so you can show off all your new friends?” Ang said, his tone snide. Tate glared at him and yanked the knot up high. He made a choking sound.

“Shut up.”

Nick had invited her to a party, some shindig that was being thrown for the whole team, in a fancy hotel suite. She hadn't really wanted to go, but even Nick was beginning to worry about her spending so much time at home. Tate had originally asked Sanders to go with her, but he didn't like parties. Or people. Or places. So she had figured what the hell, why not try to mend fences with Ang?

It wasn't going too hot.

“I gotta go soon anyway,” he told her as they made their way to a table full of food. She looked up at him.

“Where? I told you this thing would be going for a while,” Tate reminded him, a little surprised. Ang shrugged.

“I know, but I had other plans. Sorry, kitty cat,” he replied, rubbing his hand up and down her back.

She frowned, but didn't argue. The same thing had happened the last couple times they had made an effort to hang out. Ang always had “other plans”; something he else had to do. It was frustrating. Hard to mend a friendship when one person was depressed, and the other was checked out all the time.

“Hey! I was looking everywhere for you!”

Tate felt a strong arm wrap around her shoulders, then she was pulled sideways into a solid chest. She smiled and looked up at Nick. There were many times over the last six weeks that she had argued with herself about him. Told herself that she should like him. Or at least fake it until it happened for real. He was really good looking, semi-famous, wealthy, nicer than any normal person should be, and it also didn't hurt that she knew he wasn't bad in bed, either. Maybe not quite her tastes, but she was sure she could learn to live with it.

But Tate hadn't been able to talk herself into it. She knew she was a horrible liar, and she didn't want to do that Nick, use him like that; at least, not yet. Maybe after a couple more weeks of feeling like she wanted to claw her skin off, she would be able to do it. She was working on hardening herself.

“She's been with me,” Ang replied around a mouth full of hors d'oeuvres, not bothering to look at Nick. He didn't like the other man, though Tate couldn't figure out why. Nick was like a kitten, only in sexy-human-man form. Who wouldn't love him?

Besides her, that is.

“I'm glad you guys came. Tate said she didn't want a birthday party, so I thought maybe this could be like a substitute,” Nick laughed. Tate managed a smile. Her birthday was the next day. That meant Christmas was three weeks away. More depression.

“Yeah, awesome birthday party. Tate just loves high rises and yuppies,” Ang grunted. Tate scowled and kicked him in the ankle.

“Ang,” she hissed. Nick glanced down at her.

“It's alright. I know it's not really your guys' scene. It's not really mine, either. I grew up in a town of less than 2,000 people – I still don't know how to put on a tie right,” he chuckled. She smiled up at him.

“Good for you. I gotta go. Tate, walk me out,” Ang said, shoving a last sausage roll in his mouth before grabbing her hand and dragging her away from Nick.

“Rude, much!? And you said soon! I didn't realize you meant right now!” Tate snapped as she was pulled out the front door.

“I can't be around these people, that guy,” Ang replied, letting go of her hand once they were in the hallway.

“What's with you and him? He is one of the nicest people I've ever met, what could you possibly not like about him?” Tate demanded. Ang frowned and stared down the hallway.

“It's not him, he's fine. I mean, kind of boring, but yeah, nice. I just ...,” his voice trailed off. Tate crossed her arms. She was fed up.

“Just what, Ang? We never see each other anymore, and the few times we do, you're always rushing off somewhere – but not before being a complete dick. Is it me? Just say it. I'll stop calling. Is it him? Cause that's not -,” she started, but suddenly Ang stomped right up to her. Got in her personal space, forced her to back up into a wall. She pressed herself flat, staring up at him. He looked mad.

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