BBW I Liked You Better Fat [~BBWs, ~XWG, ~Slow Burn]

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Avery said it best when she said that she liked Cheyenne better when she was fat. And if it were up to her, fat she would be again.

With a little gumption and some clever reinforcement, Avery might just get her Big Fat Friend back...


I

Friendship isn’t a big thing—it’s a million and a half little ones that, with proper care, can last a lifetime.

This is the kind of friendship that carries you from one stage of your life to the next, and is unfortunately an exceedingly rare thing. Too often, when we undergo a change of scenery, we run the risk of losing those that are closest to us. Whether it be graduating from school, getting a new job, or moving away from home, even the most ardent companionships can be tested and fail in the face of change. It is in the midst of these great upheavals in life, too often, that we find out who our friends truly are.

However sometimes stagnancy is the cause of these rifts. Rather than any great outward change, sometimes an inner development can test the waters of a once great friendship, only to find that it comes up shallow.

***​

“Have you guys seriously just not moved since I left this morning?”

Cheyenne had shut the door more aggressively than she’d intended, and it had left her re-entry into the apartment with a nasty punctuation. The clutter on the kitchen counter and its sister pile on top of the fridge trembled enough to make a small secondary noise, alerting her housemates to a perceived annoyance that she held with their laziness. She just barely fought back a wince.

“Why, would that be a problem?”

Avery pitched a fat arm over the back of the couch, turning to face Cheyenne belly first with no small amount of contention. Brooke peeped out from behind her, looking more like a deer caught in headlights as she did her best to ward off any potential confrontation between the three of them with creased eyebrows and a worried look.

“I was just joking, Jesus.” Cheyenne turned corner to open the fridge, “God you’re so sensitive.”

“It didn’t sound like you were joking.”

Avery’s thick thumb pressed down hard on the Roku remote’s central pause button. Brooke’s stomach squelched uncomfortably in the face of conflict, something that she’d gotten used to over the past few weeks and months. Passive-aggressive comments had laid the groundwork for quasi-aggressive arguments to start cropping up over nothing. With the way that the little black remote had come undone at the edge, the force with which Avery had said her peace before slamming it down on the arm of the unfortunate couch beneath them, it appeared that today was going to be the fabled day.

“Look, I’m sorry I slammed the door okay?” Cheyenne whipped around with one of her smoothies in-hand, “I’m not trying to start anything today.”

“And neither am I.”

“Okay, then don’t.”

“I won’t.”

“Good.”

The two of them let out similar sounding huffs before begrudgingly resuming their day-to-day schedules. Avery remained in place on the couch while Cheyenne stomped through the kitchen, behind her roommates, and into her bedroom along the back wall of the apartment. This time she did mean to slam the door.

“I hate her.” Avery said loud enough that Cheyenne could have heard it even if she hadn’t been right next to the door, “I really, really mean it.”

“Avery—”

“No, I do! She’s such a fucking bitch to me now. To both of us!”

Avery tossed the Roku remote petulantly across the room. It collided against the wall but remained intact. If either of them were the sort of woman to get up and grab the damn thing as it laid on the floor, Avery was certainly the type of person to give smashing it against the walls of her apartment another go. Months of bubbling anger and frustration against someone who was one of her very best friends had left her a grumpy mess.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to resolve itself any time soon—despite what Brooke had been telling her for weeks now.

“Well, I mean… she was probably just tired from going to the gym.”

“So she shouldn’t fucking go!” Avery shouted, “I go to work and I come home just like everyone else and I don’t slam doors and start shit with you guys!”

Avery bowed her elbows and pushed hard against the arm of the couch, a lethargic grunt escaping from deep in her belly as she stood on her feet for the first time in a few hours. Pop Tart crumbs tumbled from the canopy of her upper tier of stomach and onto the floor as she took some heavy-footed steps towards the kitchen. Soft flesh trembled side to side with her every quaking step, her leggings rode down the slope of her ample cheek meat. Picking at the waistband with one hand, she grabbed a soda with the other and whipped back around.

“You want one while I’m up?” Avery cracked the top with chunky fingers

“No, I’m good…”

Brooke averted her eyes as Avery killed an entire can of soda before making her way back to the couch. Crunching it in her hands, the bodacious blonde opened the fridge and grabbed another one from the shelf. She tossed it to Brooke who, just barely, managed to catch it.

“We’re almost out—you know Cheye will pitch a fit if I order more before they’re all gone.”

“Ugh, you’re right…”

Brooke eased the pop top open, her chunky left arm held taut while her right bent with surgical precision. Crack! The carbonated brown bubbles fizzed as a small cloud of the stuff began to foam over the hole. After a few seconds, she finished the job and opened up the can for good.
 
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“I just hate her now. She’s all…” Avery crinkled her nose and furrowed her eyebrows as she searched for a word that sounded classier and more accurate than the generic bitchy, “Like, you know, ever since she lost all that weight—”

“Oh my god you are not bringing up her weight loss again.” Brooke shifted in her squeaking seat on the couch, “Avery, just because someone decides to lose weight doesn’t mean that they stop having fun. She’s still Cheye.”

“Okay, but like no she’s not.” Avery leaned on the kitchen counter, her stomach cutting into the edge and rolling over by a good margin, “Ever since she decided that she was too good to hang out with us, all she’s done is bitch because we don’t want to go… jog or whatever.”

Brooke bit her bottom lip, silently pleading with her friend to not raise her voice so loud that Cheyenne might hear her in the other room. Holding out her hands in front of her belly, Brooke urged Avery to calm down. Or at least lower her voice.

“Ugh. You’re such a Mom Friend.” Avery swiveled back around on her heels to grab another soda, “But come on, you have to admit it—life was way better for all three of us back when Cheyenne was fat.”

Here Brooke stifled a laugh. Avery saw it, and cracked a smile. It had done more to ease the tension than any whimpering that the busty brunette on the couch had done, and it was almost as cathartic to say out loud as it had been to toss that stupid tiny remote against the wall.

“That’s mean; we should really be more supportive.” Brooke’s words fell flat when she couldn’t wipe a guilty little grin from between her cheeks, “You know she lost, like, two hundred pounds.”

“Yeah, and it all came out of her personality.” Avery chuckled, “Seriously, you give me the choice between tacos and beer or a flat belly and I’ll pick tacos and beer every day of the week.”

“Obviously.” Brooke cut eyes at Avery’s roly-poly middle

“Obviously.” Avery said with a little pat of her belly, “But you know, it’s not like I’m some fat slob. I’m not a horrible person for liking myself.”

“Somebody has to.”

“I’m serious!” Avery laughed, “When Cheye said she wanted to lose weight, I was supportive. Wasn’t I supportive?”

“You were.” Brooke took a sip from her soda, “We both were!”

“And I never made her feel bad for dipping out on movie nights.” Avery held up a proud, pudgy pointer finger, “Or for not helping pay for takeout anymore—”

“She stopped eating takeout, Avery.”

“Okay, but whatever. The point is, I didn’t act like a bitch when she wanted to change everything about how we all hang out together.”

“No more than usual.”

“Exactly! Like, we’ve all been friends for years, so what, she loses weight and she decides that she’s better than us?”

“I don’t think that she thinks that she’s better than us, Avery.” Brooke continued with some trepidation, “She’s just trying to get healthy.”

“Fuck, she already lost 200 pounds… how much healthier can she get?”

Avery’s footsteps echoed in the floor below her as she trekked back towards the couch. Her tummy trembled, nestled snugly in the roomy crotch of her trusty sweatpants, and shaking from side to side at every step. Squatting back down onto the couch, a relieved grunt of satisfaction sounding from deep in her chest, she laid one hand back on the arm of the couch while the other laid rest across the swell of her stomach.

For as long as it had mattered, Avery had always been fat. All of them, the three of them, were. That was (in a weird way) one of the reasons that they all got along so well.

With other friends there had always been the looming reality of being their group’s Fat Friend. It had reared its head as early as Middle School for Avery and Brooke, and then eventually in High School for Cheyenne. The fact that, regardless of how their social circle changed according to the whims of adolescent socialization, they were always the biggest girls in all of their friend groups had been a strange topic of conversation to get onto but one that proved invaluable nonetheless.

When they started hanging out with each other, there was none of that. They were just three girls who knew enough of the same people, disliked enough of the same people, and had a mutual appreciation for food and natural affinity against exercise. It had carried them through high school, through college, and into their twenties.

Their friendship had been so simple.

Why Cheyenne had decided to fuck that up was beyond Avery.

“Healthier than us, that’s for sure.” Brooke sipped on her soda before running a deprecative hand over her own tubby tummy for emphasis, “I think I actually managed to find some of the weight that she lost.”

“Yeah, well…” Avery grumbled, drumming her stomach contemplatively, “I still liked her better when she was a fatass like the rest of us mere mortals.”

“I know you did, hun.” Brooke pat her friend on the shoulder placatively, “But…”

Brooke sighed. The sad, dejected sigh that she had been doing for the past few weeks while she’d been waiting for the tensions to boil over and fizzle out. Avery already knew what her friend was going to say before it had time to crawl up to her lips.

“Everything will work out in the end.”

They had both said it in unison, with Avery’s eyebrows furrowing crossly at her more passive friend who sheepishly bowed away from the topic.

“Did anybody ever tell you that you’re predictable?”

“Once or twice.” Brooke offered a smile before putting her can down, “I’m gonna get ready for work. Are you guys gonna be okay if I leave you two alone?”

“No, we’re not going to claw each other’s eyes out or anything.” Avery sniffed, “…But I might sit on her for a little while.”

The two of them shared a good laugh at that, with Brooke grunting and rocking much the same as Avery had before her. Plodding and plumping along the floor of their third-story apartment, Brooke wiggled her way tummy-first into her bedroom and shut the door behind her.

