Denver: I don’t know how!

Shepard: You, my technology-deprived friend, are sad.

Denver: I can still block you, ya know.

Shepard: Oh, did you finally figure that feature out? Look at you, getting all fancy with the technology! Gold star for Denny!

Denver: Allie showed me, you ass.

Shepard: I kind of figured.

Shepard: Wait…did she ask who you wanted to block?

Denver: It’s Allie—she’s nosy as all get-out, so yes.

Shepard: What’d you tell her?

Denver: What do you mean? The truth. Why would I lie?

Shepard: Did she say anything?

Shepard: About us…talking, I mean.

Denver: No.

Denver: Should she have?

Shepard: No. At least I don’t think so.

Shepard: It just surprises me.

Denver: Well, she did say one thing but it’s so stupid and it will never, EVER happen, so it’s not worth repeating.

Shepard: I’m sitting on the edge of my fucking seat here, nerd.

Shepard: Tell me.

Denver: Apologize for calling me a nerd and I’ll think about it.

Shepard: No. It’s the truth.

Shepard: Wait, no—you’re right. I’m so sorry for calling you a nerd, Den.

Shepard: Clearly, you’re not a nerd. You’re a geek.

Denver: Hate. You.

Shepard: Lies!

Shepard: Now tell me.

Denver: She said…and I’m quoting this so don’t get mad at me for the name…“Wouldn’t it be, like, so cute if you and Slug started dating? Then you two would be together forever like AJ and me. OH MY GOSH, DENNY! We could have a DOUBLE WEDDING!”

Denver: Then there was a lot of squealing and gagging happening.

Shepard: I’m going to assume the gagging was you trying not to puke at the thought of us getting married?

Denver: No. It was Allie because I choked the shit out of her to get her to shut up.

Shepard: DAMN! You’re dark, Den.

Shepard: I like it.

Shepard: Maybe we SHOULD think about this double wedding thing…

Denver: Don’t think I won’t choke you too.

Shepard: Stop pretending to hate me.

Denver: Never.

Shepard: I think I’ve figured out this whole AJ being a dumbass wanting to propose to Allie in high school thing.

Denver: Yeah? Hit me with it.

Shepard: Convince him not to propose and to instead give her a promise ring.

Denver: Like promise to be virgins until marriage?

Denver: You know it’s way too late for that, right? Those two bang like rabbits.

Shepard: Trust me, I know.

Shepard: But no, that’s not a promise ring, that’s a purity ring. A promise ring is more like a…pre-engagement ring.

Shepard: A promise of “forever”.

Denver: Hmm…I think this could work.

Denver: I also just want to point out that some people DO have a FOREVER.

Shepard: A very, very small number of people, as at least 50% of all marriages end in divorce.

Denver: Your optimism is the highlight of my day.

Shepard: So you’re saying texting with me is the highlight of your day?

Denver: If that’s the way you need to spin it, sure. We’ll go with that.

Shepard: Oh, it’s spun all right.

Shepard: Anyway, I’m going to talk to AJ about it tonight. I know you already told Allie…do you think she’d freak if AJ changed it to a promise ring?

Denver: No. I’ll just lie and tell her I got them mixed up.

Denver: Easy peasy.

Shepard: Lying to your best friend is that easy?

Denver: I lie to her all the time. She always asks me if the outfit she’s wearing looks good and I always say yes.

Denver: Spoiler alert: it’s a 50/50 shot.

Shepard: I’m 97% certain you just broke girl code.

Denver: *shrug* It’s worth the extra 30 minutes we don’t spend going through her closet for another outfit.

Shepard: SHAME!

Denver: Shep?

Shepard: Yeah?

Denver: Shut up.

Denver: I’m a little jealous of what Allie and AJ have.

Denver: There. I owed you a secret.

Shepard: Well, you’re about to owe me another one…

Shepard: I’m a little jealous of them too.

Denver: GASP! You? Shepard Clark, the cynic?

Denver: Do I have the wrong number?

Shepard: Don’t you tell anyone!

Denver: I’m shocked.

Shepard: That I want companionship?

Shepard: Just because I don’t believe in forever or tying myself to one person for years and years doesn’t mean I’m a robot and have no feelings or needs.

