This here is the last chapter. Thank you to both people reading this.
hold me closer, tony danza
the same Saturday
As Tim was warming up and building the courage (or the drunkenness) required to sing "Tiny Dancer" to Wanda, Ralphie picked Phoebe's note off the door. After puzzling over it for a moment, he decided to walk the few blocks to Ralph's and see if he could figure out what was going on. He put the note back a little bit more crooked than he'd found it.
Wanda basked in Tim's attentions. She'd never had a guy sing to her before, and found herself loving it. "This song really is about me," she thought.
"Hold me closer, tiny dancer," Tim crooned, pulling her close.
"What the hell kind of kinky –?" Carlos just stopped. "You realize we eat meals on that table, right?"
"Go. Away." Wanda snapped.
"Yes ma'am." Arnold shut the door. "So, now what do we do?"
"I want to wash my eyes." Keesha whined.
"There's an ocean over there." Carlos offered.
"That's a bad idea." Keesha replied.
"So, now what do we do?" D.A. repeated Arnold's question.
"Where are Phoebe and Ralphie?" Arnold wondered. Keesha and Carlos looked at each other knowingly (although they were speculating).
"Phoebe left a note." D.A. grabbed the note from the door. "She's at Ralph's."
"They went all the way back to his house?" Carlos raised his eyebrows at Keesha.
"Carlos, you always point out that Ralphie has the same name as Ralph's." Keesha rolled her eyes.
"What if he kidnapped her and this is what she managed to write to give us a hint?" Carlos grabbed the note, excitedly.
"You watch way too many movies." D.A. sighed.
"Well, you tell me what you think the note means, Nancy Drew." Carlos folded his arms.
"That Phoebe went to the grocery store." D.A. replied slowly.
"That's not what I read." Carlos countered.
"Are you illiterate or something?" Arnold asked. "She's at Ralph's."
"And where is Ralph?" Carlos looked around to illustrate his point. "And she's at Ralph's what?"
"Just drop it." D.A. sighed. She banged on the door. "Are you two done yet?"
"Hold on!" Wanda yelled.
"That's so unhygienic." Arnold went pale. "I don't want to eat off that table."
"No one does." D.A. added. "Actually, Carlos might."
"Ew, NO!" Carlos replied. "I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid."
Phoebe had managed to stop crying by the time she passed the produce section for the third time. She took a few deep breaths and kept circling the store, pretending she was shopping. She couldn't believe that Tim, who supposedly liked her, was with Wanda. Actually, she could believe it. Life had a nice way of flipping her the bird this way. She wondered why she'd actually thought she had a chance with Tim in the first place. She bit the inside corner of her mouth to keep herself from weeping over the cereal. She was having a good look at the selection when Ralphie interrupted her.
"Hey," he half-panted.
"Hi." Phoebe said softly, looking back at the varieties of corn flakes, pretending to be enthralled with the selection of fruits that came in them nowadays.
"Did you hear about Tim and Wanda?" Ralphie asked, not wanting to reveal more than he had to in the unlikely case that Phoebe hadn't heard.
"I saw them." Phoebe replied, her eyes welling up again, causing her to bite harder on her cheek.
"Yuck." Ralphie tried to figure out what was going on with the corn flakes that was intriguing her so much.
"Yeah, I should've seen it coming." Phoebe closed her eyes and wished she hadn't said anything.
"I don't think anyone did." Ralphie offered encouragingly.
"Guys always go for Wanda." Phoebe said almost inaudibly, then decided it would be best to change the subject. "Did you follow me here?"
"I read your note." Ralphie looked at her ear, since she wasn't turning to look at him. "I wanted to make sure you were okay."
"Thanks." Phoebe glanced over at him. "I just couldn't believe it. I mean, if he liked me, would he really go out and do this?"
"About that," Ralphie started. Phoebe looked at him expectantly. "I'm not entirely sure he did like you."
"Then why did you tell me he did?" Phoebe was getting the closest Ralphie had ever seen her to angry.
"Because I thought he did. I was pretty sure about it, and then this happened." Ralphie confessed. "I'm really sorry. I should've kept my mouth shut."
"Yeah." Phoebe sighed. "Oh well, it's in the past."
"So it's okay?" Ralphie ventured, half expecting to be slapped across the face.
"I guess. Let's go back." Phoebe shrugged. She was too emotionally worn out to care much about Ralphie embellishing the truth. "I'm sick of staring at the cereal anyway."
"Since Tim is busy, what do you say we take a spin in the convertible?" Carlos offered, trying to break the tension.
