Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

The Bracelet

The Bracelet

by Mara

Summary: Hoshi’s sad, and Annie’s in town to cheer her up.

NOTES: You really need to read my fic “Dear Annie” for this to make sense. This
is a response to a Challenge in a Can from the Linguistics Database. I’ll reveal
my challenge at the end. To see the original Challenge in a Can, visit
http://www.dymphna.net/challenge/.
DEDICATION: For JustVisiting, who asked nicely for stories about Hoshi and
Annie’s early days. And for Jessica, who helped me through plenty of things that
seemed catastrophic at the time.

* * * * *

Hoshi sat slumped on her couch, fingers absently smoothing across the skin of
her right wrist. In the distance, she could hear the sound of the rainstorm that
had started mere moments after Annie bounded in the door and hugged her
fiercely. The rain sounds made an odd counterpoint to the strains of
Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet,” playing in the background.

Annie plopped down next to Hoshi and shook her frizzy brown hair out of her face
impatiently. “C’mon, babe, tell me about it. It can’t be all that bad. I mean,
unless he…” She stopped. “He didn’t lay a hand on you, did he?”

At that, Hoshi looked up from contemplation of her wrist, into Annie’s familiar
and concerned face. “No, no, of course not, nothing like that.”

Annie relaxed against the arm of the couch. “That’s good. But you know when I
get my hands on Eric, I can guarantee he’s gonna be hurting,” she said.

“You’re the seventh person on four continents to say that.”

Annie sat upright and pounded her hand on the worn green chenille of the couch.
“You let someone else threaten him before I could? I’m hurt, I’m offended. How
could you do this to your best friend? I demand my rights to beat him up before
anyone else gets to hurt him.”

Hoshi managed a weak grin. “Of course.”

“That’s better. Hmmph.” Annie looked her over with those sharp brown eyes that
saw more than her flighty manner showed. She leaned forward and took Hoshi’s
hand, drawing it away from the wrist she’d gone back to stroking. “So?” She
looked pointedly at the wrist in question.

“I threw the bracelet at him,” Hoshi said, blushing. “Hit him in the middle of
the chest, actually.”

Annie threw her head back in raucous laughter. “Whoo hoo! I’m obviously a bad
influence on you!”

Hoshi didn’t answer immediately, just leaned her head against the back of the
couch, trying to draw comfort from the familiar. But everything somehow reminded
her of Eric, from the small copper sculpture of a swallow in flight that he’d
helped her pick out, to the photo hanging on the far wall of the two of them on
vacation in the Shenandoah Valley.

Annie waited patiently for her to gather her thoughts.

“If he’d wanted to break up with me, that would have been one thing,” Hoshi
said, turning to stare blindly out the rain-spattered window. “But to walk into
his apartment and find him kissing Nomali.” She bit her lip, the image rising in
her mind again. “I knew he’d been spending time with her, but I’m not the
jealous sort. There’s no reason he can’t have female friends. But…” She
trailed off.

“I’m sorry, Hoshi,” Annie said. “If I’d thought he’d do something like this, I
promise I’d have said something.”

Hoshi sighed, looking through the rain and fog at the hazy image of nearby
buildings. “She’s so beautiful.”

“Huh?” Annie sounded befuddled. “Um, American Non-sequitur Society, we don’t
make much sense, but we do like pizza. What are we talking about now?”

Hoshi looked at her. “Nomali. She’s…I mean, she’s…” She gestured futilely in
the air, managing to suggest statuesque curves.

“And?”

“And she makes me feel inadequate,” Hoshi snapped at her. “Okay, I admit it.
She’s gorgeous.”

“You, of course, are chopped liver,” Annie said, glaring at her. “Geez, when was
the last time you looked in a mirror and why the heck am I even debating looks
with you when that’s not the point? The point is, Eric’s a jerk for cheating on
you, and you need to eat more chocolate and get over him. Remember, chocolate
solves almost everything.”

Hoshi smiled a little at their old mantra. “But why’d he do it?” she asked,
hating the plaintive tone in her voice.

“I don’t know. I’m sure as heck not gonna make excuses for the idiot. But I can
tell you he *is* an idiot, to treat you like this. The problem is that he’s
male. Let’s see, you’re 19, which makes him 23,” Annie was counting on her
fingers now. “What’s that in male years? 16? 15? That’s your problem, you were
dating a younger man.” She shook her head in consternation. “From now on, only
date older men.”

“Gee, why didn’t I think of that?” Hoshi found her lips twitching.

“That’s what I’m here for.” Annie patted her on the head.

“Thank you, by the way. I can’t believe you made it here so fast.”

“I told you,” Annie said, stretching her arms and legs out and making her joints
pop, “I’ll always be here when you need me.”

“I appreciate that.”

“Eh, you’d do the same for me. Heck, you have.”

They were silent for a few long moments, remembering past crises.

“You know, I wore that bracelet every day for a year,” Hoshi said, looking at
her wrist again.

“I know.”

“I’d twist it around and around, watching the little diamond chips flash and try
and imagine when I’d get a ring to go along with it. Silly me.”

“Not silly.” Annie grabbed her wrist again. “Young, maybe. Hopeful, definitely.
But not silly. He’s the one who’s silly. Now, if you’d just follow my lead and
chase after women instead…” She grinned at Hoshi, then tried to bat her
eyelashes. “Darling, you know I’ve loved you forever.”

Hoshi laughed. “We’d never suit each other.”

“You’re absolutely sure? Oh, I’m crushed.” She placed the back of her hand
against her forehead and struck a dramatic pose, which was completely ruined by
the wide grin.

Blinking back sudden tears, Hoshi bowed her head. Annie put her arm around her
younger friend, and Hoshi leaned gratefully against a shoulder. “It hurts,” was
all she said.

“I know it does, hon. I know it does,” Annie said. “But I guarantee you’ll get
over him. And someday you’ll find a man who treats you the way you deserve.
‘Cause you know I’ll personally beat up anyone who treats you badly.”

“I know.”

“Can we eat that chocolate now?”

“Absolutely.”

* * * * *

My challenge was linguist/sad/wrist.

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