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We Started Out as Strangers

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Riley is exhausted as she walks through the door to the bar. Boston is a new city and in between her new job at Boston Childrens and getting settled in a new city, she’s determined to form some semblance of a social life on the side while there’s still summer left. But also, she’s stressed and if that social life happens to include a bit of fun on the side, who is she to complain?

It takes a quick nod to the bartender before her tab is open and a whisky sour is placed in front of her on the bar. From there, she observes her surroundings. The place is unusually packed for a Monday night and a few women catch her attention, but for one reason or another she can’t bring herself to approach them. She’s been in Boston for nearly two months now and she’s hardly spent all those nights alone, but waking up to an empty bed or to someone who’s hair was a shade too dark, an inch too long, or a smidge too perky has quickly lost it’s appeal.

She quickly finishes her drink and motions for another, making sure to give the bartender a grateful smile. She takes her time drinking this one while trying to decide if she’s really even in the mood for extracurricular activities tonight. There’s the latest copy of a medical journal and a pint of Ben & Jerrys waiting for her at home that seem to be calling her name louder than the ladies of this bar are.

The bartender slides another drink in front of her and silences her questions with a shrug, “Courtesy of the blonde at the end of the bar.”

Well, at least it’s someone who may be my type she muses before glancing down the bar oh. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

And there, seated at the end of the bar nursing her own drink, a shy smirk on face, sits none other than Abby, whom Riley didn’t even know had left Pittsburgh, much less was in Boston.

By the time they actually lock eyes, the usually confident doctor is sure the gay panic is written all over her face. But she’s nothing if not polite and motions for the smaller women to take the seat next to her. The look on Abby’s face makes her confident she’s made the right decision.

“Of all the people to run into tonight,” she comments as Abby sits her own drink on the counter, “I didn’t expect it to be you.”

“Yeah but are you disappointed?”

Riley rolls her eyes, “Ask me in about thirty minutes. But seriously, what are you doing in Boston?”

Abby smiles, “I finished my PhD last month and moved here about a week ago to take a job at the ICA that starts in a week, and I have a teaching position lined up for the Fall. I’m staying at a hotel around the corner until I have a chance to find an apartment.”

“That’s awesome!” Riley exclaims, “Congrats fellow doctor! This calls for celebratory shots!”

It’s obvious the other woman is embarrassed by the attention but Riley can tell she appreciates the gesture.After ordering a round of shots for them, she turns back to the blonde. “So tell me, what did you do to celebrate? Did John and Harper throw a huge party for you?”

At this, Abby swallows, “Um, no actually. John moved to New York in March and um, Harper and I split up in February.”

“Oh fuck, I’m sorry. I just assumed...I’m sorry.” Riley curses herself for not questioning Harper’s absence from the bar sooner. Abby just shrugs it off, “It’s nothing really. I’m good with how things ended. I think she’s dating someone new, but I knew I wanted out of Pennsylvania. My advisor had an old university friend who was hiring at the ICA and got me an interview. When they extended the offer the same day, I accepted and immediately started packing.”

Riley smiles, “So we’re finally in the same city...you know, I’m off until Thursday. If you don’t have anything to do tomorrow, what do you say we close our tabs and go get dinner? An actual sit-down and catch-up dinner? I know a place we could go not far from here.”

At this, Abby hesitates, “I..are you sure? It’s not that I don’t want to, but are you sure hanging out with your ex’s ex isn’t going to be weird?”

“Not at all,” Riley reassures her, “We’re both adults Abby. Harper was a blip in my life over a decade ago. But, I do understand if I remind you of her and that...Christmas.”

“You were the only good to come of that Christmas,” Abby admits, “Okay yeah. Let’s go get dinner.”