"You already did that today, remember?" Dorothy Ann sighed, exasperated. "If you'd taken my car, I would've called the police on you."
"Spending the night in jail in L.A. would probably get me much girls." Carlos thought aloud.
"Many." D.A. and Arnold corrected simultaneously.
"I know, I was being funny." Carlos rolled his eyes.
"Or an idiot." Keesha smiled.
"That too." Carlos indulged her a little bit.
"You're admitting you're an idiot?" Keesha was aghast. She was caught off-guard for a moment, but reached into her purse and pulled out a cookie. "Here, have a Carlos snack."
"That's so degrading." D.A. shook her head. Arnold kept his mouth shut. He preferred to let Dorothy Ann be the outspoken one. Though not shy, he wasn't as free with his opinions as she was. "Why are you letting her treat you like a dog?"
"Because I get free food." Carlos gobbled down the cookie.
"Her treating you like a dog doesn't magically make you a dog." Arnold started. "I bet you can't lick your crotch."
"How do you know?" Carlos asked as the girls made faces of disgust at each other.
"You wouldn't be bothering with us if you could." Arnold raised an eyebrow. "Am I right or am I right?"
"You're right." Carlos grinned mischievously.
"That's disgusting." D.A. scoffed.
"You're disgusting." Carlos countered.
"Clever." Keesha shook her head.
"You just wish Arnold was training you." Carlos pressed D.A.
"I'm not going to fight with you." D.A. took a deep breath. "I don't want to give you that satisfaction."
"You're kind of a bitch, you know that?" Carlos asked before getting slapped hard across the face.
"Stop picking on each other." Keesha sighed. "How are you doing, Arnold?"
"Um, fine, thanks." Arnold looked awkwardly at D.A. and Carlos, who were still angry. "Oh, look who decided to show up!" He exhaled hard at the sight of Phoebe's crummy van.
Before Ralphie's feet even hit the ground, Carlos had run up to the van, demanding an explanation. "Why did you kidnap Phoebe?"
"What are you talking about?" Ralphie asked.
"Carlos is a bit illiterate. Don't mind him." Keesha pushed him aside. "Did you get anything for us?"
"No, sorry." Phoebe shrugged, getting out of the van slowly. Arnold was staring at her. He knew she'd been crying. He knew the subtle redness around her eyes that she couldn't get rid of, no matter how hard she tried. "I'm fine." She assured him firmly.
"You sure?" Arnold asked. His blue eyes shone at her slightly pleadingly. "If you need to talk…"
"I'll be okay." Phoebe smiled weakly at him. "Is it safe to go in there now?"
"Who knows?" D.A. smiled halfheartedly. "I'd go back to the beach, but I'm hungry."
"The pizza should be here soon." Arnold offered. "I could call you when it comes."
"You're sweet." D.A. smiled. She liked dealing with Arnold much more than Carlos. Arnold didn't try to push her buttons, whereas it seemed Carlos got some weird high off making her angry. Phoebe turned back to the others who weren't in sickeningly cute couples. Carlos was interrogating Ralphie.
"Did you get voted out of the condo?" Carlos joked.
"No." Ralphie retorted. "I would beat you at Survivor so hard, you'd – hurt."
"I stay around for their intelligent debates." Keesha remarked snidely to Phoebe, who smiled.
"They never disappoint." Phoebe added, then, as she met Keesha's eyes, continued, "and I'm perfectly fine. I just want some food." Keesha raised her eyebrows. "Honestly."
"Okay." Keesha stared at Phoebe. She knew better than to believe Phoebe's feeble attempts at lying. These were boy-tears, and Keesha knew it. "If you need me to beat up Ralphie, let me know." She whispered.
"I'm going to use you as an excuse, okay Pheebs?" Carlos paused for at most a quarter of a second. "Thanks. OPEN UP, PHOEBE'S DYING FROM … FOOD DEFICIENCY. SHE HAS NO FAT STORES. SHE'S FADING FAST."
"Hold on!" Two voices replied in unison.
"You're killing Pheebso!" Carlos yelled. "I hope you can live with yourselves!" He turned to the skeptical crowd of his friends outside the door. "Act like Phoebe's dying."
"Oh, I'm so sad that Phoebe, my best friend ever, is dying!" Keesha cried melodramatically.
"Why aren't you guys acting?" Carlos hissed.
"I don't think I'd make noise if I was dying." Phoebe surmised.
"Because it's a dumb idea." Ralphie retorted. Keesha pinched his neck, making the "TSST" sound Carlos was now familiar with. "What was that?"