Avery’s face fell back to bitter as soon as she was alone. Reaching over to paw at Brooke’s abandoned soda, she managed a strained missive:

“Don’t care what you say… I still liked her better when she was fat.”
 
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II

Cheyenne’s trainer had always told her that there are two kinds of people in every gym, with two wholly unique approaches to how they view exercise.

Some people would never come around to exercise as a way of recreation. No matter how many times they did it, no matter how “easy” it became for them, they would never truly see things like going to the gym and waking up early to go jogging around the block as things that passed for “fun”. It wasn’t that they weren’t capable, but rather that they viewed exercise as a sort of routine preventative maintenance. This first gym-goer would always face an uphill battle when it came to personal fitness, no matter how proficient they may be.

The second type of person was the exact opposite, and viewed exercise as a way to have fun. These kinds of people weren’t inherently more capable than anyone else, they just had a passion inside of them for getting their bodies moving. These people believed firmly in things like getting pumped and reaching past thresholds, even if they weren’t necessarily good at being athletic. These are the types of gym-goers who would gladly wake up early (or stay up late) and get in their exercise should their schedules allow it.

And as much as Cheyenne liked to tell herself that she was the latter, even her trainer had known her to be the former.

Even after years of using an elliptical, she still felt the burn in her thighs and arms. Her head swam with thoughts that pulled her off to one side of the machine, subconsciously lassoing her away from her goal. Learning how to deal with these thoughts had been the first step in her losing weight, but accepting that they were always going to be there to tempt her away from her goal was something that she feared she would never get used to.

“Come on Cheye, just two more minutes!”

“Fuck…fuckfuckfuck…”

She had been sweating buckets for the past forty-five minutes. Cardio days were always the hardest for her. Strength days weren’t exactly easy, but at least she could stop and take a breather. She had Riley to spot for her and help her out if she ever felt like she was in over her head. But running on the treadmill, the elliptical, the Stairmaster… Cheyenne knew that no one could make her run, but sometimes she wished that her contract had come with a Cattle Prod clause to help keep her motivated.

Maybe if they waved a donut on a stick in front of your face you’d do it, huh fatty?

Grumbling at her inner critic, Cheyenne mustered forward.

“One minute and thirty seconds, and you can get off this thing!”

These minutes were the hardest in her life, even after all of these months slimming down. The last five minutes of every workout were agonizing. The final minute may as well have been a year. But Riley keeping her motivated by telling her how much time had passed was a good start towards keeping herself from getting lost staring at the digital clock that was still dewy with her sweat.

“Fifty-seven seconds, Cheye—come on, you gotta want it!”

“I… want… it…”

“You gotta want it, Big Girl!”

“I… want… it!”

She cheated a little, stealing a glance at the clock. She wasn’t supposed to (at least, according to her own rules) but sometimes it had helped. Fifty-two seconds now, and fifty-one. Fifty. According to the purple and black display on the head of the elliptical, she’d burned just over nine hundred calories since she got on this damn thing. Her whole body ached and begged her to stop. She knew that she was reaching her plateau. The last minute was always the hardest.

She decided to kick ahead—digging deep into her reserve of energy in order to power through the last measly forty-seven seconds that separated her from being done for the day. The last forty-five seconds that were keeping her from rewarding herself with whatever she’d told herself that she’d use her cheat day on. An extra smoothie from the fridge. A Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks. A fucking Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, no pickles no onions—

“Thirty seconds, Cheye come on!

“Fuck…fuh…ckk…”

Cheyenne gripped the bars hard and dug her nails into the black padding. She shut her eyes tight and started kicking like crazy. Fuck her form, fuck all of the things that Riley had been bugging her about. All she wanted was to be off of this stupid machine and away from this gym and in her tub at home with a goddamn milkshake and two thick patties of all-American beef that dribbled grease into the bathwater while she wolfed the whole goddamn fucking thing down—

Fifteen seconds, don’t quit on me now!”

Come on fatty, just fifteen more seconds!

She cheated a little more this time. Pushing up on the bars so as to take the pressure off of her heels and ankles. It was a little thing, but she didn’t think that Riley would notice. It was just for the last thirteen seconds. Ten seconds. Eight seconds.

“Kick, kick, kick!”

“Um… tryin…”

Five… four… three… two… one…

The machine’s beep beep beep was the sweetest sound that she had ever heard. Three times a week for the past fifteen months and she had never gotten tired of hearing those little chimes that announced, with flashing orange numbers, that she was finally finished for the day.

Her limp legs struggled to acquiesce to the ground, ready to roll her ankle. She’d done it before and, if it hadn’t been for Riley holding her steady, she might have done it again.

“Great job today, Cheye.” She said with a firm hard slap on her client’s hot, sweaty back, “You know how many calories you burned today?”

“Fuck… a… billion?”

“Good guess.” Riley rolled her eyes, glancing down at her tablet with a proud smile on her face, “Fifteen hundred, so you were close.”

“That’s… a lot…” Cheyenne puffed, bracing herself on the smaller woman’s shoulder as she held herself steady, “Water. Gimme water.”

“You’ve earned it.” Riley beamed, handing over a faded and worn Planet Fitness bottle, “I gotta ask—what’d you think about to get through those last few minutes? You looked like you were really struggling there for a while, but your eyebrows did that thing.”

“That… thing?”

“Yeah, the thing.” Riley did her best to furrow her tight trimmed and waxed brow into a facsimile of what Cheyenne’s had done, “You only get that look on your face when you’re really pissed.”

In that moment, she had almost wanted to tell her trainer the truth. That she had been thinking about fucking cheeseburgers. The fact that she’d wanted one for about a month but hadn’t worked up the nerve to pull into the McDonalds drive-thru on her cheat day. The phantom taste of her regular order had lingered on her taste buds even now.

“My roommate and me…” Cheyenne lied, “We… had another fight... few days ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry about that.” Riley clicked her tongue, “This is Avery, right?”

“Yeah, she’s… kind of a bitch.”

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that.” Riley put a firm hand on her shoulder, “But you know, if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here. Okay?”

“Yeah.” Cheyenne nodded in agony of her burning lungs and needled muscles, “I got it.”

“Do you… wanna talk about it now?” Riley ventured with an inquisitive eyebrow, “My next client cancelled on me, so I’ve got at least an hour.”

“Sorry, I can’t. I’m… actually meeting her to talk about everything.” Cheyenne grimaced, “Gotta shower off.”

“Yeah, you’re pretty ripe.” Riley joked, “Just… hey, don’t forget. You’ve all been friends for a long time. But don’t forget that you’ve gotta come first sometimes. Okay?”

Cheyenne smiled. A genuine one that distracted her from the aching pain in her… everywhere.

“Yeah, I know.” She said with a slap of Riley’s defined biceps, “Thanks, coach.”

“Any time.” Riley smiled back, “Now go wash up. I wasn’t kidding about you being ripe.”

***​
 
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Avery had asked to meet up at the Barnes & Noble Starbucks, just down the street from where Cheyenne’s gym was.

On another day, Cheyenne would have (and had, plenty of times) said no to such a request. But today was going to be a cheat day. And as much as she wanted to finally grab herself a nice greasy burger (no matter what Riley might have said about it after the fact!) Cheyenne figured that a Grande Caramel Frappuccino was as good of a treat as any—especially if it meant that she and Avery could sit down for the first time in weeks and not have a fight.

“Did you… have a good workout?” Avery ventured blindly, “Get your pumped maxed or whatever?”

“Mostly just whatever.” Cheyenne snorted, “Enough whatever that I probably shouldn’t have gotten the Venti.”

“Hey, it’s just a few extra calories.” Avery offered a weak smile, “I think you’ve earned a treat.”

Cheyenne chuckled at that. It wasn’t often that she and Avery agreed on much of anything these days. But she had felt that, after everything, an extra inch of squishy iced coffee and some artificial flavors wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Honestly, it felt like the greatest fucking thing in the world right now. She was still so exhausted. This was the last day of the week in her routine—her two days of rest were about to be upon her, and she wasn’t about to lift a finger if she could help it. Off from work, off from the gym, and laying at home in her pajamas…

“So… about the other day.”

“Yeah, about that.”

A collective gasp for breath, an audible steeling of the nerves.

“I’m sorry if I came across as a bitch”

They had both said it at the same time. Considering how long that they had been friends, neither was surprised to learn that the other one was on the same plane. These past few weeks and months had been filled with arguments and apologies as Cheyenne tried her best to slim down to a manageable weight. And while Avery and Brooke had proven themselves resistant (if not at times obstructive) to that goal, both of them had clearly had enough of the fighting for now.

“Jinx, you owe me a Coke!”

“Oh, fuck you.”

Avery stuck out her tongue before taking a big slurp of her Frappuccino. Cheyenne kicked her friend softly in the fat shin with her sneaker.

“It tell you what—how about instead of a Coke, I buy you one of those for the road?” Avery pointed at the half-empty Venti cup, “You know those things go to shit the closer you get to the bottom.”

In the time that Cheyenne had been under Riley’s wing, nearly thirteen months and counting, she had undergone a lot of work in refusing (what her trainer called) “toxic reinforcement”. The kind of behavior that gets you thinking about how good of a job you’ve done with your workout, so you don’t think twice about a big reward for yourself. Things like extra slices of cake, a soda, maybe a beer, those were all well and good in moderation. But Cheyenne’s problem for years had been that she didn’t know when to stop.

But it had been a long time since she and Avery had sat down and had a conversation that didn’t end in a fight. She didn’t want to push her luck.

“How about an iced coffee instead?” Cheyenne placed her cup down, “A tall iced coffee.”

“With hazelnut syrup?”

“…Okay, fine.” She relented, “But if Riley asks, it was just an iced coffee.”
 
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III

Tensions around the apartment had cooled for the moment.

