9.41: Dichotomy

Ahhhhh I was so late this week, I’m sorry! Given how late this was, I doubt I will be able to swing Wednesday this coming week either… will probably be closer to next weekend. So I guess for now, to prevent all the confusion, I’m back to no set update day (though I will strive to be as consistent and close to once a week as I can!)

And now without any further ado, here’s our chapter! 🙂

——————–

Asher tapped his fingers nervously against the table in the corner of the large coffee shop. His fingers thudded softly in time to the slow beat of his foot against the floor below him. Any time he heard the door open, Asher whipped his head around so quickly, he feared he’d injure himself. Dramatic as it sounded, it was entirely possible. Turning his neck that fast could, in theory, result in anything from a muscle strain or whiplash to a stroke, if he were unlucky enough.

Yeah, THAT would be a fun trip to the ER… But at least he was far enough away that he wouldn’t end up at work. How awkward would that be?

Asher shook his head, willing the ridiculous thoughts away. He felt so strangely nervous that his thoughts were getting carried away.  Get a grip, he told himself. You need to calm the fuck down. 

“Asher? Hey!” 

He looked up at the sound of a deep, familiar voice from above him and sure enough, there was Ollie. 

Asher rose quickly to his feet, pulling his old friend into an embrace. “Hey.” He said warmly. “It’s so good to see you!” He managed to choke back the small rush of emotion that threatened at the back of his throat. 

“You too… God, it’s been so long.” Ollie’s breath was warm at Asher’s ear as he spoke. He let the embrace linger for just a moment longer before finally pulling away and taking a seat at the table. “Thanks for coming. I know this was really weird and last minute… Sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Asher assured him. “I’m just happy to see you! You look great, by the way.” He let his eyes wander over his friend’s face. 

Ollie had cut his hair since the last time they’d seen each other, and he’d gotten new glasses too. He looked so professional. And so handsome too, just like always.

A deep chuckle filled the air. “You think so? Still not sure about the hair. It hasn’t been this short since… I dunno when.” Ollie shrugged. “Thanks, though. You look great too.”

It was Asher’s turn to laugh. “Ha! Just ‘cause I said it doesn’t mean you have to. You’re the one with the kid, and I’m the one who ended up with the ‘dad bod’.”

For a moment, he felt embarrassed, and was suddenly hyper-aware of the belly flab that pressed against the waistband of his jeans. He’d gained a good amount of weight over the past couple of years. He never had any time to work out anymore, and he often found himself eating junk at home after work.

Ollie shook his head. “Nah, you really do look great.” He assured him. “I’m really digging the beard.”

“Yeah?” Asher couldn’t help but smile. He lifted a hand impulsively to rub it against the hair on his chin and cheeks.” Lil told me I’m starting to look like a caveman.”

“Pfft! She would, wouldn’t she?” 

“She was just kidding… I think.” He shrugged, his smile widening. “Hard to tell with her sometimes.”

Ollie’s smile faded a bit. “How’s she doing, by the way? And your parents? And sisters? God, I feel so out of the loop these days…”

“Yeah, well… You’ve been gone a while.” Asher replied slightly awkwardly.

“I know.”

“Lily’s great though. Everybody is, really.” He shrugged. It felt awkward to try and explain what was going on in his family’s lives. “Nothing that exciting, I guess.”

Ollie’s smile returned. “Nothing exciting, huh? What about your mom’s Oscar?!”

“Oh! Yeah, that was pretty cool… She’s tied with Dad for Grammys now. They’ve had this dumb ‘game’ thing going on for a while.” His lip curled in amusement. “Now I guess it’s a race to see who can get #4 first.” Asher paused, reminiscing for a moment. “Man, remember when we were kids and I threw a fit because she got snubbed? And now she’s got three of ‘em and it feels no big deal.”

“Yeah…” Despite his smile, there was a noticeable sadness in Ollie’s eyes. “Times change, I guess.” 

“No kidding.”

They fell into an awkward silence then, which was broken by Ollie’s offer to go to the counter and order their coffees. “My treat,” he insisted. “Least I can do after making you come all the way out here on a Monday morning.”

Asher tried to protest, but Ollie wouldn’t back down, so he had no choice but to give in.

He turned to watch Ollie thoughtfully for a moment as he crossed toward the counter. This reunion already felt so different from Lily’s wedding. Perhaps it was because they didn’t have the excitement of the wedding or Ollie’s impending fatherhood as a focus for their conversation this time. Or maybe it was because it was just the two of them. Either way, it was… 

Awkward as hell, Asher thought to himself. 

