Cheers For Fears
"Back," I said as I slipped into the living room again.
"Well?" Roxie demanded bluntly. "Where'd Sabrina go?"
"She's... in there. Snoring away on the kitchen floor, with a dishtowel as a pillow. I mean... hell, I don't have nerve enough to move her."
"So, what happened?" Ophelia asked.
"Shit," I said. "Shit happened." Sighing, I sat between them on the couch, running my fingers through my hair and staring at the coffee table. "We were having a fairly normal argument-slash-apology-slash-breakthrough, when she asked me about the cut on my wrist, and then... then there was no stopping her weeping over it. It was so unreal, I- I can't believe it matters that much to her! She, uh... cried herself to sleep."
"God," Roxie whispered. "You two are deep in it, aren't you?"
My eyes rolled of their own accord. "What does that mean?! Honestly..."
"What are you gonna do now?" Ophelia twirled a few green strands of her hair absentmindedly. "'Cause my opinion might not count for jack in this situation, but it seems to me the time has come to-"
"Don't rush me. I mean, we can't all jump on top of girls we take a shine to on the subway and have that be the end of it, right?"
The explosion wasn't unexpected. "Hey! You say that like I was-"
"Sorry," I cut her off. "That was supposed to be a lame joke, but... I guess it mostly came out as harsh."
Ophelia's indignant glare relaxed. "'S'okay. You're in a state of flux, there have to be allowances."
"Meanwhile," Roxie said doggedly, "you've got a blonde on your kitchen floor who can't seem to survive without you. What's your move?"
With a deep breath, I leaned back. "Exactly the same cheesy B-movie plan I was going to deploy before she dropped by - it's all I've got. The only difference is, now I'm going to mean it ten times more than I did before, if that was even possible. With God as my witness, though, I don't think I'm ready for this."
"We'll be there to back you up," she replied confidently, and Ophelia nodded her consensus.
"You will not!" I half-shouted. "There's no way I'll be able to do anything with you watching! No, I... I appreciate it, but I can do this by myself. I have to. But I will need your help with a few details."
"Speaking of 'help'," Ophelia asked, "did you actually send Morgan after something important, or was that a ruse to remove her from the situation?"
"Yes... and yes," I giggled weakly.
Roxie frowned. "She's right, that windtunnel should have been back by now."
"Oh, she wasn't supposed to come back," I said, sitting up and grabbing for the cordless on the coffee table. "But still, she must be done by now. Let me check... what's her number?" Roxie told me - I would print it here, but I'd only have to change it to 555-something. It's some kind of literary rule. "Thanks."
RING... RING... "Hellooo?"
"Morgan, it's Libby - how's everything going?"
"Well, there were a couple doodads on your list that I couldn't dig up, but I found some generic things that should work well enough. Also, that Melchior guy seems like a - well, a thug! It's all good so far, but are you sure you trust him with whatever this project is?"
"I don't have much choice right about now, do I? Meanwhile, how about those extra-special items, are they ready?"
"Everything, up to and including the perfume! I think you'll be pleased. That Prisoner thing, though... they only had hardback, and it was pricier than I thought it would be so you're going to-"
"If this stuff cost you two million dollars I would make sure you get every red cent back," I promised. "Just make sure it's gravy."
"Okie-dokie! Now... you sure I can't know exactly what it is I'm doing this for?"
"Very. Thanks, Morgan."
With yet another sigh, I glanced at Rox and Ophie. "Golden. And you guys are going to have a very important job, and there's a couple stops we have to make, but I need to make another call before we get this show on the road."
"Are you ever going to put that thing down?!" Roxie demanded as I dialed.
"This is important." RING... RING... "Room 118, please." More ringing.
"Put Adymm on, TQ."
"Sure, hang on!" More waiting.
"Tell me I'm good enough."
I fidgeted impatiently; out of the corner of my eye, I could see an exchange of sympathetic glances. "Please, I need it. You're the only other person who can tell me that and make me believe it, and if I want to actually pull this off without-"
"You're more than worthy, Libby; always have been. Would it help if I paid a skywriter?"
My smile was probably the saddest one yet. "Still taking care of me."
"Any time you need it. Lots of luck, Libbs."
"Thanks... I'll need it."
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
The parking lot was nearly deserted as Roxie and I pulled into it, though Morgan's cherry-red piece of eye candy was there... taking up two spaces. Typical.
"Here we are," Roxie said, putting the brake on.
"Yep," I gusted, my stomach already tying itself in knots long before it needed to. "Thanks for the ride."
"Sure." A few seconds had us sitting around, looking like fools and trying to come up with words. Then, Roxie leaned over and kissed me.
Unfortunately, I mean that just like it sounds; she planted a big sloppy one right on my lips, complete with hand behind my head. She was a real manhandler! After the shock wore off, I pushed her back into the drivers' seat by her face.
"Do you MIND?!" I growled.
"Just wanted to see what all the fuss was about," she muttered, wiping her lip with a Kleenex. "Y'know... before you're spoken for."
"Shut up," I sighed, trying to regain composure. "You're erratic."
She laughed quietly. "Am I? You keep avoiding the issue, but... c'mon, we both know what this is all boiling down to. Why do you feel this need to be all Garbo about it?"
"Because." It was a copout answer, and her folding arms told me it hadn't worked. "Geez, Rox, it's not like I've done this before, and- and I'm still not used to the idea! But... but it's too important to wait for comfort. Besides, I don't want to jinx anything by voicing certain things aloud."
"You're so cute!" she said mockingly, pinching my cheek. "My poor widdle wesbian!"
"I am NOT!" I protested somewhat futilely. "And that hurt!"
"My bad. So... can I have Adymm now?"
"Well, it- excuse me?!"
Suddenly, she appeared to be uncomfortable. The fuck?! "I'm kind of serious, actually. I mean, that's bad, and extremely soon, I know. I probably don't even register on his emotional Geiger counter, since he's been focused on you so much... but every time we've spoken I get this feeling like we might be able to make a decent run at a relationship." After a moment, she hurriedly added, "Though if you wanna invoke Ex-Girlfriend's Right Of Prior Property, I'll totally understand!"
Everything reeled. "I, uhh... well... ask me again later, when I can think about anything."
"Sorry," she said earnestly. "You're right, piss-poor timing. But... hey, I hope whatever you're going to do works, because if anybody deserves a little happiness, it's Cheerless and Cheerful."
Snickering, I popped open the door, grabbing my handbag and the crucial garment box. "And who would you and Adymm be? Mindless and Mindful?"
"Sure, why not?" She grinned at me. "We'll be back with your precious cargo, and we'll make sure she's all decked out for the occasion. You gonna be ready in under an hour?"
"Of course not, but I should at least be able to get rid of Morgan in that time. Thanks, Roxie."
"Good luck, Loobyloo!"
And off she drove, leaving me to walk toward the double doors that I hoped would lead to the rest of my life - and even if it all went wrong in there, if the Powers That Be decided I wasn't meant to have this, I promised myself I would be content in the knowledge that I tried as hard as I could. It didn't do a thing to keep my stomach from continuing its performance of "The Bump" below my ribcage. Was I absolutely, unquestionably ready for one last push?
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~~*~ END Chapter Ten