Work Header

Eyes Wide Open

Work Text:

       Grace sinks into the monotonous grey seating that somehow reappears in every airport she has ever been in. Her flight from Boston to Hawaii is delayed another two hours, and Grace flips her phone in her hand, putting off having to update her mother on the situation. She closes her eyes and can imagine her mother’s worried face, but Grace sends her a quick text anyway. Then, Grace immediately flips her phone upside down on her leg, so she won’t stare at the screen, waiting for those three little dots to appear. When her mother had told her that she was getting married in Hawaii, Grace had been so pleased; finally, her mother had found someone, other than Grace, to share her life with. But apparently, flying to Hawaii the same day as the ceremony was not going to go as smoothly as she had hoped.

         Grace checks her phone for something to do, and when she sees that her mother hasn’t texted or called back, she plugs in her headphones and presses play on the Fever Dream song “Be My Baby.” As the melody that she knows so well starts, Grace feels herself relax. Boston is six hours ahead of Hawaii; if the flight is not delayed again and she can make her change into formal wear quick, things should still work out. Grace forces herself to breathe in and out slowly. Hell, even her father, in all his chaotic eccentricity, had made it. If the universe was kind, she would too. She feels her phone buzz, and Grace reads the text as quickly as she can.

Well there’s nothing that can be done about it now. This is a casual wedding so if we have to push the ceremony back by an hour because the maid of honor isn’t there, then that’s what we’ll do.

       Grace texts back a quick sorry and a heart emoji. How Greg, her mother’s soon to be husband, managed to get her mother to agree to a ‘relaxed,’ ‘semi-structured’ wedding, Grace will never know, but she thanks her lucky stars he did because her mother seems, at least over text, relaxed. Grace pushes her anxiety about the delay to the back of her mind, and she gets up to wiggle her legs and find a bathroom. She’s thinking about how lucky they are that the resort is taking care of most of the wedding preparation and set-up, when someone almost knocks her flying.

       Grace responds automatically.

       “Sorry I… uh.” Then she looks at who has bumped into her. There in front of her, for the first time in almost six years, is Jes Holloway. He looks, well, about the same, maybe a bit older. He looks frazzled, however, running a hand through his hair, his eyes darting around the crowd.

       “Wow, uh…” he lifts up on his tippy toes to peer over her head, “Grace, I wasn’t expecting to see you here… could we maybe…”

       But Grace is already grabbing his hand and pulling him through the crowd towards a hallway with an ‘employees only’ door. Out of the crowd, Jes’ eyes focus on her, and he smiles, his eyes crinkling at the corners.

       “It’s really good to see you. You look…” Jes steals a quick glance at her body and Grace can see his breath catch ever so slightly, “…really great.” Even after six years which is a whole lot of time and space between their past relationship and the present, Grace blushes at the compliment. But the mood quickly shifts, as Jes returns to fidgeting. He moves his weight from one foot to the other in a way that makes Grace feel uneasy.

       “Are you okay? Is someone following you?” She smiles trying to alleviate the tension. “Do you need me, Grace Thomas, bodyguard extraordinaire, to fight someone? I’ve been working on my roundhouse kick.”

       Grace feels a little bit of pride when Jes laughs.

       “I’m sure your roundhouse kicks are fantastic. Listen, this is going to sound dumb, but I said something stupid to a press person, and now they’re hounding me for the story, and I just have to disappear for a few days while this all blows over, but I don’t know where to go and…”

       Grace interrupts him.

       “You could come with me to Hawaii.” As soon as she says it, she feels dumb. Her and Jes literally haven’t spoken substantially since their ‘we need to grow’ chat six years ago. Why would she think it was a good idea for him to come to her mother’s wedding? Grace is a bit afraid to see his reaction in case it is one of rejection, but he replies,

       “Grace, are you sure? I wouldn’t want to put you out or ruin your vacation or anything.”