"You got TSSTed!" Carlos laughed.
"Pizza's here." Dorothy Ann said loudly. "Carlos, will you knock on the door and let Wanda and Tim know?"
"Please," Keesha added, giving a look to Carlos.
"Sure." Carlos looked slightly disappointed as he knocked on the door. "Phoebe's going to pull through if you let us in now!"
"But we'd rather you keep your melodrama going." Tim grinned as he opened the door.
"Wipe that stupid grin off your face." Ralphie ordered.
"What grin?" Tim continued smiling.
"I'm getting the disinfectant." Arnold headed to the closet with the cleaning supplies.
"What are you, some kind of … germ killer?" Wanda asked.
"Yes." Arnold grabbed a spray bottle and began to squirt everything he thought the couple had touched.
"I'll help." D.A. picked up a stray rag and began wiping the surfaces.
"You guys are crazy." Wanda lifted a piece of pizza out of the box, letting the cheese stretch out and delighting in it. "This looks great, guys."
"I think I nearly have everything sterile." Arnold sighed. "You two are disgusting."
"Your mom's disgusting." Wanda retorted, her mouth full of pizza.
"Your face is disgusting." Keesha added, instantly regretting getting involved.
"Your mom's face is disgusting!" Wanda giggled.
"This argument is getting dumber by the second." Tim shook his head lightly.
"Dude, stop smiling." Ralphie demanded. "It's getting creepy."
"So, Pheebolino," Carlos changed the subject to the music that was constantly playing. "Why did you put 'California Dreamin'' on the CD if we're from California?"
"Because it says 'I'll be safe and warm if I was in L.A.'" Ralphie replied before Phoebe could open her mouth. "Right?"
"Right." Phoebe nodded.
"I still think it's stupid." Carlos rolled his eyes.
"Do you want us to put in one of your CDs?" Keesha asked, looking at D.A. and giggling.
Months earlier, Keesha and D.A. had been hanging out and noticed that Carlos had left two unlabeled CDs in D.A.'s room.
"Let's listen to them!" Keesha's eyes widened with delight.
"Fine, but we're not putting them in the computer. I'm afraid he put Trojans or something on there." D.A. said skeptically.
"I doubt it." Keesha grabbed a disc and put it in D.A.'s stereo. "He can't even think 'Trojan' without laughing."
"True." D.A. laughed. The music began. "Is this rap?" She seemed confused. A distinctive horn section joined the beat.
"It's better." Keesha laughed. "It's Mexican rap."
"Not bad." D.A. hit "next."
"Does Carlos even speak Spanish?" Keesha asked.
"I think he can swear." D.A. offered.
"So why is he listening to Mexican rap if he doesn't know Spanish?"
"Ay, mija, I don't know." D.A. shrugged.
"YOU know Spanish?" Keesha gasped. "Who doesn't know Spanish?"
"We're in California." D.A. pointed out. "Everyone knows Spanish except you, Phoebe, and Carlos."
"Good point." Keesha hit next. "I wonder if this whole CD is rap." After a few songs, the music's mood changed. "Jackpot…" She grinned. A few light strumming guitars gave way to a voice that Keesha figured had been on Mexico's version of American Idol. "I just knew he listened to sappy love songs."
"Why would he listen to this?" D.A. was confused.
"I wonder if he named it 'A Tribute That I Don't Entirely Understand to My Darling Dorothy Ann.'" Keesha teased. "Alas, we'll never know unless you put the CD in the computer…"
"No way." D.A. shook her head. "He may not be able to say 'Trojan' without laughing, but he can say 'virus.'"
"He'd do it just so he could give you a virus." Keesha teased. "He's too pathetic."
"It's really sad." D.A. sighed. "I wish I knew…"
"How to get him to quit you?" Keesha laughed.
"I wasn't going to say that." D.A. rolled her eyes.
"You so were." Keesha retorted.
"If he were a gay cowboy, we wouldn't be having this problem." D.A. mused.
"Itis a five CD changer," Arnold pointed out. "I could put in one of yours."
"Here, put this in." Ralphie opened a CD wallet and handed him a CD. Tim followed suit.
"Aren't you going to give Arnold a CD?" DA asked slyly. She and Keesha tried in vain to suppress their laughter.
"What's so funny about my CDs?" Carlos asked, confused about D.A. and Keesha giggling.
"Do you remember those two CDs you left in my room?" DA managed.
"What CDs?" Carlos furrowed his brow, hoping they didn't mean what he thought they might mean.
"The ones that sound like they came straight from a Tijuana prom." Keesha laughed.