Shepard: It’d just be nice to have…someone, ya know. Not necessarily a traditional relationship, but someone I can talk to and count on to always be there. And someone I can kiss on the regular.

Denver: What about your “girlfriend”?

Shepard: Penny is great, but I can’t really make out with her anymore.

Denver: Your fake girlfriend’s name is Penny? That’s awfully close to Denny…

Shepard: Don’t remind me.

Denver: You said “anymore”. I’m gonna need details.

Shepard: Penny and I used to ACTUALLY date.

Denver: What happened?

Shepard: We had sex.

Denver: I’m sorry but…WHAT?

Shepard: We lost our virginity to one another, Penny realized she was gay, and that was that.

Denver: Is this why you don’t believe in love? Because you turned your first girlfriend into a lesbian with your terrible sex?

Shepard: First, rude. Second, it’s an interesting theory, but no.

Shepard: I don’t not believe in love, just not forever.

Denver: Right, but your feelings are totally changing.

Shepard: Oh, are they now? Why is that?

Denver: Because you’re totally falling in love with me and wanna spend the rest of your whole life with me. It’s why you bug me every day.

Shepard: Don’t make me laugh, Den.

Denver: Admit it—you’ve been thinking about our double wedding.

Shepard: You should see the scrapbook I have for it.

Shepard: Our colors are outfield green and baseball stitches red.

Denver: You know, I can see that being exactly what you want.

Shepard: Let’s not forget our venue: the comic shop, right near the Captain America comics because he IS the hottest Avenger.

Denver: Is this your way of saying you’ll be my Bucky? Because we ALL know Cap and Bucky are secretly lovers.

Shepard: AHA! You ARE a nerd!

Shepard: And no, because I call dibs on Captain America. You can be MY Bucky.

Denver: Deal, but only if you say it’s forever.

Shepard: “It’s forever.”

Denver: Shep…

Shepard: Fine, Den. Forever. You’ll always be my Bucky.

Shepard: I like Sinatra.

Shepard: Actually, I hardly listen to any modern music.

Shepard: Now you owe me another secret.

Denver: I honestly think that might have been the most shocking thing you could possibly say to me.

Denver: I, too, like Sinatra and don’t listen to modern music, though not by choice. There’s your secret.

Shepard: That doesn’t count!

Denver: Are you kidding me? The only person who knows we’re not allowed to listen to modern music is Allie. That most certainly counts as a secret.

Shepard: Fine. I think it’s a cop-out, but I’ll allow it.

Shepard: I’m curious though…what kind of music did you think I listen to?

Denver: I don’t know…Justin Bieber? Yeah, you totally seem like you have Bieber fever.

Shepard: I’m starting to rethink our wedding album…

Denver: You said forever, Cap.

Shepard: Forever, Bucky. Forever.

Seven

Shepard

“I’m here to see Denny.”

The receptionist sitting behind the counter drops the pen he’s holding, and the phone glued to his ear almost slips from his grasp as his jaw hits the floor.

“I am going to need to call you back, Henry. There’s a…well, someone important is here and I’m sure his time is worth a lot more than yours.” He slams the phone down on the receiver and beams up at me. “How may I help you, dear?”

“Good morning…” I glance down at the nameplate on his desk. “Eric. I’m here to see Denny.”

“Denny?” He purses his lips. “Ah, yes. Miss Andrews?” He leans forward, moving the pen between his fingers with curious, excited eyes. “Are you on her appointment book for the day?”

I quirk a brow. “I’m not, but I have a feeling I can talk you into making an exception for me.”

He laughs, tossing the pen onto the calendar covering his desk and pushing his chair back to stand. “You’d be right. I’ll take you to her.” He struts around the desk. “Follow me.”

Eric leads me down a hallway filled with fingers clacking against keyboards, shouts for more coffee, and a flurry of people bustling from desk to desk.

Tucked away in a corner in the back of the building, Denny’s head is bent over her laptop, her eyes glued to the screen.

It reminds me of college, the two of us working on the school paper together.

I’d have to talk my dick down every day watching her work her magic in that computer lab. It didn’t matter that she ignored me every chance she got; that never stopped me from watching her every moment I could, because watching Denver was pure gold.

She loved working on the paper, loved the chance to get creative, to voice her opinion while still giving the facts. She was a master at it, a far better writer than I ever was.

***

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