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No Looking Back

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Adena wasn’t surprised when she heard the news. Only at the fact she didn’t hear them from Kat. They expected it. It was why Kat did it on her own, to protect Adena. They knew being fired, at minimum, was the most likely consequence of exposing RJ’s tax returns, and with them his homophobia and hypocrisy. 

No, Adena wasn’t surprised. Even if she thought it was unfair and it angered her that even if they had gotten a slice of justice, the world still protected those on top by creating consequences for those who dared to expose them. Kat was strong enough to risk it all, but Adena knew not everybody could afford to. And she wondered, not for the first time, if she had made the right decision by taking the job at Scarlet. 

She loved it. It finally gave her a reason to stay still, to build a home. Even if the person she had dreamed to build that home with was no longer part of it. She liked the access Scarlet gave her to people and a platform she couldn’t have on her own. But at the same time, she wondered what other obstacles would the corporate side of it put in their way. Was it worth it to be subjected to the interest of a board full of white men instead of free to speak her truth as an artist? It was a trade-off she was willing to make, for now. 

A text from Kat shook Adena out of her thoughts. Kat was downstairs, at Safford’s Lobby and asked to meet Adena there. Adena rushed to the elevator. 

When Adena saw Kat sitting on the same table they had shared the day she started working at Scarlet, she couldn’t help but smile. It was a soft smile, full of equal parts sadness and longing. It seemed like a lifetime ago, but it also made Adena wonder why every time their paths came together, something happened to push them apart. 

Adena never imagined Kat leaving Scarlet. And here they were. With the former Social Media Director, ready to walk out the door, away from something that had meant so much to her, right as Adena started to build her own story there. It would have made Adena laugh at the irony, if she didn’t felt like Kat leaving Scarlet meant also Kat leaving her, again. As much as they tried to stay friends, their paths keep running opposite each other. 

She sat opposite Kat, trying to push her own sadness aside to focus on Kat. 

“I’m so sorry, Kat”

“Hey. Don’t be. It was my choice and I don’t regret it.”

Kat seemed to mean her words. But still, Adena couldn’t shake the feeling it should have been her instead of Kat who risked her job at Scarlet. 

“But you love Scarlet.”

Kat reached across the table to rest her hand on top of Adena’s. Looked directly into her eyes before speaking with purpose. As if she knew what Adena was feeling and wanted to disperse every ounce of doubt left. 

“I do. And I will miss it. But I think I’m ready for bigger things. I’ve felt like making a change a couple times before. There’s no better reason to actually go ahead and do it than this.”

Adena tried to embrace Kat’s words, but there was still some hesitance left that was obvious enough on her face to prompt Kat to add.

“It was the right thing to do. But I also did it for you.”

Adena smiled softly, a flutter of hope in her chest that she rushed to put down. She had been burned too many times already by Kat, she didn’t dare to hope, even if it was what she wanted more than anything. Instead, she moved the conversation to a safer topic. 

“I enjoyed working together.”

“So did I. But we can still hang. We are friends”

Another pang. This time of pain. Friends. The word that reminded Adena of what they had lost. And to be honest, she wasn’t even sure it was accurate. Outside of Scarlet, they didn’t act like friends. Still keep their distance. She tried to hide her disappointment, but she didn’t do a good enough job.

“Yeah, friends.”

Kat looked back at Adena with a questioning face. Adena debated for a minute if she should take the chance, or let it go like usual. 

“You know I want to be more than friends with you, Kat.”

“I know.”

The way Kat put her hand back and lowered her gaze was answer enough for Adea. Confirmation of what she already knew. But it didn’t hurt any less. 

“It’s okay. I know you don’t want me like that anymore. I just needed to say it.”

“I love you Adena. It’s just…”

“Hey. It’s okay. Let’s leave it at that. Let’s focus on this big change coming your way. I’m here for you Kat. That’s all you need to focus on right now.”

“Thank you.”

And just like that, they went back to their friendship dance.