What Men Really Want    

By Elizabeth Bathory

DISCLAIMER:  I own nothing but the story.  Down With Love and its characters belong to 20th Century Fox and its creators.

It had been a long morning for Peter MacMannus, publisher of KNOW magazine.  His first strike of bad luck was when his ace in the hole star reporter, Catcher Block had called in saying he was not coming in due to illness.  Most of the time when Catch called in it was because of a set of twins, triplets, or more, not because of illness.  Being his best friend, Peter was inclined to believe him because he had actually sounded ill over the phone.  His morning was just compounded when he had deadlines approaching and nothing to put in the magazine because Catch's article had not yet been received, as usual.  But perfection was worth waiting for.

Just as things started to calm down in the afternoon, a new hell had walked through Peter's door.  Barbara Novak, Catch's latest and only real love interest in his entire life, stormed into Peter's office ready to kill.

"Peter!  I demand that you to tell me where Catch is," She screeched as Peter practically fell into his chair.  "I call up here today to talk to him and I am told by his secretary that he called out today.  So where is he?!"

"He called me this morning saying he was ill and wasn't coming in," Peter exclaimed sincerely after he refound his voice.  "My guess is that he's home in bed."

"The real question is with who?!" Barbara yelled.  "Take me there now, Peter!"

Peter sighed and knew damn well that he had no way out of this.  He just hoped that Catcher was truly ill or else he didn't want to be around for the explosion of one Miss "Down With Love" Barbara Novak.

Peter hailed a cab for the pair of them and took her to Catch's bachelor pad apartment.  Barbara flew into the apartment building, with Peter running as fast as he could behind her, and into the elevator up to Catch's floor.  Barbara was a woman on a mission and nothing could stop her.

Barbara went right to Catch's door and pounded on it as Peter caught his breath.  "Open up Catch!  I know you're in there!" she cried out.

"You know he may actually be ill and asleep," Peter mentioned when he saw Barbara's increasing impatience which received him a death glare of his own.

After only a few seconds of waiting, Barbara went for the hidden key and opened Catch's door whether he was coming or not.  If he was there with another woman, she wasn't going to give him the time to do up his pants and wipe the lipstick off his face.  She flung the door open and found the apartment apparently deserted.  The rooms were darkened and everything seemed to have not been touched.  Just as Barbara and Peter stepped inside, Catch's bedroom door slowly opened and Catcher stumbled out slowly.  He hadn't even tied his robe but just slipped it on over his pajamas as he tried to get the door.  Catcher had obviously just woken up, his hair was a mess, he was unshaven, and he was yawning and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes as he sniffed a bit.

"How nice…you came to visit me?" Catch said through a yawn as he walked up to Barbara.

"Where is she Catch?" Barbara stated as she pushed right by him to examine his bedroom.

"What are you talking about?" Catch asked in a very confused tone as he looked in Peter's direction for help.

"You don't call into work for just any reason so where is she or should I say they?" Barbara asked again as she opened his bedroom door and shocked herself.  Only one side of his bed was turned down and there were several tissues strewn about on the nightstand.  When she saw this, Barbara felt terrible.  She turned around and really looked at Catcher now.  He looked horrible.  His nose was pink and his eyes were quite bleary.

"As I told Peter this morning, I wasn't feeling very well so I decided to stay home," Catcher said innocently as he blew his nose.  "It's nice to know that the woman I love doesn't trust me when I said I was sick."

"I'm sorry…I didn't mean to…I just thought…" Barbara stammered, using their past experience as her reasoning for her assumption.

"If I had called out because of a woman, you would have known about it since it would have been you," Catcher stated as he sadly walked back into his bedroom and laid back down.

Barbara felt terrible now.  Catcher really was sick and she hadn't believed him.  As she excused herself from poor Peter, who had been dragged into this, she mentally kicked herself and walked into Catcher's bedroom to apologize.

Catch was already falling back to sleep.  He had pulled his blankets up to his chin and had nearly buried himself.  Barbara walked in and sat down on the side of his bed to try to apologize but Catch was hurt and he rolled over to face the opposite direction of Barbara.

