Cape Haven Challenge: A Friend in Need

Challenged by Sam. J

Elements:

An unlikely couple must result (may be romantic or friendly, doesn't matter). Someone outside the couple has to comment on their closeness. There has to be bugs seen somewhere other than Jam Pony (and not computer bugs, either!).

I assume it is supposed to be Season One, and at least the minimum of the last challenge, which was 1,500 words, I believe.

We were given until August 10, 2004 to complete the challenge – and here we are, with one hour and fifteen minutes to go. Let's give it a crack, shall we?

By the way, my apologies for my last post. All the asterisks I used to separate the scenes were consumed. I'm trying dashes this time.

Please note this hasn't been betaed. Have mercy on me.

I do not benefit financially from anything I write here. Just having fun.

A Friend in Need

By Mouse Words: 1,823

Max regarded the shirt Kendra waved in front of her and sighed. It was pink, with a round neckline and sleeves that came just below the elbow.

"I don't think so."

"Are you kidding? It's perfect."

"Maybe if I were somebody else." Max flipped through her magazine, not really reading it but trying to avoid the topic her roommate was determined to pursue. "Somebody else like… you, for example."

Kendra's smile faltered. "You go to a wedding with this guy but you won't dress up for dinner?"

"It's at his place, not a restaurant or somethin'." Max scowled at the cover. "It's not like I haven't been there for dinner before."

"But it's a party, Max." The blonde sat on the worn couch beside her friend, and their heads bent together, both staring blankly at the motorcycle magazine as if the solution would appear. They were a contrast, light and dark, salt and pepper. They worked well together sharing the space, despite their differences. Today wasn't one of those days, however. "Everyone gets dressed up for a party, Max."

"Logan wouldn't want me to fuss about it." Max stood and reached for her jacket.

"Where are you going? We have to get ready."

"I'm goin' out, Kendra. For a walk. I actually have a day off and I wanna enjoy the sunshine. Dinner isn't for another seven hours. I'll be back in plenty of time." She paused in the doorway long enough to look back over her shoulder and say, "And I'll even let you play with my hair."

"Hey, were you able to ask Logan about the –"

Click.

" – Eucalyptus oil?"

Kendra sighed. Her shoulders had been giving her trouble lately and a decent massage rub was difficult to find. Try impossible, Kendra thought, tossing the magazine onto the space vacated by Max. Finding the ingredients to make your own wasn't quite so bad, but something as exotic as Eucalyptus oil? She sighed. She'd asked Max the previous week to see if Logan knew of a source. He had connections, that much was apparent, so why not use them? Unfortunately, Max either kept forgetting to ask, or said there hadn't been a good time to broach the topic.

Tonight was a small dinner party at Logan's and he'd invited Max and some of her friends. It was unusual, apparently, for him to open his home to people he didn't know very well, but he wanted to do something special for Max, as a thank you for helping out with some of his journalistic stuff. Kendra didn't have the details and suspected she never would. It didn't matter. A party was a party and she'd wanted Max to look nice. Mind you, she thought, you could put Max in burlap and she'd look good.

Still holding the shirt, Kendra made a decision and tugged her cell 'phone from her pants pocket. She had been given a contact number, in case of emergencies, but she was sufficiently bold and desperate to use it now. After three rings, someone picked up.

"Hello?"

That didn't sound like his voice.

"Hello?" She looked at the number on her screen. Yep, that should be the right one. "Have I reached Logan Cale's residence?"

"Yeah. He's kinda busy right now. Did you need to speak with him?"

Kendra chewed her bottom lip. "Well, I wouldn't want to bug him if he's busy." She took a deep breath and plunged ahead. "It's Kendra. I'm Max's roommate. We're… we're coming over there tonight and I was wondering…" Kendra, when did you lose the ability to talk? "I've asked Max if Logan might know of a source for Eucalyptus oil, but… Well, I thought I'd ask myself, 'cause I know they're busy, but my shoulders…"

There was a pause at the other end. Kendra idly wondered if the guy thought she was some kind of flake. She moved from the couch and started to pace. "I wouldn't ask," she added hastily, "if I wasn't having trouble doing simple stuff, you know? Like making my bed and so on." She was babbling now, and she knew it. "I'm making my own rub, for the muscles, you know? And I – "

"Okay." The voice stopped her and she was relieved. "I'll see what I can do."

"It doesn't have to be a lot, you know, and it doesn't have to be tonight, I'm not calling to put any pressure on or anything – "

"Okay, stop, I get it." He wasn't angry at all. Kendra could hear a smile in his voice. It was very calming to listen to him. "It's okay. I'll see what I can do, no promises. Alright?"

"Alright." She stopped pacing. "Hey, who am I talking to, anyway?"

"I'm Logan's therapist. Name's Bling."

"Therapist? Cool. Well, thanks a lot for… looking into that. I really appreciate it, 'cause I just can't find a substitute I like and – "

Bling laughed. "Kendra?"