It was impossible to describe — it felt like he was meeting a stranger for the first time, except… not. All the years of history and memories between them were felt just as strongly as those years they’d spent growing apart. It was the strangest dichotomy he’d ever experienced. 

Asher was still struggling to wrap his mind around it when Ollie returned to the table, coffees in hand.

“So… where were we?” He asked with a charming smile as he returned to his seat beside Asher. 

After a quick sip of his coffee, Asher smiled. “Awkwardly trying to catch up on the past several years?”

Ollie returned his smile. “Doesn’t feel awkward to me.”

Asher raised an eyebrow skeptically. “Really?”

“Okay, maybe a little.” He admitted. “But it’s nice. I almost forgot how much I miss talking to you, Ash. And I really wanted to tell you how sorry I am about that. I’ve let way too much time go by between calls these days. But you know how it is, right?” Ollie asked with a slight shrug. “The longer you go without calling, the harder it is to pick up the phone…”

“Oh trust me, I know.” Asher assured him. “And it’s not all your fault. It goes both ways… I could’ve called more too.” He admitted.

“Well, yeah, but you’re a doctor now! I thought my schedule was bad, but I can’t even imagine what it must be like for you.”

“It’s… a lot.” He replied seriously. “Most days, I really love it. But sometimes I come home from a really shitty shift and I’m like ‘What the hell am I doing?’ You know?”

Ollie nodded sympathetically. “I get it.”

“But hey, enough about me! What about you?!” Asher smiled. “How’s married life? And fatherhood?!” He asked excitedly. “I’d love to see a picture of Violet, if you have one.”

The other man’s smile faded instantly, which did not escape Asher’s notice. Before he could say anything, however, Ollie had retrieved his phone from his pocket and pulled up his photo app, then handed the phone across the table to Asher.

Staring up from the screen was the smiling face of a beautiful little girl. 

“Oh, she’s adorable!” Asher grinned at his friend as he returned Ollie’s phone to him. 

“Thanks! Little ham for the camera already, just like her Grammy Callie.” It was clear from the warmth in Ollie’s voice just how much he loved his daughter. “I swear I got an entire photo shoot worth of poses out of her yesterday. The second I pull out my phone she’s either begging for YouTube videos or trying to get me to take her picture.” He let out a low chuckle.

It took a moment before Asher could pinpoint exactly what had felt ‘off’ about what Ollie just said. “Yesterday?” He repeated uncertainly. “ But… I thought you said you came alone.”

Asher was already beginning to lose count of the number of times their conversation had managed to wipe the smile off of Ollie’s face… But this time had to be the most obvious yet. He watched the familiar crease of guilt and anxiety work its way between Ollie’s eyebrows, just as it so often had when they were kids.

“I did…” Ollie replied softly. “Violet was already here. Natalie too.” He confessed.

“What do you mean?”

Ollie let out a slow, deep breath. “Natalie and I got divorced a little over a year ago.”

Asher’s eyes widened in surprise. Somehow, out of all the possibilities for why Ollie was out here on his own, that was one option that had never crossed his mind. “Oh shit. I’m sorry.”

“Thanks. It was pretty hard at first, but I’m okay now.” Ollie assured him. “Or at least, I was until a few months ago.” A short, humorless laugh passed his lips. 

“What happened?”

“Natalie got a huge job offer. The type she’d be totally crazy to pass up.” He explained. “But it came with a catch that was almost as massive as her new salary…” A forced smile came to his lips at these words.

That was when it finally clicked. “She had to relocate…” Asher replied, a look of understanding dawning on his face. “Here.”

Ollie nodded. “2700 miles. Literally the other side of the friggin’ country.”

“And you let her take Violet with her?!”

“I could’ve fought it. And I would’ve won, too.” Ollie paused to take another sip of his coffee. “Taking your kid even a few hundred miles away from the other parent is a total bitch to pull off in court, let alone a few thousand.

“So why’d you let her do it?” Asher asked curiously.

It was a moment before Ollie replied. He looked down into his half-empty coffee cup before speaking again. “Two reasons, I guess. One, I know what this kind of career move could mean for Violet’s future. Trust me, it’d blow your mind if you knew what Nat’s gonna be making at this new job compared to her old one… And she already made more than me.”

Asher’s eyes widened. “Oh.” He knew Natalie was some kind business executive — much higher up the corporate ladder than Reece was. But maybe he’d underestimated just how high.