Despite their heart to heart in Starbucks, things were still a little awkward between Avery and Cheyenne. Instead of finding reasons to yell at one another every time they so much as made eye contact, they were now down to fumbling around in conversation. Something that had never been an issue until recently—Avery, Brooke, and Cheyenne always had something to talk about.

“What are you guys watching?”

Cheyenne had ventured the question with some hesitation. She was still trying to mind her tone so that she didn’t come across as too bossy or intrusive. She propped herself up on the back of the couch with both arms, spreading the central width of the couch and leaving about a foot on each side. John Williams’ fanfare filled the apartment.

“Uh, duh.” Avery snorted, “Star Wars marathon.”

“Ooh.” Cheyenne purported interest, “Classic, Prequel, or Sequel?”

“Prequel.” Brooke leaned back and pat the empty space between them, “Wanna watch with us?”

“Yeah, come on Cheye, join us.” Avery sipped from her soda, “It’s been forever since we all got to indulge in America’s favorite past-time—”

Star Wars fans ripping on Star Wars.” Cheyenne nodded warmly, “Best way to spend a Sunday.”

“You in?”

“Nah, I can’t.” Cheyenne sucked through her teeth, “Gotta meet Riley. She’s gonna be out of town Monday, so we’re getting in my workout in today.”

And there was that little vein in Avery’s head. That special little crease that only seemed to fold just right whenever Cheyenne talked about working out. Her face would purse and she’d slump slightly, her lips pooched contemplatively out in front of her while things between the three of them grew quiet.

“Okay, well, if you can’t you can’t.” her voice jumped an octave, “We’ll see you when you get home.”

“I know, I suck.” Cheyenne offered a weak smile in apology, “But I tell you what, why don’t I pick up Moe’s on the way home?”

“You can still eat at Moe’s?” Avery cocked an eyebrow, “What, that’s not like… against your diet or whatever?”

“Yeah, I can still get some things on the menu…” Cheyenne’s smile flattened, sensing the tension rising between them already, “I’ll, uh… I’ll text you when I get out, okay?”

“Have fun!” Brooke waved, “Try not to hurt yourself!”

As soon as the door clicked shut behind her, Brooke paused the dive scene to the Gungan capital and swat her friend across the arm.

“What the hell was that about?” Brooke rasped, more concerned than angry, “I thought you two made up!”

“What the fuck are you mad at me for?” Avery’s petulant gesticulation sent ripples through her arms and stomach, “She’s the one who blew off our Star Wars marathon so she can go… work out!”

“She’s blown off like three other Star Wars marathons and you never got pissed at her before!”

“Correction, I got very pissed every single time.” Avery huffed, “It’s just… I don’t know. I thought we were making progress.”

“We’re not making progress? Avery that was the first time you two haven’t screamed at each other first thing in the morning for like two weeks.”

Avery huffed petulantly and bit into her biscuit.

“Look, I wanted her to sit down too, but we’ve got to respect the fact that she doesn’t want to lay around on the couch with us all the time. Honestly, we should probably have gone with her—”

“Would you listen to yourself?”

You listen to yourself, Avery!” Brooke’s voice rose to an uncharacteristic shout, “You’re mad at Cheyenne for not sitting down and watching a movie with you, you’re mad at her for not eating takeout food with us, you’re mad at her for spending time going to the gym… and now you’re mad at me for suggesting that we should have made an effort to do what she wants to do!”

“I’m not doing this today.” Avery abdicated her place on the couch, pushing off the arm and grabbing her Bojangles bag, “I’m not fighting with you too.”

“Avery we’re not fighting!” Brooke’s big doe eyes welled up with tears, “You’re just acting like a total bitch to me for no reason, and—"

The door slammed shut behind her as Avery strutted out into the hall, carrying her purse, her phone, and a bag of greasy takeout breakfast. Muttering to herself about ungrateful friends and bitches this and bitches that, she jammed a fat finger into the elevator button. While she waited, biscuit crumbs tumbled down the bigness of her belly while she forced angry bites into her mouth.

By the time the elevator had reached her floor, her second biscuit was gone.
 
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Whenever Avery was upset, she would eat.

Her weight problem had begun in earnest when her mother and father had gotten divorced. At about twelve years old, she had learned that food had brought her much more comfort than the consolation prizes of a doubled present ratio for Christmases and birthdays as well as having two bedrooms all to herself, even if one was only for the weekends. Food had even helped her through the awkward alternating holidays, the getting grilled on either side by both of her parents trying to dig up dirt to spite the other one, and cringe conversations with her new step-father as he tried not to “overstep his boundaries”.

From that point onward, you could watch in old photos as Avery steadily grew outward from a gangly little blonde pre-adolescent and into a chunky teenager, before finally graduating at just over two hundred and fifty pounds by Senior Year. Thankfully for her, as she’d gotten older, her gain had plateaued around there. After hitting an all-time high of two hundred and eighty pounds in her Sophomore year of college, she’d mostly teetered on either side of two-seventy since graduation.

However, days like this threatened to put that delicate balance into jeopardy.

Driving behind her, you might have assumed that Avery was ticking off drive-thru windows as she went along. She made a stop at all of her favorite places and ordered her favorite things—milk shakes, chicken nuggets, burritos and square hamburgers… all tried and true methods of raising her spirits when she was down. Or, failing that, at least letting her feel something other than anger.

“Ahh…”

Satisfied with what had been her biggest binge in a while, Avery untucked her belly from underneath the crotch of her leggings. A full six inches of stomach, her lowermost roll of meaty middle, were on display as she leaned her car seat back to a more comfortable position.

Her eyes were still red and irritated from crying. The guy in the Wendy’s drive-thru must have thought she was totally insane, getting an earful of her life story. But goddammit she needed someone to talk to and he was there, and he was a lot nicer than that skinny bitch working at Taco Bell…

Avery’s phone beeped through the Bluetooth connection. Yet another text message to add to the pile, but this one wasn’t from Brooke.

Hey I heard you and Brooke had a fight. U okay?

“Fuck you.”

Avery tossed the phone into the floorboard. Cheyenne had absolutely no reason to get involved when she was the reason that they were all fighting. If she had just watched the fucking Star Wars movie with them, Brooke wouldn’t have jumped down her throat and then Avery wouldn’t have had to leave and everything would have just been normal.

At least, for the past few months, it had been her and Brooke against Cheyenne. They had both agreed that Cheyenne should take it easy and that she was working herself too hard, that she looked fine before the weight loss and that she could be a little judgmental now that she was all fit and shit. But now, all of the sudden, Avery was the bad guy?

Fuck you, Cheyenne.”

She said it again, a little louder, and to absolutely no one at all except for anyone unfortunate enough to hear her in the mall parking lot where she’d stationed herself for her impromptu lunch. She shoved a few more fries into her mouth, debating on leaning over and grabbing the phone from the floorboard to tell her as much in text.

Fortunately for their friendship, Avery was too big around the belly to bend that way—at least not easily. After a couple of half-hearted attempts, Avery had deemed it impossible for her to do on a full stomach, and ultimately not worth the effort. She returned to her reclined position more frustrated than ever.

“UGGGGGGGGH!!”

If she had been a teenager again, she might have brought a pillow to her face to muffle her scream. But as it was, she was just an angry, fat twenty-something who now felt ganged up on by two of her closest friends. Her roommates, no less.

Why was everything changing? All of the sudden, out of the blue. Why, after literally years of everything being so perfect between the three of them, did Cheyenne have to go and fuck everything up? Now she looked like a bitch for not being supportive!

“I swear to fucking God, I liked Cheyenne so much better when she was fat.”

Avery’s expression tightened into a pout, her brow stern and her chubby cheeks rosy.

“Fuck her for trying to act like she’s better than us.”

She wiped her nose on her arm and sniffled heartily, choking back more tears.

“It’s her fault for getting Brooke mad at me, and it’s her fault for being such a fucking cunt to me all the time…”

Her lower lip trembled, however briefly, as a genuine sadness overtook the sort of petulance that fueled her usual temper tantrums.

“I just want my fucking friend back.”

We should be more supportive

“Fuck being supportive.”

She lost, like, two hundred pounds…

“I hope she gains it all back. Every single fucking pound.”

She’s just trying to get healthy…

“Then maybe at least she’d act like my friend again…”

She tried to imagine it—to will it into existence—Cheyenne just plumping back out until she weighed three hundred pounds again. To see her smug, skinny face with round cheeks and a chunky double chin again. Her big fat ass ripping through leggings, puttering around whining that she was chafed from having to fucking stand all day. That belly drooping and sagging with her tits sloped from side to side as the apartment quaked from her footsteps.

God, it would have been so sweet.

And then, there wouldn’t be any problems between them, because Cheyenne wouldn’t strut around like she was better than everyone. Like, okay, yeah, you managed to lose two hundred pounds. Whoopty-fucking do. It didn’t change how she made everyone else feel around her, and Cheyenne had done nothing but make Avery feel like shit about herself, about her body, and about what she liked to do on her own time ever since she started this stupid weight loss journey.

Things would go back to normal between them.

No more fights. No more shouting. No more stomping around the apartment. A return to a Golden Age of just the three of them ordering bullshit takeout food and sitting through as many fucking movie marathons as they could stomach.

How great would it have been if she could just… undo everything for the past few months? To have Cheyenne go back to being the person that she used to be? Sure she’d be fat and lazy, but they were all fat and lazy. At least, they all used to be…

Avery took a slurp from her dry well of what had once been a large Baja Blast. Her eyes lingered wistfully the R on her gear shift as she palmed the shaft and backed out of her parking space.
 
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IV

Cheyenne had been surprised when Avery asked to meet up with her after she got out of the gym.