"I burned those for Mikey." Carlos replied quickly.
"He's lying. Look at those lyin' eyes." D.A. giggled.
"Good song." Ralphie remarked to Phoebe, who smiled. She was glad Keesha and D.A. were picking on Carlos so she could avoid the inevitable talk with Keesha. Keesha's interrogation techniques had been developed and honed on Phoebe, and there was virtually nothing Phoebe knew that Keesha couldn't find out. Her only hope was to start feeling better and fast, and that Keesha would get distracted.
"I wanted to see if you named the disc something like 'For The Most Beautiful Woman in the World' or something equally cheesy, but D.A. wouldn't put the CD in her computer." Keesha continued. Carlos was actually embarrassed, something that rarely happened.
"Why didn't you?" Arnold asked.
"He could've put Trojans on there!" D.A. pointed at Carlos.
"Heh heh, Trojans." Carlos laughed. "More like magnums if it's me."
"More like a thimble." Tim retorted. Carlos grew red with indignation and embarrassment. "You can't argue with me. We had gym together last year."
"You've seen him naked?" D.A. gasped. "Isn't that weird?"
"Only if you make it weird." Tim shrugged. "I'm just comfortable with my sexuality, unlike other people." He looked at Ralphie.
"I can play football because I'm comfortable with my sexuality." Ralphie argued. "Carlos is the one who pretends he's never seen a guy's butt."
"I don't look at their asses, perv." Carlos argued.
"Carlos, you played football for years. There's nothing else to look at when everyone's all crouched down at the line of scrimmage…" Ralphie started.
"I don't want to talk about it." Carlos interrupted.
"Didn't you slap more ass than anyone else?" Arnold prodded.
"More than everyone else combined." Tim corrected.
"Okay, that's enough picking on Carlos." Keesha jumped in. "I think I need to have a chat with Phoebe." Phoebe swore under her breath. Keesha grabbed her by the elbow and they went into the other room.
"I love cheese." Wanda said after a moment of silence. "I love how it's stretchy."
"You're incredibly easily amused." Arnold stifled a laugh.
"I'm happier than most people who are boring." Wanda replied.
"You know, Carlos," Dorothy Ann started.
"Why don't you just leave me alone?" Carlos snapped. "I know I was all sleazy and stuff, but that's no reason to humiliate me!"
"Touchy." Wanda bit her lip.
"Seriously." Tim looked at Wanda with his eyebrows raised.
"You two need to stop looking at each other like that. It's giving me the creeps." Ralphie shuddered.
"Like what?" Tim asked.
"Like…that." Ralphie explained, frustrated. "Like you know something we don't know. Well, we all heard and/or saw what you did, so it's not a fun little secret."
"And it makes some of us want to puke." Arnold added, recalling the large number of surfaces he'd needed to disinfect.
"You're just jealous." Wanda gloated.
"You said that when we were worried about you having dyslexia too." D.A. said.
"When in Rome." Wanda added.
"What's sad is that you say that because you know it'll make us laugh, not because you get the joke." Arnold laughed.
"So?" Wanda replied. "I don't need to know what it means."
"And you thought you were immune to chicken pox because one couldn't 'pock' you in your townhouse." Ralphie added.
"I THOUGHT YOU GOT CHICKEN POX FROM CHICKENS. IS THAT SO STUPID?" Wanda yelled.
"I like the idea of roasting everyone." Carlos laughed. "I already had my turn. So did you guys hear about the time Wanda thought she was dying but she was really just thirsty?"
"I'm going to give you one chance upfront." Keesha said solemnly. "Spill it all now and you'll avoid the worst of it."
"I – I just – " Phoebe stammered, trying to decide which was better: to be noble and keep her mouth shut or to tell Keesha everything, as she probably would eventually. "It's a long story and I was confused."
"Continue." Keesha folded her arms. Phoebe wondered if she'd ever considered a job in the FBI or the CIA.
"Shouldn't you make sure they're not bullying Carlos?" Phoebe asked weakly.
"What is it you're hiding?" Keesha asked rhetorically. "I think you're pregnant with Arnold's kid."
"WHAT?!" Phoebe squealed. "Arnold and I broke up three months ago."
"And you're carrying his child. That's why you're so moody!" Her eyes lit up.
"No it isn't!" Phoebe argued.
"So why did you run to Ralph's? For a pregnancy test." Keesha continued.
"No!" Phoebe cried. "I went to Ralph's because I walked in on Tim and Wanda."