“I want what’s best for my daughter. I want her to be happy and comfortable, like I was… without having to rely on my Mom all the time, you know?”

This time, Asher couldn’t help but smile. “Like you were, huh?”

Ollie laughed. “Okay, maybe minus the indoor pool and helicopter pad. But you know what I mean!”

“I do.” He assured him. “I get it.”

“And, aside from the financial gain for Violet, I guess you could say I did a little soul-searching. I haven’t been back to California in… Well, you know.” Ollie smiled. “And besides my job, it’s not like I really have much tying me to New York. Nat used to be the only reason I stayed out there. So I thought it over for a while and decided ‘Fuck it, it’s time to go back home’.”

Asher tried his best to absorb everything Ollie had just told him. This was all so far beyond what he had been expecting. “So… you’re coming back? For good?” He asked hopefully.

Ollie nodded. “The girls have been out here for about a month already. I’m still working on the job hunt and finding a decent place, so it’ll be a little while before it’s all figured out.” He explained. “Until then, I’m gonna be coming out here every few weeks to visit. Having to work my ass off extra-hard to get all those weekends off, but it’s gonna be worth it.”

“Wow… So you’re really coming home…” Asher shook his head in disbelief. “That definitely wasn’t where I was expecting this conversation to go.”

“I know. I’m sorry I did this all wrong. I should’ve told you about this a long time ago. I just had so much to figure out and all this stuff on my mind…” Ollie paused. “I was gonna wait til I was out here for good before I tried getting in touch with you. But I couldn’t.” His voice was soft, but serious. “I was sitting there alone in that airport when it finally hit me. What I need right now more than anything is a friend. And you’re the best one I’ve ever had, Ash.”

For the briefest moment, Asher felt a small fluttering in his stomach. “Well, I’m really glad you texted me the other night.” He smiled. “Whatever you need, I’m here for you. I know it’s been a long time, but that hasn’t changed.”

“I know.” Ollie returned his smile. “And you have no idea how much that means to me. Thanks for letting me spill my soul like that, and for agreeing to meet up too.” He pulled out his phone once more, checking the time. “I’m gonna have to run in a few minutes if I wanna make my flight… But I’ll be back in about three weeks, and I’d love to see you again. Maybe even with Lily, if she can make it?” He asked hopefully.

“Yeah! I’m sure she’d be down for that.”

“Awesome.” The smile on Ollie’s lips widened. “Man, the three of us together again… It’ll be just like old times, huh?”

“Yeah…” Asher felt a surge of pleasant warmth in his chest. “Just like old times.”

26 thoughts on “9.41: Dichotomy

  1. Maybe not *just* like old times 😉 Maybe it might be better than old times…. no Landon, or anyone else for that matter, to get in the way. Do I see an old flame being rekindled?

    But really, poor Ollie. I wonder what happened. She seemed kinda bitchy at Lily’s wedding … but she was pregnant. And Ollie seemed to be trying hard to make her happy. But I do get why he let her go and, of course, why he’s moving to be near. That’s exactly what my son did when he divorced and his ex wanted to move away. He figured out his job and followed to be near his daughter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha! Probably too soon to jump into romance right now, but you never know what could happen! And yes, if things go down that path it will probably be very different this time around…

      We will get a little bit more info later about the divorce. Poor Ollie. The past year or so hasn’t been super kind to him 😦 but maybe coming back to LA will be a… new beginning 😎 (wait, that’s your line 😛 )

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I Hope Ollie and Asher find Tahrir way back to each other some Say 😊 i was almost expecting then to go back to Ashers place and bang and then Penny Walking in om then 😂😂😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha! That would be some good revenge 😂😂😂😂 But nah, they’re just starting to connect again as friends. As for if anything more than that will follow… 🤷🏻‍♀️ we shall see!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about Ollie’s return. I used to love him but he just doesn’t seem to be the same kind and nice person he once was. Not only has he been distancing himself and basically forgot about his two best friends, he didn’t even bother to tell them that he got a divorce and on top of that he only called Asher so that he could feel better about himself and basically (let’s be honest) some sympathy. I recognise he’s going through something at the moment but that doesn’t give him the right to user Asher to feel better about himself or to use him to try a relive his teenage years, Asher has needs and desires too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally get what you’re saying. We are seeing Ollie in a very weird place in his life right now. To be fair, what Asher said was true, he also could have easily been the one to make more effort to keep contact too over the years. Things kind of unraveled from both ends here. They got so caught up in their own lives and careers.