With the way that they’d been getting on lately, she hadn’t been expecting it. They had been down this road before, of course. Cheyenne’s weight loss had followed a dotted line where she and Avery would fight, blow up at each other, and then make up before starting the process all over again. But all throughout the course of her quest to slim down, it had never been Avery who had made the big step forward. Always, it had been Cheyenne (and at least once or twice, Brooke acting as a neutral party) who had extended the first olive branch.

Maybe she’s finally ready to be the bigger person…

And Cheyenne had caught herself at the unintended meaning of her phrasing.

Not like that, just…

The last thing that Cheyenne needed was for one of her best friends in the world to think that she was being a health Nazi. So when Avery had decided to meet at the Dunkin’ Donuts just down the way from Planet Fitness, she wasn’t in much to refuse. Her friendship with Avery might have well depended on keeping every meeting for at least the next few weeks—were they in that dire of straights now?

To think that there had been a time when she hadn’t looked forward a coffee break with her oldest friend like a bank robber looked forward to a lineup.

But Avery had surprised her. There had been none of the usual histrionics that tended to come when they were on the outs. She had let her order her own coffee (she hadn’t snuck in any extra sugars or anything!) and hadn’t even pressured her to pick out something from the menu (despite having ordered a breakfast sandwich that she’d picked at throughout their meeting). There was almost none of the awkwardness, they passed stories back and forth, and it had just felt really, really comfortable between them for the first time in…

God, Cheyenne couldn’t remember.

But Cheyenne had been at a loss for words when Avery had asked her the nine words she’d never thought that she’d ever hear fall out of Avery’s mouth:

“Can I go to the gym with you sometime?”

Cheyenne had almost spat out her coffee as soon as she’d heard it. Avery? At a gym? She’d never though that she’d live to see the day!

“What, like… seriously?” Cheyenne asked incredulously, “You… you want to go work out with me?”

“No, I want us to be friends again.” Avery said with the cutest little huff, “But I realized that I’ve been asking you to make all of the sacrifices without actually… you know, doing any work of my own. And that’s not fair to you and I just feel like maybe us having this… you know, thing together is the best way to get back to some kind of normal for us.”

“That’s… really, really sweet.” Cheyenne could only smile warmly, her eyes welling up, “Of course you can come with me—Like I’ve said before, I get to bring a guest.”

“I don’t want to go crazy, okay?” Avery held up a chubby white hand, as if to stall Cheyenne in place, “Just like… once a week. Thirty minutes of cardio. Something to help keep me in these jeans. Maybe like… Fridays?”

“Hey, that works out great for me, Riley and I are switching to a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule after this week!”

“Oh.” Avery made a face, “Well… would it be okay if we did it Saturdays?”

“Sure but, I don’t think Riley will train you for free.”

“That’s fine!” Avery smiled and took a big chomp out of her sandwich, “I just… you know, I don’t want you to make an extra trip just for me. Plus, I just want to do a little. And we can get coffee after! It’ll be so much fun!”

“Yeah!” Cheyenne beamed wide and proud, “Do you think we could carpool?”

“Absolutely.” Avery’s smile was dotted with crumbs, soon hidden as she rose the lid of her coffee over her mouth, “I just want to get back to being us… you know?”
 
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It didn’t take a trained physician to see that Avery hadn’t really earned her never-ending break.

“So that’s… Avery… right?”

With the way Riley had asked it, you would have thought that she was asking about an ex-lover. There was a distinct cadence to her voice that, through no fault of her own, conveyed a certain level of disdain for the belly-heavy blonde that was currently sitting on the weight bench and modelling for her Instagram. For someone who had known her for more than a year, Cheyenne could tell by the way the bridge of her nose crinkled and the way that the corners of her mouth tugged that her personal trainer didn’t think very highly of the day’s guest.

“Yup, that’s her.”

Cheyenne had said with a small purse of her lips. A very subtle way of mediating between “this is what I have to deal with” and “I can’t say anything too negative about her, because we’re best friends” that wasn’t lost on Riley.

With how much Riley had heard about Avery and Brooke over the course of Cheyenne’s weight loss journey, she almost felt like she knew her already. Truthfully, she hadn’t been surprised when she’d crapped out on the treadmill after almost a minute. Nor had she been particularly stunned by the fact that she hadn’t so much as done a single rep on that weight bench she was squashing.

“She said she wanted to start coming to the gym once a week.” Cheyenne smiled, though it appeared somewhat pained, “I said that I thought it sounded like a good idea, and… here we are.”

“Here we are.” Riley parroted the words again, “Here… we… are…”

Avery couldn’t have looked more out of place in this gym if she’d tried. Her form was awful, her breathing was loud and obnoxious, and she had just sort of floated for the entire two hours that she’d been in attendance. It was obvious that she was Cheyenne’s guest from the get-go, so no one really expected her to do more than get her feet wet. But as far as a trained physician was concerned, she hadn’t really even done that. Any of the sweating she’d done was just due to her being out of shape. She hadn’t really exercised for much longer than it had taken her to grow immediately disinterested with the exertion that she’d put out…

In short, Riley felt justified in labelling Avery as her client’s X-Factor.

“We’re, um… we’re gonna go out and get coffee after I’m finished up.”

“An iced coffee?”

“Yeah, iced coffees.”

“Just making sure.” Riley had paused a little too long for it to be comfortable, her brown eyes darting to the floor as she avoided Cheyenne’s, “You know, sometimes—”

“Hey Cheyenne!”

Avery had waddled over tummy first and fat arm wobbling as she signaled to her friend from across the gym. Her tank top was fresh from Target without so much as a sweat stain on it, though discolored around the underboob. Her great gut sloshed from side to side as her chunky thighs fought for space in similarly fresh from the rack lycra pants. Avery’s round face bunched into dimples as she greeted her more active friend with a happy grin, evidently eager to get out of this place.

“You have a good workout?” she asked, hands on her hips

“Sure did!” Cheyenne had answered confidently, “Sorry we made you wait for so long.”

“No no, don’t apologize.” Riley stepped in, “You put in a lot of good work today.”

Then, eyeballing Avery up and down, she decided to take it a step further.

“Good job today, Cheye.”

“Oh my god that’s so weird, I call her Cheye.” Avery took a step forward, “You know, like, since we were in high school.”

“And you aaaaree…?”

Avery—it’s so nice to finally meet you. Cheye talks about you all the time!

“She talks about you too.” Riley smiled venomously, “Avery.”

Perhaps sensing the tension slowly building between the two of the main “people” in her life, Cheyenne wisely stepped in and played mediator. How Brooke of her, she idly thought, as she put on her best smile and physically parted the two of them.

“Thanks again for today, Riley—I’ll see you next week?”

“Next week, Cheye.”

Cheyenne was practically pushing Avery out the door of her gym.

“Hey Cheye?” Riley extended an arm, “Make smart choices today, okay?”

And Cheyenne actually paused. She had completely understood the subtext of their conversation without having to ask so much of a follow-up question. The little nod in Riley’s neck, and the width of her eyes, all aligned with Cheyenne’s present company could have only meant that she was wary of Avery’s interference in all of the good work that they’d done together.

“You got it Riley.” Cheyenne finger-gunned, “Smart choices.”
 
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“Oh God, you didn’t tell me that she was such a bitch!”

Avery and Cheyenne hadn’t been in the Barnes & Noble Starbucks for longer than five minutes before the topic of the latter’s personal trainer had come up in conversation.

“Hey, come on now…” Cheyenne had said with a slurp of her macchiato, “Riley’s really nice when you get to know her.”

“Yeah, okay. I definitely believe that, while she was peeing all over you like a fire hydrant.” Avery scrunched her face before taking a big swig of her latte, “All I’m saying is that she looked at me like I was the anti-Christ.”

“No, come on.” Cheyenne laughed, “Stop. You two just… aren’t wired the same way.”

“Yeah, I like to have fun.” Avery rolled her bright baby blues while she scanned her Facebook feed, “Like, okay, I’m glad you like her, but at the same time… blegh.”

Cheyenne couldn’t help but laugh. She understood what Avery was talking about—she’d felt it herself when she was just starting out as Riley’s client. She could be a little intense… maybe a little judgmental. But maybe that meant that this was just the first step for Avery on her weight loss journey? It certainly wouldn’t have killed her to lose a few pounds, and the fact that she had felt so similarly about Riley when they were just starting out, well…

Let’s just say that Cheyenne was looking forward to having Avery as a gym buddy.

“Yeah, I know how you feel.” She said with a simple, solemn smile, “You feel like you’ve earned that coffee today?”

“Totally.” Avery snorted through her nose, “I haven’t sweat that much in years. Like, probably since prom. Do you remember when Cory asked me out and I so desperately wanted to hit that?”

“Fuck, you had low standards.”

“Says the girl who went out with Caleb Garret.” The bodacious blonde said through her nose before taking another hearty slurp and snatch from her rather decadent post-workout meal, “You think I don’t remember things, but I do.”

“Whatever, okay?”

The two of them laughed, almost like they used to laugh before all of this had come between them. They way that they used to talk to one another… Cheyenne had missed it. Sure she could hang out with Brooke any time she wanted to feel nostalgic, but it was nice knowing that she and Avery were on the same page for once.

Knowing that they were making progress towards repairing their friendship, well… it made Cheyenne happy in a way that even bringing up their sub-par dating lives couldn’t bring her down.

“Oh fuck, you know what I could really use right about now?” Avery asked suddenly, sharply diverting from her phone, “A trip to Cook Out. You wanna go?”

Make smart choices today, okay?

“…sure, what the hell.” Cheyenne had said with a smile, “I’ll just have my cheat day early this week.”
 
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V

In the uphill battle that is weight loss, just about everyone suffers a little downhill slide now and again—Cheyenne Harlowe was no exception.

In just fifteen months she had seen an astonishing drop in her weight. Losing more than two hundred pounds thanks to the support of her trainer, and no thanks to her roommates, Cheyenne had shrunken down to an manageable level of thickness in her figure.