       “Technically, it isn’t a vacation. It’s for my mother’s wedding. You could be a plus one if you wanted.” When the silence lasts a little too long, she backtracks. “Or you could come with me to Hawaii and like stay in a hotel for a few days away from everyone and everything.”

       Jes seems to ignore the latter half of her sentence.

       “Would your mother be okay with me being there? Especially on such short notice, I don’t want to intrude.”

       “It’s a semi-structured wedding with no reception and the meal is the resort’s buffet…” Grace says emphasizing the word semi-structured with air quotes, “…so that’s no problem.” Grace pauses for a second. “I could ask her.”

       When Grace raises her eyes to meet Jes’, they look hopeful, so she takes out her phone and texts her mom.

So, I know I’m already causing a lot of chaos for this wedding but how would you feel if Jes came along?

       The reply is almost instant.

I don’t know what is going on but as long as he chews with his mouth closed, I guess that would be fine.

Besides, I've always wanted to meet the boy who made my daughter act so irresponsibly for a whole summer.

       Grace smiles. Her mother’s humour is ridiculously dry, but Grace has finally started to get it over the last couple of years. They’re both still trying, and she feels a fondness wash over her that they can communicate in this way.

       Grace nudges Jes, holding up the phone for him to see.

       “You’re in.”




       Because the flight has been delayed and a few people have cancelled last minute, Jes manages to get a ticket in the same row as her. It feels surreal when he saunters over to her, smiling and holding up the ticket while flicking it with his finger. He’s wearing her massive pink sunglasses to hide his face. At this moment, Grace is relieved that Fever Dream isn’t together, and that Jes has taken a more lowkey approach to fame with his solo career. From the snippets she’s seen on her Tumblr dash over the six years, he releases music sporadically and hardly ever does performances or interviews. Jes had explained to her on the walk over to the ticket line that he hadn’t needed a bodyguard in a while because he was getting recognized less. Grace had still insisted on the glasses before separating from him to use the bathroom like she had intended to before Jes ran into her.

       Jes sits down beside her and it goes silent between them. The silence is long and drawn out, neither of them knowing where to look. They both start speaking at the same time, and she motions Jes to go first.

       “Is this going to be weird?”

       “Why because I haven’t seen you since the summer before college?”

       Jes smacks his hand to his forehead. The action is so abrupt that Grace lets out a startled laugh.

       “I haven’t even asked about how you’ve been or what you’ve been up to. God that’s shit. So, uh… how was college? What did you study?” His question is stilted, but Grace answers anyway.

       “Journalism...” Jes looks shocked, and then his face contorts into a half pout, half frown. “…and physical sciences if you would let me finish,” Grace says. “Don’t worry, I mostly did investigative political journalism in my upper years. I’m not going to do an exposé on you or anything. Besides I work as a sports physio assistant right now anyway. That’s actually why I have to fly out the same day as the wedding ceremony. I couldn’t get time off because jocks always need their delts massaged.”

       Jes’ laugh bursts out of him, and then they're both laughing. By the time they stop, gasping for air, Grace thinks that their laughter has probably evolved into laughter at the absurdity of this situation. But it seems to break the tension between them, and they fall back into the easy rhythm of conversation that had made them friends in the first place. Jes is just finishing a story about an absurdly funny interaction he had with a server, when their gate is called for boarding. Grace sends a quick text to her mother, and they’re on their way.




       Jes switches seats with the person beside Grace, so they can sit beside each other and hang out. In the end, it doesn’t matter because Jes falls asleep almost immediately on take-off. His head droops to the side slightly, coming to rest on Grace’s shoulder. A lock of his hair caresses her cheek, and she smoothes it down with her finger, allowing her hand to rest in his hair for just a minute before pulling away. Maybe it should feel weird to have someone – who is almost a stranger – cuddled up on her shoulder. But it doesn’t, so Grace relaxes her body, puts on a stupid rom com she’s seen a million times with Lianne and Cara, and lets herself drift off.