      Ollie has certainly changed a little over the years, but he’s still got a kind heart too! It’s just also kind of a sad heart right now too haha

      Like

  4. Haha Asher’s thoughts at the beginning were gold – I love that his biggest concern about potentially getting a stroke were what hospital he’d end up in 😂 Doctors eh? (As someone who has a few doctor friends, it seems pretty accurate lol)

    Hm, there’s probably more to Ollie’s divorce than what he’s shared so far. If her job offer on the other coast was all there was to it, and he claims not to have much in New York and his job paying significantly less than hers, surely he would have just moved with her. If it was either a case of him being unwilling to relocate with her at first, or her flat out choosing the job instead of him, it sure sounds like they had some serious problems already, and the job offer was just the final push…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe glad you enjoyed that 😂 It felt very “Asher” for him to worry about the embarrassment of going to his own ER versus, y’know, a life-threatening medical condition 😂

      As for the divorce, there is definitely more to the story! Her job offer actually came after their divorce happened, but I’ll share that some of their marriage problems were definitely work-related! We’ll learn a little more later

      Like

  5. Very interesting! I had wondered if Ollie’s sudden return had to do with marital troubles…

    Violet is adorable! Is she the only kid so far this gen? I’m blanking on if there’s anybody else with babies yet.

    I’m so excited to see where Ollie and Asher’s relationship goes from here! I know from experience how weird it can be to try to rekindle a close friendship from teenage years as adults, so it’s going to be very interesting to see how they handle it! Plus the fact that their friendship roles are kind of reversed now with Lily. In high school it seemed like Asher was much closer to Ollie than Lily (…literally and figuratively), but now Ash and Lily have been each other’s closest friends for years! I wonder if Ollie is prepared for that shift in dynamic?

    Anyway, great chapter as usual! Don’t worry too much about your schedule, it’s always worth the wait! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You guessed correctly! Poor Ollie 😦 And yes, Violet is the only one (so far 😛 )

      And yeah, I think it’s gonna be interesting. Some of this is based a little on my own experiences (minus the love triangle 😂) I have some high school friends I lost contact with and have recently started talking to again within the past year or so and it can be such a strange thing! Especially someone who used to be your “best” friend, but now they aren’t.

      Thanks so much for your kindness and patience! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  6. HUH. Interesting. Both Ollie and Ash could use some company, so I hope it all turns out well.
    But they’ve been apart for so long, what if they outgrew their friendship?
    Ash for sure still has the hots for Ollie though, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ll see what happens after this reunion! There are many ways this could go, both good and bad!

      And you might be right about having the hots for Ollie 😉 but can you blame him? 😛 He still looks great 😍😍😍

      Like

  7. Ollie is coming back!!!

    I hope Asher gets to meet Ollie’s little girl in person. She’s adorable!!! No doubt will turn out to be a very pretty woman.

    Not sure how I feel about Ollie’s hair either–I’m with Asher on that but he does look older and more professional.

    I understand how hard it might be for Ollie not to tell Asher his troubles. Getting a divorce is stressful and embarrassing. It means you’ve failed and no one wants to tell someone they probably still have feelings for that they failed. And he may have had other reasons for hiding it. Asher is an old flame and he’s probably tried to stow those feelings down but they resurfaced and he’s still in love. I know it!

    Banging next! (I hope. 😉 )

    And then Asher will meet up with Landon somehow and all hell will break loose. HEE! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha I know! I felt bad making his hair shorter, but it felt more realistic to do something shorter for a trial attorney who wants to look professional and be taken seriously in court. Still got that handsome face though 😉

      And you’re exactly right about why Ollie didn’t tell Asher. It was upsetting, embarrassing, and stressful and not something he really wanted to share. As for whether any feelings linger… time will tell! And LMAO at your wish for banging 😂

      And a Landon return too??? 🤔 Nah. That would be way to dramatic! I’d never! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hmm I wondered if Olile might have been divorced last chapter. I imagine there are going to be some happy and not so happy times ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have just read everything you have posted in the last 3 days. Awesome story. However for some reason i cannot get 9.42 to load, is it just me?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whoops! I think I forgot to update the link! Thanks for letting me know (glad you found the chapter though!) and most importantly, thank you so much for taking the time to read my story! ❤️ I appreciate it so much and I’m glad you have enjoyed!

      Like

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