She was never going to be slim. Her quarter-black ancestry meant that she had a fine set of T&A that had been the envy of her friends as early as Middle School. She was corn-fed, and there wasn’t much that she was ever going to be able to do about the extra skin that had plagued her even as she’d managed to slim down. She was still a head-turner, despite (and perhaps because) of her extra weight.

But the needle had been moving in the wrong direction for just a little too long, and it had spread just a little too wide for her tastes.

It wasn’t much. Fifteen pounds at the most, give or take whether or not she weighed on a full stomach. But it was becoming obvious, even to Cheyenne herself, that she had hit a serious amount of resistance in her weight loss goals.

“Yeah, I have no idea.” Cheyenne had told Riley sheepishly, one day at a monthly weigh-in, “I’m… you know, I’m sticking to the plan and I’m making every meeting with you. I guess I’m just starting to plateau as far as my weight loss goes.”

Which wasn’t all bad! Cheye had managed an incredible amount of loss in a comparatively short amount of time. It was only natural that there was going to be some pushback from her body eventually. Now Riley knew just where the “natural” weight of her body was bound to fall. She had said so herself! And it had come after another successful workout, so she didn’t have any reason to believe that she’d been cheating on her diet.

Which, as far as Cheyenne was concerned, she wasn’t really doing.

“Come on, it’s your cheat day!”

Avery had gone ahead and ordered for their post-workout trip. The Cook Out was in the same parking complex as the Planet Fitness, which meant that all Avery had to do was walk over as soon as she’d felt like she’d put in enough exercise on the elliptical and she could go wait for Cheyenne to finish up with Riley. More often than not, that’s how they did it, with Cook Out becoming their regular after-gym hangout place.

Cheyenne would have complained, if it hadn’t been the one thing that kept Avery coming. Getting a milkshake after she worked out every time, without fail, wasn’t the best way to actively lose weight. But Avery had made it clear from the get-go that she had been there to support Cheyenne first, and not lose any weight.

The fact that she was trying meant so much to Cheye that she hadn’t the heart to suggest another place to meet up after working up a sweat.

Even if it was a significant dent in her workout routine.

But at the end of the day, Cheyenne had started walking away feeling like she deserved a Peanut Butter milkshake.

“Here, let me pay.” Avery said as she reached for her wallet, “I feel bad about… you know, everything.”

“You really don’t have to feel bad about it.” Cheyenne said with a shrug, “It’s okay Avery, really, you don’t have to pay every time that we get milkshakes.”

“Okay, well, then it’s a reward!” Avery smiled, “Consider it an “I’m proud of you for working out so hard” milkshake!”

Cheyenne couldn’t help but laugh.

“Okay, I’ll let you pay as long as you’re rewarding me for cheating on my diet.”

“Any time, Cheye.” Avery winked, “We won’t tell Riley.”

For the past few weeks, it had really felt like a step in the right direction as far as her friendship with Avery was concerned. There hadn’t been any big fights, she and Avery were talking again, and the whole vibe of the apartment had been that same kind of comfortable feeling that it had been back when… well, back when Cheyenne and Avery didn’t fight all the fucking time.

At the same time, she knew that she wasn’t working as hard as she ought to have when it came to turning down extra snacks. That was, unfortunately, the price that she seemed to keep paying when it came to hanging out with her two oldest friends. Avery and Brooke were big girls through and through, and she wasn’t about to ask them to make compromises in their day to day lives. Not when things were finally starting to get back to normal.

And, if it meant getting to enjoy a spoon-thick milkshake once in a while, Cheyenne wasn’t about to rat herself out for having a good time.

“Oof!”

Cheyenne had collapsed into the bench seating, her glutes sore and her thighs still burning from the workout that she’d endured. Somehow, she’d started feeling it more in the past few weeks. But then, the Autumn months had been hard for her last year too.

“You starting to feel it, Cheye?”

“A little.” She smiled, “How about you Avery? You seeing any progress?”

“Hardly.” The fat blonde scoffed as she picked at her milkshake—still steaming cold, “But there’s, like, an uphill curb to this thing or whatever. I’m sure I’ll start slimming down soon.”

Not if you keep eating all these milkshakes…

Cheyenne couldn’t help but make these little comments to herself. Constantly watching what she, herself, ate was one of the biggest steps that she’d taken towards making sure that she could form healthy habits. Extending that towards Avery, and to a lesser extent Brooke, wasn’t exactly the best way to make sure that everything stayed hunky-dory between the three of them though…

She swallowed a mouthful of milkshake and went with platitude.

“Yeah, you’re doing great!” Cheyenne grinned, “You’ll start losing weight in no time—that’s how it was with me.”

“Yeah, I remember.” Avery chuckled, “You know, it doesn’t seem like too long ago that you were bigger than me.”

There was an uncomfortable amount of silence as the mood seemed to drop into dire straights. Avery palmed her stomach as it bulged out from underneath her skin-tight tank top, a tight frown on her face. Her soft pink lip bulged in a playful, but judgmental sort of way.
 
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“I feel like such a cow standing next to you, you know?”

“Oh Avery, don’t say that.”

“It’s true though! You’ve lost a shit ton of weight since we graduated.” Avery’s pout grew more exaggerated as she jiggled her jelly belly as it poured into her wide open lap, “If anything, I think I’ve found it.”

“Honey no, you’re beautiful.” Cheyenne fell into form rather quickly, “You look great. I can already tell a difference since you’ve been coming to work out with me.”

“You think so?”

“I really do, and I can tell you why.” Cheyenne took a happy spoonful of her milkshake, “You’re losing visceral fat first—that’s the really jiggly stuff. But the subcutaneous fat is gonna take some time to work off.”

“Here I thought I was just one big bloop of fat.”

“Well… you know, the milkshakes don’t exactly help.”

And for the first time in what had been far too long, that little innocuous comment hadn’t led into a big knock-down, drag-out fight between the two of them. Avery laughed, Cheyenne laughed, and nobody’s feelings were hurt! The big-bellied blonde across the booth slurped some of her milkshake, chuckled merrily, and that was the end of it. Cheyenne couldn’t believe that they’d come so far in such a (comparatively) short amount of time!

If being “workout buddies” with Avery would have fixed their problems this fast, she would have been more serious about asking Avery if she wanted to go to the gym with her all those months ago!

“Speaking of being fat, you wanna go ahead and order something else?” Avery asked with a passing glance at her phone, “Brookey’s gonna be working late, so she’ll probably just grab something on her way home.”

“Oh fuck, Avery I don’t know…” Cheyenne bit her bottom lip, “I better not.”

“Oh come on!” Avery whined in that comically overexaggerated way that she always did, “It’s your cheat day and everything!”

“I know, but that doesn’t mean that I need to eat junk for dinner.”

Doesn’t it though?” Avery asked with a shrug of her meaty shoulders, “I’m pretty sure that you’ve earned it. Come on Cheye, I’m starved!”

As much as she was loathed to admit it, Cheyenne was feeling a little hungry herself. But… not for anything on the menu at Cook Out. As much as she liked the milkshakes here, she still hadn’t been given much of a reason to order off of the menu for anything but the price. The Quesadillas were crap and the portions were way too small…

And Avery was right—it was a cheat day. Riley couldn’t get mad at her for following her carefully laid schedule.

“Okay, but…” Cheyenne bit her bottom lip contemplatively, “what do you think I should get?”

“I don’t know—it doesn’t have to be from here.” Avery shrugged, nonplussed, “It’s our cheat day, right?”

“I mean… I guess so…”

In that instance, and perhaps a little bit before, Cheyenne had known exactly what it was she wanted to blow her cheat day on. That double Quarter Pounder with Cheese that she’d been thinking about almost nonstop for the past three months now. She still hadn’t worked up the nerve to do anything about her impotent cravings for greasy burger meat, mostly because it was way out of her calorie budget for the week. Month.

“You wanna go get something from McDonalds?” Avery asked with a wry pique of her eyebrow, “It’s on the way home, and I’m driving, right?”

“You are driving…”

Cheyenne was already squirming in her seat. She had been craving this for so long, and it just now seemed like it was able to become a reality. And it wouldn’t have really been her fault, considering that Avery was the one driving and she had been the one limiting the menu. Like, okay, sure she was supposed to be making Smart Choices, but what was one burger between friends?

A burger that she’d definitely earned.

It had been so long since she’d indulged in a big, fat, greasy hamburger the way that she’d wanted to. And Avery had been such a good friend to her, why would she have ever thought about saying no at a time like this?

“I think I could swing for some Mickey Dee’s.” Cheyenne smiled a little too eagerly, “You paying this time?”

“Fuck no, I paid for Cook Out.” Avery snorted, “You gotta buy your own burger.”

“Okay, deal.” Cheyenne was practically licking her chops, “But, uh… standard Cheat Day Rules apply, right?”

“I won’t tell Riley shit.” Avery winked as she took a satisfactory slurp of her milkshake, “Our cheat days are between you and me. After all, what’s a Gym Buddy for if not to keep secrets?”

“Amen to that.”

Avery and Cheyenne clinked Styrofoam cups together in a sense of solidarity. Cheyenne, feeling empowered by her companion, scooped heartily from the mushy mass that was her milkshake. While Avery smiled warmly into hers, pacing herself pleasantly with a reserved sense of accomplishment.

“You want to make this a regular thing?” she asked, “You know, going out and getting milkshakes and burgers.”

“Oh fuck, Avery, I better not…” Cheyenne winced, “Riley would fucking kill me.”

“Well, I mean, you wouldn’t have to tell Riley. And it wouldn’t have to be milkshakes and burgers, per se…” Avery audibly back pedaled in the face of Cheyenne’s resistance, “Just like, you know, getting coffee or something after we go to the gym. With me. Your best gal pal.”