       When Grace wakes up, the movie is just ending. She rubs her eyes and untangles herself from her headphones. Jes is also awake, but Grace guesses he hasn’t been for long, if the red sleepiness of his eyes or the hair that’s sticking up off the side of his head is anything to go by. The credits start to roll on the screen, and she turns to Jes and asks,

       “If you were a movie star what would your name be?”

       “Jes Holloway isn’t a movie star enough name for you?” He’s grinning and his eyes twinkle. Grace is surprised at how much it feels like seeing an old friend. The teasing banter they’ve fallen into and the casual appearance makes it feel like they’ve been around each other for years.

       “Mine would be Gracie Teasdale.”

       “That sounds like a porn star name,” Jes says. Grace puts on an exaggerated offended face and playfully slaps his arm with her hoodie sleeve.

       “Hey! I came up with that when I was a kid!”


       Grace grins, “No.”

       “I thought your alter ego was Gigi.”

       Grace makes sure to look into his eyes when she says, “Not anymore.”

       An awkwardness envelopes them, and they remain silent until they land.




       The resort is only a ten-minute drive from the airport, and when Grace enters into the high-ceilinged, tropically-themed foyer, her mother briskly rushes toward her, pulling her into a hug. Jes holds out his hand when her and her mother break, introducing himself like a gentleman.

       Grace can’t help up let all the anxiety spill out of her.

       “I’m so sorry I’m late. What needs to be done still? Has everyone gotten settled? Where’s Greg? What ca…”

       Her mother interrupts her.

       “Calm down, Grace. Everything’s ready to go. This wedding is going to be beautiful in the experience but not perfect.”

       Grace sighs. It’s the mantra they adopted from the few counselling sessions they did together a few years back to help them communicate better. The phrase feels warm and comforting because it’s something her and her mother share. A mantra to suggest that her mother doesn’t have to exert such a tight control over her life, and a reminder for Grace to be less hard on herself when she makes a mistake. Grace can feel herself tear up, and she pulls her mother into another hug.

       It’s a while before her mother breaks the embrace, tsking in a light tone.

       “Alright, Alright. Go say hello to everyone and then meet me and Greg for a quick lunch before the ceremony.” She pauses and then says, “Jes can come too if he wants.” She turns, leading them into the sunlight. Grace gasps. The beach is gorgeous with crystal blue water and long stretches of white sand. Grace wants to lay down and bask in the sun and run into the water all at once. She almost forgets Jes is beside her until Cara and Lianne start calling her over to where they are standing underneath an umbrella.

       The wedding dress code was casual, but both Lianne and Cara look fantastic. Lianne is wearing an orange maxi dress which complements her skin and dark hair, and her arm is around Cara’s waist who's dressed in a chic black jumpsuit and sporting a high ponytail that she somehow makes look stylish. Grace had been worried when the two of them had gotten together three years ago, but that worry had been for nothing. In fact, Lianne and Cara getting together had somehow brought the three of them closer. The teasing and inside jokes had increased, and Grace was happy that she was able experience every part of her friend’s lives just like they had experienced and accepted all of her.

       Lianne pulls them into a group hug. When they pull away, Cara, ever the peacemaker, smiles at Jes.

       “What a surprise! We weren’t expecting you at all.” Jes gives her a light smile, and Grace jumps in.

       “It’s sort of a long story.”

       “I’m sure we’ll weasel it out of you over the course of the day.” Cara’s tone is light and teasing, but Grace and see her shift her feet uncomfortably. Lianne’s giving her a pointed look out of Jes’ eyesight.

       “Hey Grace, why don’t we get some drinks from the bar.” Before Grace has the time to answer, Lianne is leading her away from Jes and Cara. Once they order, Lianne catches her eye and says,

       “What is going on?” Grace doesn’t even think to try to lie and gives her the Cliff’s notes version of her time at the airport.

