The gentle whistle of freedom passed by the living room window as if it were baiting the two girls inside to come out and play. Viv looked up, a subtle frown on her face. She loved Fall. The nip of cold, the woody smell of the earth preparing to hibernate, the accessories.

“I can hear you sighing,” Ani grumbled.

Viv tore herself away from the window long enough to catch Ani falling over into a slew of pillows. It was the beginning of Fall break for them. When Ani suggested a study break together, Viv was skeptical. They all had different ways of studying, and even more different ways of dealing with the stress of it. For her, she forgot to eat. For Ani it was nothing short of madness. One second Ani was on the floor and the next she was jogging around the house, all with notes in hand or a lecture playing through her ear buds.

The pillows were the latest thing. With Viv’s help, Ani cleared the living room floor so they could sit and study together. Eventually they pulled back the coffee table but everything else remained the same until Ani decided she needed to  be surrounded by pillows.

“Ahhh!” Ani shot up to sitting position once more with a battle cry. “I will finish this chapter and then I will get to have gummy worms.”

“Ani, we don’t have any.” Stretching out her back, Viv glanced out the window again. “Is there a park around here?”

“A park?” Ani’s lip poked out in through, leaving Viv to silently wonder if she just suggested the worst distraction. “You know….Let’s go find one!”

“Ani!” Viv barely got the name out before Ani shot off to get ready. Not that it mattered. Her attempt to get Ani’s attention was a waste. Sighing, Viv pulled out her phone to call Winny and Adaline but stopped when she remembered neither one of them were available yet. Winny still had another hour before she landed and Adaline another five.

Her fingers scrolled to the next best person. She pressed the call button and waited nervously for the ringing to stop. When it didn’t, she lowered her head to the coffee table and waited for the depressing beep to leave a voicemail.

“Hi…Everything is sort of okay. I think Ani’s gone crazy. She hasn’t been able to sit still for hours and I might have made it worse. I really want to study outside but…Dietrich, I think she’s planning to ditch studying all together. I don’t know what to do. I can’t just stop. I need to get an A to balance out the B I know I’m getting in Civil History. I…I need to go. I think I hear her bouncing down the stairs….” Viv picked up her head. Seeing no Ani yet, she hurried up. “I miss you.” Not sure if she could trust herself, Viv hung up before she rambled. “I know you’re there.”

“Not fair.” Ani poked her head around the corner. “How can you always tell?”

“I can hear you.”

“Oh.”

Viv slowly started closing her books. While Ani’s side of the room looked like chaos, hers was organized. Her notebooks were stacked with their corresponding textbooks and any additional material. Her planner was next to her along with her general folder, a stack of sticky notes, and a pack of multicolored highlighters she had to save from Ani more than once.

“Hey, Viv,” Ani paused, waiting for Viv to look up, “Can we get ice-cream?”

“Ani,” she finally sighed, “I need to study. This really matters to me.”

“I know…” Ani looked down in defeat. “But…Ryker always takes me to get ice-cream when I can’t focus.”

So that’s why, Viv nodded once she understood the bigger problem. The boys being gone was one of the main reasons Viv agreed to spending the break together with the girls. Despite her anxiety of failing, Viv felt for the others. Ryker, Marlon, and Tucker took off on a last-minute mission to find another person with powers like them. When they were all at the Institute, the missions didn’t bother the girls as much. They were together through it all which always made waiting easier, but with everyone going to undergrad in different states, the wait was unbearable.

Thinking about Dietrich, Viv smiled. “Let’s get ice-cream and we can find a place that does karaoke for when Adaline and Winny get here.” Her GPA mattered to her, but not as much as the thankful smile on Ani’s face.

“K.” Ani’s smile faltered but she didn’t let it stop her. “Then I’m ready.”

Viv looked her over once Ani stopped hiding behind the wall. A pair of shorts and a sweater wasn’t remotely ‘ready’ to Viv but she didn’t argue. Instead, she got up, linked her arm with Ani’s, and went to the door. “Fine, but you’re in charge of quizzing me in the car.”

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