Cheyenne’s apprehension was palpable.

“I… don’t see why that would be a problem.”
 
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VI

The best part about having a personal trainer was that, even if you were ultimately responsible for your own weight loss, they were there to help keep you motivated and point you in the right direction.

When Riley had met Cheyenne, she had been two hundred and ninety-five pounds of pure blubber. She had absolutely no idea what exercises she should be doing to lose weight, she was still eating almost nothing but junk food, and she had almost no confidence in herself. Over the course of a grueling fifteen months, she had helped chisel the best out of her client from that dumpy wide-bottomed marble with intensive exercise, a positive atmosphere, and (perhaps most importantly) a dedicated food journal.

When she had taken Cheyenne on as a client, Riley had made her promise that she would always log everything that she ate—even the stuff that she knew would look bad. Honesty was at the core of the relationship between a trainer and her trainee. A little disappointment here and there was a lot better if it knew that Cheyenne was being honest with not only her trainer, but also herself.

And looking at her, Riley knew that Cheyenne hadn’t been telling her the truth.

“You’re sure that this is all you ate last week?”

“Yeah.” Cheyenne’s eyes trailed to the left, “Pretty sure.”

Right away, Riley had known that was a lie. Cheye had been looking puffy for the past few weeks, but it was only until recently that her belly started to fold into little rolls again. Just above the high waist of her leggings, there was a pinchable inch of chub just hanging over the lip of her bottoms, visible through her tight tank top. Not to mention the curve of her belly, which had started to pooch outwards and press tight against her gym clothes.

“You’ve got to be a little more than pretty sure with this thing, Cheye.” Riley put her hands on her hips, “Promise me that you’re going to be more careful about what you log in this book, okay?”

“Yeah, okay.”

Her face was rounder, especially noticeable when her long dark hair was pulled back into ponytail like now. Cheyenne’s soft olive colored skin shone in the fluorescent lighting of the gym. She was coated with sweat.

“It’s really important that I know if we have to work a little harder. Things happen, and it’s not anyone’s fault, but we’ve got to stay on track.”

“I know…”

It wasn’t anything that they couldn’t reverse, and Cheyenne’s weight loss journey hadn’t been without a few bumps and relapses in the road. As much as Riley liked to give Cheyenne the freedom to police herself, twenty pounds in just a few weeks was cause enough for her to place her hands back on the wheel… however gently.

She didn’t want to scare Cheye off. Ultimately, that wouldn’t help anybody—she might balloon back up, and Riley would be short one of her most promising clients.

“I won’t get mad if you slip up now and again.” Riley did her best to soften her expression, “Okay?”

“…okay.”

***

Avery’s takeaway from the story hadn’t been exactly what Cheyenne had intended.

“What a bitch.” Avery scoffed, “Does she want to know every time you get your period too?”

Cheyenne’s explanation as to what had taken so long to get out of Planet Fitness had started in the parking lot and lasted throughout the drive over to Frogurt Mountain. Originally, she was going to use it as a reason as to why they shouldn’t have gone to Frogurt Mountain, but by the time that she had finished the story, Avery had already unbuckled and rocked herself out of the driver’s seat.

They were already there, she seemed really angry about what Riley had said, and…

Honestly, Cheyenne was feeling pretty low about how today’s session had gone. She’d put on twenty pounds in a few weeks and as stupid as it sounded with all that considered, she really needed some comfort food.

At least it wasn’t ice cream, right?

“No, Riley’s not being a bitch.” Cheyenne’s lips tugged to the side as she stirred the remains of her medium bowl around morosely, “She’s just doing her job. It’s literally what I pay her for.”

“Still.” Avery suckled on her spoon, still going strong on her large bowl with extra toppings, “Doesn’t mean that she has to judge you so harshly. Like, okay, we get it you’re perfect—the rest of us like to go out to eat sometimes! Right?”

Cheyenne couldn’t help but chuckle. As much as Riley talked about having cravings, it was hard to picture her going to town on a bowl of Fro-Yo. The idea of her squeezing into her jeans before work? Couldn’t happen. Riley was perfect and fit and had probably never even heard the phrase “comfort food”.

“Guess that’s just one of the ways that I’m different from personal trainers, huh?”

“Yeah, and that you’ve got an ass.” Avery flipped the self-deprecative tone right on its head, “I mean, come on… have you seen… what’s her name, Riley?”

“Riley, yeah.”

“She’s as flat as a cutting board.” Avery waved dismissively, “You actually have an ass. Excuse you for needing to eat sometimes.”

“Ugh, I’ve got too much ass.” Cheyenne took another mournful bite, “Do you think we can get, like, smoothies or something next Friday?”

“Yeah, sure, smoothies.” Avery nodded as the sound of her spoon scraping against the bottom of the bowl caught her attention, “Looks like I’m out… you want another bowl?”

Cheyenne looked up from her soupy serving like a deer caught in headlights.

“You kinda look like you’re having a shitty time there.” Avery clicked her tongue as she collected the paper bowl and plastic spoon from her side of the table, “And you know… it’s Fro-Yo. That’s like diet ice cream, right?”

Cheyenne’s chest rose with a deep sigh, inching up ever so slightly on the black-painted canvas of her rounding middle…

“What the hell.” She finally said, “You don’t think I’ll have to list every topping that I put on it, do you?”

“Cheyenne, come on…” Avery snorted, “It’s a cheat day.”
 
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***​

With Cheyenne and Avery now slowly repairing their fractured friendship, things were much more peaceful around the apartment.

There had been much discussion as to how they should spend their time together in hopes of making sure that another rift between them didn’t crop up where a bridge was slowly being built. Brooke had been the one to suggest a regular night for the three of them to get together—at least once a week, where their schedules permitted.

But since she was the only one with a regular schedule, there were plenty of nights where “Roommate Wednesday” turned out to be just her and either of them. Very rarely were all three of them actually on the couch together.

While Avery was usually the one to suggest a back-up day in addition to their allocated hangout time (usually Sunda afternoon, so Cheyenne could get in a good rest before going back to the gym on Monday) it was, in fact, going to be one of the rare occasions where all three of them were going to squeeze onto the couch and watch a schlocky eighties horror marathon; a favorite past time of theirs, complete with a hearty menu of pizza to match the ones they’d order in high school.

“You sure Cheye won’t mind us ordering pizza?”

“We got her a plain cheese one.” Avery lifted a greasy triangle from the box and reeled it in floppy-end first, “And it’s not stuffed crust.”

“Smart.” Brooke smiled as she reached for a breadstick, “That way it’s not too many extra calories.”

Avery tugged at her pajama bottoms as she waddled over to the couch before plopping down; her designated pizza box steady while the rest of her body wobbled with the impact. Multiple 2-Liters of various sodas had been stationed within an arm’s reach on either side of the couch and the open boxes (plus Cheyenne’s plain cheese) had been placed on the coffee table in front of them.

If you could have placed the scene in Mr. Mason’s living room and played the sounds of Brooke’s sister getting laid in the background, it would have been a picture-perfect recreation of how the three of them had spent almost every Saturday night growing up.

Growing up, nights like these had been invitations to do whatever they pleased. To stay up as late as they wanted, to be comfy for as long as they liked, and to eat as much as they desired. When they were in high school, they had been almost weekly events! The three of them would giggle and talk shit about girls that they didn’t like or boys that they did well into the wee hours of the morning, and they almost never left any leftovers for a cold pizza breakfast…

Never mind that it was perhaps because of these nights in that the three of them had graduated at so much heavier than they had been when they’d enrolled.

“So today’s gonna be her cheat day?”

Brooke asked the question helpfully from the other side of the long L-shaped couch, her stomach folds buried beneath the baggiest t-shirt in her closet. Her brown curly hair was left down and she’d taken out her contacts.

“Oh… yeah.” Avery shrugged her shoulders as she gnashed her lips, “She like… got permission from her trainer or whatever.”

“Well that was nice.” Brooke smiled, “And you know who else is nice? You. For going to all this trouble to make sure we all get to hang out together.”

“Oh stop.”

“No Avery, seriously, I’m really impressed.” Brooke took a swig of Sprite, leaving it on the end table for steady use and ease of access, “This is a really nice thing that you’re doing for Cheyenne. You’ve been spending a lot of time with her lately, and I think… I mean, I think it’s really cool that you guys are getting so close again.”

“Yeah, well, she is one of my best friends.” Avery folded her slice down the middle and dipped it in a cup of ranch, “I just want things to get back to normal with us. All of us.”

“Well… this feels pretty normal to me.” Brooke smiled warmly, “Hey! Do you think I could start coming to the gym with you guys? You know, make it a new tradition between the three of us?”

Avery sucked through her teeth.

“I don’t know, Brooke…” she winced, “Cheye only gets one guest pass. And that’s like… sixteen dollars a month for a membership.”

“Oh…” Brooke sank slightly, her double chin creasing into another little frown, “…Well, maybe I could ask—”

“She only gets one a week.” Avery’s wince grew more exaggerated, “Sorry, hun.”

“Aw… well… that’s okay.” Brooke bounced back relatively quickly, “At least we all get to hang out!”

“I couldn’t agree more.” Avery raised her glass of Dr. Pepper to clink against Brooke’s Sprite, “And besides, you don’t want to put up with Riley. She’s a total bitch.”

“Really?” Brooke made a face, “Cheyenne always says that she’s super nice!”

“Yeah, she’s nice to Cheye because she pays her.” Avery scoffed, “Nothing but a total bitch the rest of the time though.”

“Oh no! I’m sorry she’s so mean to you.”

“Well… it’s alright.” Avery took another folded bite of ranch-drenched pizza, “I try not to let it bother me too much because… you know, she and Cheyenne are pretty close.”

“Right.” Brooke burped, “You’re such a good friend, Avery.”