       “You haven’t seen him in six years and you just invited him to your mother’s wedding in Hawaii?”

       “I know it sounds crazy,” Grace says, and Lianne rolls her eyes. “But I wanted to help him. I made that decision myself. I’m not going to get swept up into his life and get pulled along. Besides, it’s been six years. We’re different people now and this day isn’t about me or him anyway it’s about my mother.”

       Lianne replies with a look that says, ‘I’m holding you to that,’ but then she smiles at Grace. When they are walking back, Lianne nudges her and says in a whisper,

       “I’m not saying you shouldn’t like, get it, though.” Grace can’t help but laugh, mutter a fuck off, and push her playfully back.




       It’s only been two hours since Grace landed in Hawaii, but she’s talked to so many people that she already feels exhausted. Her mother’s best friend Maura had pulled her away from Jes, Lianne, and Cara, and she’d made her rounds, trading small talk with relatives twice removed and cousins she hadn’t seen in years. She manages to break away from a tedious conversation about golf, taking a step away from the people mingling together. She looks for Jes only a little sorry she’d abandoned him an hour ago and finds him lounging on a recliner on his own.

       Grace sinks down beside him and sighs, “Why is golf like the worst topic of conversation imaginable.” He chuckles, his straight white teeth flashing for a moment before he ducks his head and his hand sweeps through his hair.

       “It’s that bad out there huh?”

       “Not really.” Grace smiles. “How are you doing?”

       “Better,” Jes replies. He turns his head away and continues, “It’s nice being here with you. Seeing you talk to people and laugh. I don’t know, it just feels good.”

       Grace’s heart flutters. It’s not that she hasn’t dated since Jes. It’s just that she didn’t make that her priority in the aftermath of that transformative summer. She went on a few dates with guys at Kenyon and had dated someone for a few months a couple of years ago before they had broken up with her, but she hadn’t put much effort in, mostly letting everything fizzle out. Instead, she had poured her heart and soul into her friendships, online and off, and into her relationship with her mother, working hard to create a network of people who she loved and loved her fiercely.

       But this confession from Jes sets something spinning inside her brain. How does she want to proceed with this relationship with Jes? She feels like she simultaneously knows and doesn’t know him. How has he changed in these past six years? Is he still keeping secrets tucked inside himself? He seems more open, but then again, maybe not. He still hasn’t told her what he said to the reporter that made him follow her to Hawaii. The thoughts keep swirling around her head, but she replies with her heart,

       “I missed you.”




       Lunch with her mother, Greg, and Jes is less awkward than she thought it would be. She’s happy Greg is there because conversation flows naturally from him. It’s what had endeared him to Grace in the first place.

       “… of course, that’s the moment when I found out the defendant was his grandmother!” Greg claps for effect to end his story, and Jes laughs lightly. Grace gives Jes credit for actually seeming engaged. Grace and her mother have now heard every one of Greg’s stories at least three times, and every time they get longer and more meandering.

       Grace’s mother replies with a curt, dry comment about how Greg should have gotten all the details of the case before taking it, and Greg’s eyes sparkle as he replies,

       “That is something you would say isn’t it.”

       Her mother rolls her eyes, but she ends up smiling anyway. Grace loves watching them banter. Somehow her mother found someone who is just as dedicated to their job as she is but whose personality counters her own’s perfectly. Greg works hard, but he has a chill, laid back vibe which offsets some of the more erratic and tense aspects of her mother’s personality. Watching them across the table, with Jes laughing politely at her side, Grace is struck by an overwhelming feeling of fondness for everyone at the table. Something about seeing two people so in love, who fit together so perfectly, makes the whole world feel balanced and full. She catches Jes’ eye and smiles at him. He smiles back holding her stare for a couple of seconds before re-engaging in his conversation with Greg. Grace allows herself a few more moments to watch Jes interact. His brown skin is glowing under the lights of the restaurant, and she likes the way his eyes crinkle at the corners when he finds something especially funny. She’s about to turn away when she feels someone kick her under the table.