"Yeah?"

"I'll see you tonight."

"Cool," she said and the line disconnected.

After a moment's contemplation, she decided to wear the pink shirt herself.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bling put the receiver down, still smiling in some bewilderment.

"Who was that?" Logan was in the kitchen, getting dinner ready for the evening. The chicken had been marinated in teriyaki sauce, the pots and oil were ready for preparing tempura shrimp and fresh snow peas, celery and onion had been chopped to go with the chicken. Steamed rice completed the menu – if you didn't include the fact Logan was currently spreading sticky rice on a bamboo mat and adding avocado and crab to make a sushi roll. Ambitious? Yes, but that was Logan. When he wanted a themed meal, there was no stopping him. He even had sake.

Now if I could just get him to put that kind of focus into his exercises…

"You okay for a bit?"

Logan looked up for the wooden board on his lap, a tight roll in progress.

"Um, yeah. Sure. You'll be back?"

"In a flash." Bling pulled his jacket on and headed for the door. "Need anything from the market?"

"Uh, I don't think so. What are you picking up?"

Bling smiled enigmatically. "I need to see a woman about some oil."

Logan was left to ponder that news as he continued his battle with sticky rice.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I had a super time," Kendra said sincerely as she zipped her sweater and prepared to leave. She was getting a lift home with Original Cindy and Sketchy. Bling had offered to drive them, as it was a cold evening and check points would go faster if he were their escort. It helped to have an employer with influence.

"Great to finally meet you." Logan shook her hand once more and watched them depart.

"Well," Max said. She was staying, though Logan wasn't sure why. He had no objections to her company. Ostensibly, it was to help tidy up, but Kendra and Bling had finished all but the larger pans, which were in soak. The young woman was sprawled on his couch, not looking particularly anxious to move.

"Well," Logan echoed and rolled his wheelchair closer to the couch. "I think everyone enjoyed themselves."

"Absolutely. The food, the wine, the company… Doesn't get much better, ya know?"

"Good." Max was smiling and if he had to have a dinner party once a week to see that radiant smile, he'd give it serious consideration. "So, how do you like Japanese?"

She wrinkled her nose a little. "The jury is still out on the sticky rice roll thingy, but the chicken was amazing. How did you know Kendra is into Japanese stuff?"

Logan smiled. "I didn't."

"I have a question."

"Go ahead."

"What was in the package Bling gave Kendra?"

"Eucalyptus oil."

Max sat up suddenly. "Oh, hell. She asked me to ask you to ask Bling days ago."

Logan laughed and leaned back in his wheelchair, relaxed from the wine and her enjoyment of the evening. "I guess she decided to take matters into her own hands. She called earlier today and asked Bling herself."

"That's cool." Max lay back down and considered the ceiling. "She isn't… hitting on him, is she?"

"I don't think so. I just think she'd found someone who understands the merits of some of the alternative medicines she seems to thrive on."

"A mutual interest."

"Yeah."

"Oh."

There was a moment of companionable silence.

"She's okay. Ya know?"

"I picked up on that."

"I mean, she fusses over me too much, sometimes, but she's just looking out for me, ya know?"

"She did a nice job on your hair."

He noticed! her Inner Commentator said with glee.

Ah, shut up.

"Thanks."

"She's a good friend." He leaned on his knees with his elbows. "You know what they say: 'A friend in need is a friend in deed'."

Max shifted on the couch slightly and raised an eyebrow. "Is there a committee that sits around, thinking these things up?"

He pretended to consider this. "I don't think so. Maybe 'Eyes Only' will have to check it out."

"It's good to have friends."

Max took a long time to respond. "It's everything," she said quietly.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I sit on the Space Needle, replaying the events of the evening and hoping everything really did go well. I know Logan was nervous about it, but everyone got along and the topics over dinner were so varied that no one had time to get bored.

We were finishing the pots together, chatting about, of all things, the status of garbage removal in Seattle when we got a panicked call from Kendra when she got home. Seems we have some millipedes invading our bathroom and she'd screamed when she'd switched on the light. Bling had walked her up and you could hear him in the background, trying to placate my roommate. She hates bugs. Logan assured her we could get a spray that'd take care of them. She sounded so grateful.

I smile. Logan had the call on speaker 'phone. You could hear the sound of a broom smacking the floor at irregular intervals. Apparently, Kendra was calling from her perch on the toilet seat while Bling was disposing of the intruders he could find. Logan and I contained our laughter until the call was completed but just barely. I'm glad she wasn't by herself.

'A friend in need is a friend in deed.'

I'm lucky enough to have more friends than I ever thought possible, and we all look out for one another. I think about my friendship with Logan. Is there something more there, something that isn't platonic? There are times when I think I know and others when I'm so confused I think I'll never figure it out.

It doesn't matter. I wouldn't trade in what we have for all the source codes in Manticore.

I don't know if that's love, but friendship?

Oh, yeah.

---------------------------------------------End.-----------------------------------------