“I really, truly am.”
 
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VII


Before Cheyenne had known what hit her, the needle on the scale was back at settling on just over two hundred pounds.

It wasn’t that she was surprised. Cheyenne had known that she was eating like shit again, and she had cancelled a few lessons with Riley here or there before this moment. Her clothes were getting tighter and she was having to wear leggings more often. She wasn’t stupid—she could see all of the telltale signs of her getting fat again.

Gaining control over her bad habits had been one of the hardest things that she’d ever done in her life. And it was disheartening to see that her struggle had, while not exactly all for naught, was so easily reversed by merely enjoying her life with her friends.

The woman staring back at Cheyenne in the mirror was one that she unfortunately recognized—give or take a few years, she looked almost exactly like she had back in Junior Year. Just take away the braces and bless her with some bigger tits, maybe an inch or two in height and it would have been a picture-perfect comparison.

The love handles, she could deal with. Her belly swelling out and getting its little droop down towards her crotch wasn’t great, but it was a lot better than having top and bottom parts to her tummy. Her double chin didn’t come out too often unless she yawned or opened her mouth too wide. Her arms were rather jiggly, but not too gross. Even her fat ass and chunky cottage cheese thighs, she could live with…for the most part.

There had been a time when she would have loved to have been this size again.

But whittling herself to two hundred pounds down from three hundred pounds was a major accomplishment. It was something that she had worked tirelessly for, and for over a year. She had denied herself even a sniff at fast food for fifteen months. She’d hired a trainer and had spent countless hours in the gym getting healthy and fit. While getting “just under two hundred pounds” had been her goal when she’d started out all those months ago, Cheyenne had gone so far as to zoom past it! Getting down to one sixty had been an enormous boon to her self-esteem!

Creeping back up to two hundred and three from there had made the love handles, the tummy, the arms, and her big fat backside a lot harder to swallow.

Not that swallowing is all that hard for you is it, Double Stuff?

Cheyenne blinked back tears as she stepped off of the scale, feeling a firm hand on her shoulder as she deliberately avoided the full-length mirrors hung in the women’s lockers.

“Cheye… Cheye!” Riley repeated more firmly as she caught hold of her slippery client, “We can fix this. Come on, don’t get discouraged!”

Cheyenne’s façade of stoicism had cracked even before Riley whipped her around. Two little hot streams of tears rolled down her chubby cheeks as her lower lip quivered. Her big brown eyes were watery, her vision clouded, and her chest heaving erratically as she fought against breaking out into tears right there in the women’s locker room.

“Hey hey, come here come here.”

Riley had always been firm but affectionate with Cheyenne. With most of her clients, reportedly, but especially Cheyenne.

It was something that she had always appreciated about her trainer, and one of the reasons that she had kept coming back to her. In the first few months of her weight loss journey, when it had been especially hard, Riley had held her once or twice like this before. To the then nearly three-hundred-pound Cheyenne, seeing five-pound gains as signs of defeat and a reason to surrender, Riley had been the one to keep her from walking back on all of the progress that she’d made in the meantime.

And she was a great hugger.

“It’s gonna be okay, Cheye.” She said softly, wrapping her arms around her client’s soft back, “Shhh…”

Silently waving curious patrons of the gym away, Riley steered her client towards the big wooden bench that sat in the middle of the lockers. Holding her tight by the shoulder now, one arm wrapped behind her back, she placed a strong hand gently over Cheyenne’s.

“This is no reason to give up on your weight loss goals, okay?” Riley’s tone changed to something a little stronger for Cheyenne to lean on, “It’s just a little backslide—”

“IT IS NOT A LITTLE BACKSLIDE!”

Cheyenne had said that a little more loudly than she’d intended to. In her frustration with herself, to anyone else, it might have looked like she was yelling at Riley. But her heaving chest and tomato-red face told a different story as she broke down. Her elbows on her plush knees and her face buried in her hands.

“It’s… it’s forty pounds!” she consciously corrected herself, wary of the stares that they were now attracting, “I’m back up to two hundred!”

“But you’re still down a hundred pounds from where you started!” Riley said with the confidence and support of an older sibling, “You’ve still come so far since you first walked in here.”

“B-But…” Cheyenne sniffled, “I-I…”

“Shhhh…”

The two women sat on the bench for a while, with Riley rocking her client a little in a gentle, swaying motion. As Cheyenne’s sobbing eventually calmed into more manageable crying and sniffling, the two of them stopped swaying. Riley eventually placed a hand on Cheyenne’s chunky thigh and brought her back out of herself.

“Hey, I tell you what—it sounds like we are both having mutually shitty days.” Riley squeezed, “What do you say we get in our cheat days a little early? Huh? You and me—my treat?”
 
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***​

For as long as she’d known Riley, Cheyenne could have never imagined that she’d ever see her in a Cook Out parking lot. Or eating a milkshake. Or knowing that she had a “go-to” order. A chicken quesadilla tray with hush puppies and fries—plus a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup milkshake that she used to dip the fries in.

Riley’s car was just barely almost clean, even discounting the debris from their order and the gym bag haphazardly thrown in the backseat. The seats were leaned back, she had an Aux cord instead of a Bluetooth connecting radio…

Somehow, it was so comforting to see this side of Riley—to know that not only was she a trainer, but that she was… human? Was that the right word to use here? Obviously she was human, but Cheyenne had put her up on this pedestal over the course of getting to know her as her trainer and…

Well, this was nice.

“I found out my girlfriend was cheating on me yesterday.” Riley said with a mouthful of spoon-thick milkshake, “With her old boyfriend none the less.”

“Oh no…” Cheyenne sniffled, having already devoured her share of hush puppies from her tray, “That’s awful.”

“No, what was awful was having to cancel all my clients this morning so that I could help her get her shit out of our apartment.” Riley picked up three fries and scraped them across the surface of the shake, “I mean, we dated for a year and she cheated on me. How do I know she won’t steal my stuff, right? I had to be there.”

“Understandable.”

“Glad you think so—I really needed this.” Riley said with a thick sigh as she scarfed down her shake-dipped fries, “And, you know, while I don’t normally advocate for eating your feelings. Sometimes it helps us deal with stuff.”

Cheyenne glanced guiltily over her already almost empty share of the Cook Out haul. She’d hoovered down her hush puppies and practically choked on her barbecue sandwich. The only thing that was left were fries, and only a few at that. Meanwhile Riley was just barely half-way done!

“…yeah.” She sighed, “I know the feeling.”

“I don’t… you know, want to pry or anything.” Riley took a fryless spoonful of milkshake and popped it into her mouth, “But is there something bothering you? You’ve been pretty down almost every time that I saw you.”

“I don’t like going to the gym, Riley.” Cheyenne ventured a smile, “You were the one who said that there were two kinds of people.”

“Yeah, okay, that’s just one of the ways that we’re different I guess.” Riley chuckled, “But it’s not… you’re not just not looking forward to exercising you’re like… you’ve just been kind of distant lately is all.”

Cheyenne gulped.

“You don’t have to tell me or anything. I just wanted to let you know that I’m here for you if you want to talk.” Riley placed a hand on Cheyenne’s shoulder as it bulged out from under her bra strap, “We don’t just have to be trainer and trainee you know. We can be friends.”

And here, Cheyenne smiled.

“Until I catch you lying in your food journal again.” Riley laughed, pointing to her milkshake, “You think I don’t know what a “blended dairy beverage with chocolate and peanut extract is”?”

They both shared a laugh at that. It was so strange to hear Riley talk about cheating on her own diet. For so long, Cheyenne had looked at her as a pillar of resoluteness and strength when it came to diet and exercise. Seeing her be… well, she’d call it normal was so surreal.

“So.” Riley cocked an eyebrow, “You wanna talk about why you’re skipping sessions and fudging your food journal?”

“My friends…”

“Avery and Brooke?” Riley’s expression hardened, “I thought you guys were getting along great?”

“W-We are!” Cheyenne corrected, “It’s just… I’ve been hanging out with them a lot and they’re not really… I mean it’s my fault but… I…”

“Look, I’ve seen Avery. I’ve met Avery.” Riley stirred her milkshake with her spoon before looking back up, “I know I’ve always told you that you should take responsibility for your own actions, but it’s okay to call someone a bad influence.”

Cheyenne shrunk in her seat, her little double chin rolling out. In the past few months, she and Avery had come so far in patching up their relationship. Not too long ago, she wouldn’t have hesitated to agree with Riley, but not too long ago she and Avery were fighting almost every day. With how far they had come in becoming each other’s best friend again, it had suddenly started feeling like talking badly about her back would paint her as a bad friend. And then they’d start fighting again, before she knew it…

“It’s okay—there are gonna be people who don’t want to work out, want to eat like crap, and they’re gonna pose a problem for those of us who want to get in shape.” Riley took a bite of quesadilla, “For you, it’s Avery (and maybe Brooke, I haven’t met her) but for me, it’s my best friend Astrid. We’ve all got our own personal road blocks on our weight loss path.”

Cheyenne straightened back up slightly.

“It doesn’t mean that they’re bad friends, it doesn’t mean that you’re bad for realizing any of that, and it’s good that you don’t want to push responsibility off onto them.” Here, Riley’s tone shifted back into her Trainer’s intonation, “But you’ve got to be realistic and see what’s in front of you… okay?”

“…okay.”

“Good.” Riley smiled warmly, clinking their Styrofoam cups together, “Now on Friday, I’m gonna make you go an extra three minutes on the treadmill and an extra two on the elliptical.”

“Whaaaat?” Cheyenne whined in (part) playful distress, “Riley Noooo!”

You scarfed down your Cook Out Tray and stole my fries out of my bag. That’s right, I saw you.” Riley folded her arms, “The scarfing down I could forgive, but you sealed your doom when you snuck from my bag. I don’t play with that shit, Cheye.”
 