       “You’re staring,” her mother mouths. Grace scowls but her mother holds her stare, smiling at her until Grace has to relent and smile back. Grace turns to the rest of the table and says,

       “How about a toast? To the bride and groom!”

       Greg replies with a “to new family!” and her mother chimes in with a “and a wonderful future.” There’s a pause before Jes says “to love” and they all clink glasses.




       The wedding is beautiful. Grace is the ring bearer, flower girl, and maid-of-honour all wrapped up into one. And Grace can’t help but tear up for the second time that day when her mother walks down the aisle all by herself in a beautiful white maxi dress Grace had helped her pick out. Greg and her mother exchange vows, the ocean lapping at their feet as they agree to love and protect each other for the rest of their lives.




       Before her mother and Greg had disappeared to who knows where to do things Grace does not want to think about, her mother had announced that instead of a reception, the guests could use the resort’s amenities for the afternoon as they wished.

        She had announced, “This isn’t a twenty-one-year old’s wedding. I’ve done this before, and I hate dancing.”

        So, there’s now people mingling and talking on the beach as groups break off slowly to enjoy the spa or the buffet. After a while, Cara and Lianne leave her to do a couple’s spa treatment, promising to meet up later in the evening. Somehow Grace has managed to lose Jes again, but when she turns around to search for him, it’s like they're connected. His eyes find her almost immediately. He’s talking to her uncle who she knows is definitely debating politics with anyone he can rope into a conversation. Jes mouths the words “help me,” and Grace grins, pushing through the crowd to steal Jes away from her uncle.

       As Grace leads Jes away from the other wedding guests, she tries to convince him to do the beginner’s scuba diving excursion together for the afternoon.

       “C’mon, it will be fun. The weather’s so nice,” she says, poking him in the shoulder until he starts laughing and swats at her hand.

       “Fine. If you want to, I guess it could be okay,” Jes says, and Grace cheers. Grace has never been scuba diving before, despite living so close to the ocean for most of her childhood, and Jes tells her he has only been once. Grace remembers that Fever Dream photoshoot. All the boys underwater, a mixture of serious looking photos that somehow always managed to show off their abs and silly candid shots of the boys pointing at fish and making silly faces or roughhousing in the water. She sort of wants to ask him about it, but because of the silence that had enveloped them when he had referred to Gigi, she thinks better of it.

       They’re given a short tutorial on the way the mask and the tank work and provided a wetsuits in their approximate sizes. The instructor gestures her and Jes towards a door.

       “There’s room to change in there.”

        The word ‘room’ was an overstatement. Grace was expecting changing rooms behind the wooden door, but instead, the room she and Jes are squished into is about as big as a broom closet. Both of them stand in silence for a second waiting for the other to react. Grace decides to suck it up and peels her dress off. She is incredibly grateful she had the foresight to wear a bikini underneath.

       “Is that a tattoo?”

        Grace smiles, remembering the time Jes had lifted up his shirt at Rick’s party to show her his tattoos. She holds the sacred heart up for him to see better, and he touches her arm, turning it slightly. He raises an eyebrow up in a question.

       “Hey, no matter what went down, you and the band were still a huge part of my teenage years and happiness. I wanted to commemorate it,” Grace explains. “I’ve got another one too.”

       She turns so he can see the floral design she has tattooed on the side of her calf.

       “My friend Katy designed it for me for my birthday a couple of years ago.”

       “It’s really beautiful.” Jes’ hand hovers over her skin. Their eyes lock for a moment. The trance is broken by banging on the door.

       “Are you guys almost ready? We’re getting hooked up to the tanks soon.”

