AN: I needed a break from Any Man of Mine for a bit. Standard disclaimers apply.


"Stephanie. Steph! Open your eyes. God, please open your eyes. You have to be alright. Wake up, Cupcake." Faintly I registered the panicked tone in Joe's voice but for the life of me, I didn't know why it was there. Why was he pleading with me to open my eyes? Why wouldn't I open my eyes? Before the implications of his pleas could spark any panic I felt myself sliding farther away from him. I decided not to fight it and let myself fall into the abyss.

I was just standing there. I had no memory of how I got here. I wasn't even sure where here was, except that it looked like a bar. I mean there were bar stools and tables. There was a raised platform at the far end of the room; I guess it could qualify as a stage. I looked down at what I was wearing. My eyes took in the torn knees of my black jeans. My God! Was that blood? On closer inspection it turned out it was blood, but dried. Why had I been bleeding? I didn't feel any pain. Black boots. Scuffed with a fresh layer of dirt and dust. I twisted my arms around to see them, again noting the ripped elbows in the long sleeves of one of my RangeMan uniforms. Okay, I obviously had tussled with a skip but not as a result of a distraction gone wrong. It was a reasonable supposition since I was in a bar. That's where a lot of my distraction jobs are. That still didn't explain how I got here. Or even where here was.

Feeling slightly dizzy, I reached out and grabbed a chair. I just have to sit for a moment. As soon as I sat down, the lights went out. I heard someone shriek. I'm pretty sure it was me since there didn't appear to be anyone else around. Great. I'm alone. I don't know where I am. I can't see a damn thing and I'm injured. I'm screwed. I heard movement several feet ahead of me and decided to rethink my position of a moment ago. I was not alone. I'm even more screwed!

The lights on the stage came on and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I rubbed my eyes. No way was this real. Joe, Eddie and Carl were on the stage. Joe walked over to the jukebox I hadn't noticed in the corner, next to the stage. I heard the coins drop in, heard him press buttons, and I heard the music start. Wait a minute, I know this song but I can't name it at the moment. For some reason, Tom Cruise comes to mind. I tried to speak, to call his name, to ask him what was going on, but I found I couldn't get my vocal cords to perform. Joe went back onto the platform and nodded at the other two. What in the hell is going on?

Suddenly there was a spotlight on me. I tried to move away from it but my body refused to cooperate. I was rooted to the spot. I still couldn't make my voice work. I felt my jaw drop as Joe started singing along with the jukebox.

"You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips.
And there's no tenderness like before in your fingertips.
You're trying hard not to show it,"

Then Carl started "baby"

"But baby, baby I know it..." Joe again.

Then all three of them were singing.

"You've lost that lovin' feeling,
Whoa, that lovin' feeling,
You've lost that lovin' feeling,
Now it's gone...gone...gone...wooooooh."

I'm sure by now my eyes were bugging out of my head. I used to say Lula's eyes looked like duck eggs. I'm positive mine must have looked like ostrich eggs. What in the fuck is going on? Did I step into the twilight zone?

Joe jumped off the stage and walked towards me. I desperately tried to move, to speak, to do something. I couldn't. It was as if as soon as I sat down, my body disconnected itself from my mind.

"Now there's no welcome look in your eyes when I reach for you.
And now your're starting to critisize little things I do.
It makes me just feel like crying,"

"baby," Eddie this time.

"'Cause baby, something in you is dying." Yeah, Joe could be right. I think I'm dead and in some weird form of hell.

"You lost that lovin' feeling,
Whoa, that lovin' feeling,
You've lost that lovin' feeling,
Now it's gone..."

Oh God, Carl's opening his mouth again. "gone..."

Eddie's turn "gone...woooooah"

By now, Joe was kneeling in front of me, arm outstretched, finger tips stopping just short of actually touching me. "Baby, baby, I get down on my knees for you." Joe cannot be singing a love song to me. We broke up, months ago. This must be somebody's idea of a very sick joke. Dear God. Where's Batman when I really need him?

"If you would only love me like you used to do, yeah." Joe continued, seemingly oblivious to my distress. "We had a love..."

"a love..." Carl.

"a love," Eddie.

"you don't find everyday. So don't..." Joe again.

"don't..." Eddie.

"don't..." Carl.

"don't let it slip away." I was relieved at this point that my body wasn't listening to my brain. Joe would have found out first hand what it felt like to be covered in someone else's vomit. This was totally unreal.

They continued the rest of the song in this fashion, with Eddie and Carl alternating on the echoing verses to Joe's lead. I wonder what Joe had used to bribe Eddie and Carl to get them to agree to do this.

You know, when Tom Cruise and what's his name that went on to ER did this in Top Gun, it was sexy, romantic. Watching the Three Stooges up here had totally wrecked that image in my mind. Once my body started moving again, I was going to make them regret it.

Once the song ended, Joe turned without saying another thing. Thank God, because he'd already said waaaaaaaaaay too much. He joined the other two on the raised platform, all three bowed, and it went completely pitch black again.

I heard my name called. That's Tank's voice, why does he sound frantic? Where is he?

"Steph. Bombshell!" Oh hell no, he didn't just call me Bombshell!? I hate being called Bombshell! " Damn it girl, wake up. Do you want to be responsible for my death? Ranger will kill me if you aren't alright. Come on Stephanie. Open those eyes up."

"It's no use. She's out cold. I just hope the paramedics get here soon. Hang on Cupcake, they're on their way." Paramedics? What the hell is going on?


My sincerest apologies to the Righteous Brothers and JE for any damage done to their creative works. LOL! If you find typos/grammar/spelling errors that are distracting please be sure to let me know.