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VIII

“You never told me that Riley was gay.”

That seemed to be the main sticking point that Avery had retained from Cheyenne’s telling of the tale of Riley in the Cook Out parking lot. Not the fact that Cheyenne had been having a bad day, not the fact that she was back up to two hundred pounds, and not the fact that she had been bawling in the women’s locker room.

Cheyenne had initially told Avery about her cheat day with Riley as a way to get her to back off on all the mean stuff she said about her, and a way to maybe get back some of her groundwork in a way that wouldn’t sacrifice their friendship again. She had meant to frame it as a reason why she was going to have to cut back on eating junk. Why she would have appreciated it if, instead of ordering her a pizza, Avery and Brooke could just skip ordering her anything at all on Wednesday nights. A way of reintroducing the idea of her going back to having her own shelf in the fridge.

But somehow the bombshell topic of the day, in Avery’s mind, was the fact that Cheyenne’s trainer was a lesbian.

"Well now we know why she wanted to get your ass in shape, since she stands behind you on the machines during your sessions."

“Goddammit, Avery.”

“She’s probably enjoying the show.”

“I swear to God you’re an actual fucking child.”

Despite Cheyenne’s insistence that they go somewhere healthier, Avery had still settled on the Barnes & Noble Starbucks. Cheyenne had been fine with it, since it meant that she could try to get herself back down to a tall iced coffee without any flavors in it. Sucking tersely on her Venti Caramel Macchiato, Cheyenne’s brow furrowed in consternation of Avery’s insensitivity towards both the topic of Riley’s sexuality and her weight problem.

“What? I mean, it might be true you know.” Avery paused to slurp down about a half of an inch of her Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino, “You might be her type.”

“I don’t think I’m Riley’s type.” Cheyenne said with some exasperation to her voice, “I saw pictures of her girlfriend. Tall, redhead, skinny.”

Ex-girlfriend.” Avery pointed out, “And you never know!”

“Avery, Riley isn’t my type.” The chubby brunette said flatly, “So I don’t think it matters if she likes me, because she’s got a little too much estrogen for my tastes and is missing some pretty important equipment down there.”

“Yeah, and you’d know with how tight those leggings are.” Avery scrunched her fat face in annoyance, “But she doesn’t know that. Maybe she was trying to ask you to be… more than friends?

Cheyenne turned a bright crimson as she sucked down her coffee. That was, admittedly, something that she hadn’t considered when Riley had asked her to join them at their next cheat day. When the aforementioned woman walked over from the coffee bar holding a medium iced latte with toffee nut syrup, Avery had been the one to quickly killed the conversation with a particularly loud and unsubtle shushing sound. One that had Riley looking at the two of them cock-eyed before she even sat back down.
 
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Mar 1, 2021
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Location
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***​

When Riley had proposed that she start to accompany Cheyenne and Avery on their post-workout trips to various places nearby, it had been entirely out of the best interest of her client.

Cheyenne had confided unto her that she felt that Avery was a bad influence on her and a deterrent to her weight loss goals. And while Riley was sympathetic to a degree of professionalism, she was also worried about her as a friend. Cheyenne was at a rocky precipice, and having someone like her around to help keep things “under control” so to speak might have made a world of difference to her.

Over the course of the three Fridays that she had gone out with Avery and Cheyenne, it had been purely with the intention of helping to make sure that the latter stuck to her diet. What Avery did, she honestly couldn’t have cared less—though she did jokingly admonish her here and there where it was appropriate to do so.

She was there for Cheyenne.

In hindsight, for Cheyenne in more ways than one.

Being at such a rocky place in her own life, with her girlfriend leaving her and her roommate bringing home her own string of girls left and right, Riley would admit to being… aware of the fact that her love life was a little more than lackluster lately. And as much as she liked to separate her personal life from her work life, there was a small selfish part of her that liked hanging out with Cheyenne.

Not as a client, but… in her weakness, a little more than as a friend.

They had known one another for almost two years now, and they were close. She knew the ins and outs of Cheyenne’s lifestyle, and (except, apparently for the fact that she was a lesbian) Cheyenne was pretty well-versed in a day in the life of Riley.

Begrudgingly, Riley would take fault for keeping that part of her life a secret. Living and working in one of the reddest states this side of the coast, she’d gotten so used to just not mentioning her sexuality that it just never came up organically between her and Cheyenne. Perhaps, if it had earlier, all of this could have been avoided.

But she had thought that there was a little chemistry between the two of them. Cheyenne never mentioned her love life around her (from what she understood, it was a little lacking) and Riley had never thought to ask…

But she had thought that there was a little chemistry there between them.

Maybe it was just the closeness of their trainer/trainee relationship, but it had been enough for Riley to get her hopes up. Coming off of such a messy breakup, she had known that she should have been more careful, but… well weirder things have happened to her than hooking up with a client.

And if that had been what had happened, she definitely would have walked out of Planet Fitness that evening in a much better mood.

“Hey, Cheye.” Riley’s voice had been tinged with an uncharacteristic wavering to it. She seemed unsure since perhaps the first time that Cheyenne had met her, “Uh… good workout today.”

“Thanks. I’m really trying to get myself back up to where I was before…” Cheyenne chuckled awkwardly, “Well, before I started cancelling on you all the time. Again, I am so sorry about that—”

“No way, it’s… you know, it’s totally cool.” Riley bit her bottom lip, “Um… thanks again for letting me pal around with you and Avery on Fridays. It’s been great, you know, getting out of the apartment.”

She shifted awkwardly on her long, elegant feet.

“My, uh… my roommate thanks you too.” She stuttered, “Since she doesn’t have to worry about me coming home and wrecking her dates.”

“I should really be thanking you.” Cheyenne laughed, her little double chin creasing and her jelly belly bouncing, “It’s been really cool having someone to keep me in line when I look at the menus pretty much everywhere.”

“Yeah, ha…”

Again, for perhaps the first time since they had known one another, there seemed to be a looming weight hanging overhead. At the time, it had seemed like a good thing. Some mutual awkward attraction that had awoken between them. A sign of something (hopefully) to come. Maybe dinner, drinks… then her place? Just something to get her mind off of Stephanie…

“Hey, um… I was thinking.” Riley stiffened up and steeled herself, “Would you, you know… like to do something Saturday?”

“That sounds like a great idea!” Cheyenne’s big brown eyes lit up, “Me, Avery and Brooke were gonna have a Star Wars marathon, and it’d be great if you could keep me from—”

“N-No, not… not like that.” Riley laughed awkwardly, “Just… you know, the two of us.”

She glanced down at her fingers, twiddling them subconsciously as she wrestled with herself over even asking such a stupid question.

“And… you know, not as trainer and trainee.”

Growing up, Riley had always (or at least, as long as it had mattered) been attracted to women. In her high school years, she had asked out two girls and dated them for like two months before they broke up with her. But in her adult years she had dated quite a few women. More importantly, she had asked out quite a few women.

And she had learned that the long, long pause that had come after her question meant that her proposal was dead as soon as it hit the water.

Cheyenne’s face turned bright red and her eyes went wide with a sea of visibly mixed emotions. Her mouth opened up ever so slightly and the whole tone of the conversation shifted in about two-point-five seconds in a direction that Riley had really, really hoped that it wouldn’t have gone.

“Oh.”

That damned oh that Riley had dreaded hearing. Every time that there was an attractive woman that she got along with that wasn’t into her, she’d get that exact same oh from every single one of them.

“I’m not…” Cheyenne shrunk away from her, “I-I don’t really swing that way, Riley.”

And all of the color had drained out of Riley’s face. Again, in hindsight, the incompatible orientation had been there from the start. But hey, her last girlfriend was bisexual. Fuck her for thinking that maybe this cute client that she’d known for years was too, right?

After all, it wasn’t like she hadn’t been given the green light.

“Rrrrrright.” Riley forced a smile, “You’re… absolutely right. I am so, so sorry for putting you on the spot like that.”

“Y-Yeah.” Cheyenne’s eyes were now locked to below waist-level, “Um… I don’t…”

“I know you don’t and I’m sorry and I…” Riley’s chest deflated as a long, painful sigh escaped her, “I really hope that this means you won’t start looking for a new trainer.”

“N-No, I… I won’t.” Cheyenne blinked dumbly, “We’re, um… we’re cool.”

“Are you sure? Because I really like you and—” fuck Riley fuck fuck fuck, “—as a client, and—”

“I really need to get going.”

“Yeah me too.”

And in about two minutes, it was as if two years of client-trainer build up had gone out the door with her. As Cheyenne’s plump rump shrunk in the double doorway that looked out into the parking lot, Riley couldn’t help but feel like she’d made an enormous mistake.

I should have fucking guessed.

Riley pursed her lips tight as she felt her heart sink to lower and lower depths in her chest. That had been embarrassing as hell, and it may have cost her a client. Another client. Not only that, it may have just costed her a friend! Cheyenne was the closest thing that she had to one of those these days outside of Astrid and her roommate, now that Stephanie was back with Trent.

Slouching against the elliptical, Riley let out another deep-chested sigh. All she could do now was hope that Cheyenne wasn’t too freaked out by her to come back and keep up her training.

A fucking predatory lesbian, that’s what you are.

Riley groaned as she whipped out her phone, debating whether or not to message Cheyenne and tell her what had happened. Would that be too weird? Would that have made it even worse? What was the correct protocol for having hit on a straight client who was shaping up to be a potential outside-of-work friend?

Put it away, put it away…

Listening to the little voice inside her head, Riley decided against messaging Cheyenne any further. Whatever was going to happen from here was entirely out of her control. If Cheyenne kept her on as a client… if Cheyenne didn’t think that she was just being nice to her because she was attracted to her… if they could still be friends…

Why the fuck did Avery tell me that I had a shot with her?
 

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