       Grace replies in the affirmative and is secretly glad she lived in California for so long because she slips on her wetsuit like it’s a second skin. When she finishes zipping herself up, she turns to Jes who is having way more difficulty. She reaches towards him and he relents, letting her try to pull the wetsuit up his legs. It’s a struggle.

       “What is wrong with you? This suit just repels your body,” Grace mutters after a good thirty seconds of pulling but not getting anywhere. “Maybe you need to moisturize more, damn.”

       “Hey! I take offense to that statement. My skin is very soft.”

       “Apparently not,” Grace teases back. Somehow there’s no tension between them as Grace fumbles around making progress with the suit. Eventually Grace ends up contorted around Jes like a pretzel, pulling the suit up at the back, and they are both laughing so hard that it almost undoes all her hard work. By the time they stumble out of the room, wiping tears from their eyes, all the other participants are in the water already.

       The instructor hooks them up, gives them a slightly disparaging look, and lets them plop into the water. There are no words for how beautiful the ocean looks underwater. Submerged in the clear water, Grace tries to take it in all at once. The abundance of coral in bright colors, the schools of fish swimming around them, and the peacefulness of the waves slowly pushing against their bodies makes her feel overwhelmed. She focuses on her senses one at a time, focusing on the coolness of the saltwater on her body and the muffled sloshing sounds of the water all around her.

       Jes must see her nervousness because he reaches out and takes her hand. There is no dramatic sparks when their palms press together, but it feels right to have him guide her through the ocean. The kick together, hands clasped, exploring the underwater world. She points at a fish with black spikey fins that keeps swimming in small circles.

       “That's you,” she mouths and Jes laughs. He points to an ugly brown fish hiding in the reeds and then at her.

       “That’s you,” he says. It becomes a game, finding the ugliest, most absurd fish and saying it’s the other person. The game devolves into laughing fits as they pull each other around in circles.




       The sun has already started to set when Jes and Grace step off the boat and onto the dock. Lianne and Cara wave to them from the beach and begin to laugh when they take a moment to exaggeratedly steady themselves on land like they are seasick before heading over to them.

       The four of them go for drinks after scarfing down a few plates from the buffet. Two mimosas later and Grace feels light and happy. She had never liked the feeling of being drunk, and after her roommate Allison had taken her to a bunch of parties in freshman year where they both had had to throw up in the shared bathroom, Grace had found a happy, tipsy medium. Lianne is telling the story of how her and Cara got together which involves a clown from Michigan state and a whole lot of play dough. By the end of the story, everyone is giggling, and Jes is laughing so hard he nearly falls off his chair. Lianne calls for another round and throws her arm around Cara’s shoulders who slumps against her. All four of them settle into the booth, exchanging stories and teasing each other.

        An hour later, Cara asks Jes about his career, and his tone goes more serious. He explains how it had taken him a couple of years to get comfortable being on his own, but how he had eventually started to take back some control of his personal image and make different decisions about how he was going to live within the framework of fame.

        “It wasn’t sustainable,” he says, “I needed to be able to be myself all the time. It’s like I grew up in a pressure cooker with no room to grow or change or explore. It’s been nice to do those things, to just… be.”

        Grace reaches over and squeezes his hand under the table.




        It’s nearly two a.m. when Grace stumbles into her hotel room, slapping her hand on the wall until she finds the light switch.

        “I’m so tired,” she moans, dragging out the end of the word and flops back onto the bed. Jes follows her inside. Because Jes had come on such short notice, he had been forced to share with her, but Grace didn’t mind. Besides at this moment, all she wanted to do was sleep.

        “We should go to the roof.” Jes’ voice breaks her out of her calm, and he tugs on her arm.

        “Why?” is all Grace can manage to say, but she allows herself to be tugged into a sitting position.

        “C’mon, it’s a clear night. The stars will be really beautiful.” Grace rolls her eyes but stands up and downs some water. Jes looks at her expectantly. She frowns at him.