"I'll come back later to see how you're doing," Barbara told him as she kissed his cheek and then left his room.  "I messed up this time," she thought to herself as she walked with Peter out of the building.

Several hours later, Barbara was sitting in her apartment, recounting the story to Vikki and kicking herself over and over again.

"You have to go over there and make it up to him.  One thing men always want is attention when they're sick," Vikki stated.

"But he's quite upset with me.  I doubt he'll even want to see me," Barbara protested.

"Just come out with Peter and me to dinner and we'll stop by Catch's place before we go and you can make it up to him then," Vikki suggested which got Barbara to agree.

Two hours later, all three were back at Catch's apartment and this time, Barbara gently knocked.  When she got no answer, she took his key and opened the door and went back to Catch's bedroom to find him sound asleep.  She closed his door slightly and then turned to Peter and Vikki. 

"I'm not going to go with you two.  I'm staying here," Barbara stated.

"What are you going to do?" Vikki replied.

"What I should have done earlier," Barbara said with a smile as she went back to Catch's bedroom.

Once inside, she closed the door and sat next to him on his bed.  Catcher stirred slightly and awoke to her stroking his hair.  "What are you doing here?" he mumbled sleepily.

"Taking care of you like I should have before…" Barbara replied as she motioned for him to rest on her.

Catcher considered it for a second before he shifted from his pillows and laid in her lap and return to his sleep.

The next morning, Catch was rudely awoken by yet another frantic phone call from Peter, demanding to know where his story was and they were holding the copy just for him.

"You will have it by 3…I promise…" Catch replied through a series of harsh coughs that still lingered.

"If I don't have it Catch, I mean it this time…you will be fired," Peter threatened.

"You won't fire me and you will have it.  I'll drag myself out of bed now and chain myself to my beloved Underwood and you will have it," Catch said as an ending before he said good-bye and hung up.  After setting the phone back on his night table, Catch pushed himself up and looked around a bit, knowing that Barbara had been here when he fell asleep but his brain was still a bit fuzzy as to add up where she went to.

He threw his blankets aside and shrugged into his bathrobe as he padded his way out into his living room and to his typewriter, slowly plunking away at the keys until he found his rhythm once again and pounded out his story.  Not a Pulitzer but fabulous anyway.  By the time Catch had finished his story, it was well after 1 and he was exhausted.  He knew that he had to get it to Peter some how but he didn't even have the energy to make it back to his bedroom before he fell dead asleep on the couch.

Barbara had spent most of the day picking up things to make Catch feel better, a little food for his empty fridge, some medication for his cold, and chocolate for laughs.  She hadn't realized that she had taken so long and it was well after 1 by the time she got back to his apartment.  She opened his door quietly and smiled softly when she saw Catch sound asleep on the couch with the article that he had finished next to his typewriter.  He shouldn't have been out of bed and here he exhausted himself to finish his article, the least Barbara could do was bring it to Peter for him.

She got a blanket for Catcher and gently draped it over him and then jotted a quick note so he wouldn't worry before she snatched up his article and headed out to hail a cab.

The deadline Catch himself had set was fast approaching and Peter was pacing about his office trying to hold off the nervous breakdown and finding the courage to tell Catcher Block he really was fired.  He was just about to let his nerves claim him when Barbara walked through his office door and set the article on his desk.

"I hope that suits you because Catch exhausted himself writing it," Barbara said.  "He's sound asleep on his couch at the moment."

Peter picked up the article and perused it quickly.  "It is just fine.  Not a Pulitzer but will grab readers attention.  Tell him I hope he feels better," Peter exclaimed with a smile.

"I will do that.  Good bye Peter," Barbara replied as she walked out the door.

Once Barbara was gone Peter sat down to read Catcher's article a little more closely.

"What Men really Want: The Deep Down Truth by Catcher Block," he read aloud.  "So this is what he comes up with when he's sick," Peter sighed as he read on and sent it to print when he had finished.