        “Well let’s go before I change my mind.” Jes whoops and runs towards the door. Grace follows, snatching a chocolate bar from the basket in the hotel room, not caring that it will probably cost her like fourteen dollars later.

        They race each other up the stairs, Jes taking them two at a time and burst out onto the flat roof of the hotel. They lay down beside each other, about a foot apart, and Grace has to admit that the stars are beautiful. It’s kind of the perfect way to end such a lovely day. She rearranges herself a bit, so she can rub her arms. The temperature had dropped since the sun-filled afternoon when the dress she is currently wearing had been appropriate. A couple of seconds later, she feels something drop on top of her, and she smiles as she sits up to put on Jes’ hoodie. The black fabric is soft, and she burrows into it, letting the sleeves fall over her hands. She still feels tired but in a warm, cozy way rather than an irritating one. This time the silence between her and Jes is companionable, and it’s a few minutes before Jes breaks it.

        “Land and Solly are mad at me.”

        Grace takes a few seconds to reply.

        “Does it have anything to do with the reporter who was following you around?”

        He sighs, and she turns to look at him. He’s staring up at the sky, his long eyelashes more prominent in profile. She sees the sharp line of his jaw tick as he thinks of what to say. Grace pulls the chocolate bar out of her pocket and breaks off half, handing it to Jes. He gives her a half smile when he accepts it.

        “I let it slip that they might be together.”

        Grace lets out a startled laugh. Oh how the tables had turned since their last conversation.

         “Are they?” she asks.

        “Wouldn’t you like to know,” Jes quickly quips. There’s nothing spiteful in the way he says the words, but he looks at her embarrassed after he does. Grace just waves him off and giggles.

        “Life is so weird,” she says, shaking her head slightly.

        She had thought something was up when someone she followed on Tumblr had pointed out that Solly had deleted all pictures and mentions of Raj off his social media. Then, blurry pictures had surfaced of him and Land at the airport together after they hadn’t been seen together in a few years. She hadn’t thought they were together though. After that summer, she had stopped shipping the boys from Fever Dream entirely, but she hadn’t stopped being in fandom or shipping in general. It had just been recontextualized in her mind. She still liked reading fanfic and finding new fanart and looking at edited gifsets. It connected her to people, and it was a fun outlet to pour her energy into, but she wasn’t invested in the reality of her ships like she used to be. And she definitely didn’t allow herself to pretend she knew anything about the people behind the screen.

        “Raj broke Solly’s heart, and Land was there to comfort him. It took them literally forever to get together after that, but they did eventually,” Jes says, rubbing his hands down his face. “This interviewer asked me about the boys, and I told her how great of a dad Kendrick is, and I said something about Solly’s and Land’s careers, but I guess I accidentally said ‘their home’ when referring to them, and now she won’t stop harassing any of us for, as she puts it, the truth. I don’t know what to do, they hate me so much right now and I…”

        Jes is spiraling so Grace cuts him off.

        “Hey, they don’t hate you. Some important news story will come up, like some popstar cheating or crashing their Benz, and she’ll forget about what everyone else will classify as a ‘slip of the tongue.’ As for Land and Solly, you just need to talk to them, say you’re sorry, mean it, and work to fix it.”

        Jes takes a deep breath and says, “I know. I just don’t want to lose them.”

        They’re silent for a minute just looking up at the stars.

        Jes says, “Even though this situation sucks, I’m glad it led me to see you again.”

         “Me too,” Grace whispers. They both go silent again.

        Finally, Jes turns his head towards her.

        “Do you think we could ever be together?” Grace stares up into the vast night sky. The unknown possibilities of a future between her and Jes stretching out just as far. When she was younger, if something was uncertain, she’d wait until the other person made a decision for her. She smiles for her younger self, so scared and naïve, but she’s in charge of her life now. It’s not perfect but it is beautiful in the chaos. Grace makes her decision and reaches across the space and takes Jes’ hand.

        “I think we can try.”