"But why Ralph's?" Keesha thought aloud. "To get Wanda a pregnancy test?" She turned to Phoebe.
"I don't care if Wanda's pregnant." Phoebe looked up at Keesha from where she was slouched on the bed. Keesha was pacing around the room, an act which she thought helped her think. "I mean… it doesn't matter to me, I guess."
"So why didn't you just stay outside the condo? Why were you crying?" Keesha pressed.
"Because…" Phoebe sighed and decided to give up her noble attempt at remaining silent. "I was starting to get a crush on Tim because Ralphie told me that Tim liked me, then I came and saw them… copulating and it made me cry."
"Oh right, they were playing the interrogate Phoebe game." Keesha recalled. "Sorry I couldn't help with that."
"I'm glad you were busy." Phoebe replied. "Or they'd know everything and it never would've happened."
"What never would've happened?" Keesha asked, hoping Phoebe was in a talking mood.
"I never would've run off and cried." Phoebe sighed.
"Why's that?" Keesha asked.
"STOP IT!" Wanda yelled. "Stop making me look stupid!"
"You did it, we're just helping." Tim laughed.
"I'm never sleeping with you again." Wanda huffed. "You weren't even that good."
"I was kidding." Tim sighed. "I was just teasing you."
"I'm dead serious though." Wanda squared her jaw.
"Then you aren't riding all the way home in the convertible if you're going to be grumpy." Tim smiled faintly.
"I'm not being grumpy; you're being mean." Wanda retorted.
"Maybe this wasn't such a great idea." Arnold said uneasily. He was wondering what the guys especially would have to say about him. "Maybe we should finish the game of Truth or Dare."
"Yeah!" Wanda dropped her sulkiness immediately. "Now that we don't have Phoebe to wimp out on us, it'll actually be fun."
"Uh, Tim," Ralphie started. "Could I talk to you for a second?"
"Sure." Tim followed Ralphie into the kitchen.
"You two are worse than girls!" Carlos called after them. "And what the hell is this?" He asked, pointing to the stereo, which was playing Fleetwood Mac.
"It's Fleetwood Mac." Ralphie explained. "They're classic."
"It's sissy music." Carlos retorted. "I'd rather listen to Keesha's Billy Idol Megamix."
"THE GANGSTERS LISTEN TO FLEETWOOD MAC IN GOODFELLAS." Ralphie yelled more loudly than he intended to. "Besides," he cleared his throat. "This song has cowbell in it."
"So it does," Arnold remarked.
"Anyway," Ralphie turned to Tim. "I know who Phoebe likes."
"Oh really? So do I. Wanda told me." Tim remarked.
"She likes you." The two guys said in unison.
"What?" Tim asked.
"I told her you liked her and that's why we wanted to know." Ralphie explained. "I told her while we were at the ballpark."
"Why do you think she went there with you in the first place?" Tim asked. "And I didn't like Phoebe while we were here."
"You did before, though, right?" Ralphie asked.
"Yeah, like a month ago." Tim shrugged. "But Wanda told me she likesyou."
"What?" Ralphie wondered. "That doesn't make any sense! I don't believe you."
Just then, a lull between songs, a lull in the conversation, and a breakthrough occurred. "YOU LIKE RALPHIE?" Keesha screeched from the other room. Although the door was closed, Keesha's voice carried very well.
"What more proof do you need?" Tim smirked.
"Well, that was awkward." Carlos laughed uneasily as "Eyes Without a Face" began to play.
"Look, you got your Billy Idol wish." Dorothy Ann pointed out.
"Keesha! Get out here!" Arnold called.
Keesha emerged from the bedroom, dragging a flustered and bright red Phoebe behind her. "Ooh, my CD!" She squealed. "Thanks, Arn. I don't know why I love synthesizer 'clapping' so much…" She mused, her eyes glazing over, then she began to sing, "Eyes without a face, got no human grace, your eyes without a face…"
"She's gone." Carlos whispered.
"Are you okay, Phoebe?" D.A. asked.
"I'm fine." Phoebe practically whispered.
"I bet you five bucks she won't look at you." Tim whispered to Ralphie.
"She was acting normal at the park." Ralphie replied.
"She went alone with you to a baseball venue." Tim tilted his head skeptically. "It's as close to asking you on a date as she's going to get. And what did you do? You redirected her?"
"I didn't know!" Ralphie argued. "I apologized to her at Ralph's."
"When did you go to Ralph's?" Tim wondered.
"While you and Wanda were going at it. Phoebe drove to the store after seeing you guys and she was pretty distraught." Ralphie explained.
"So you chased her?" Tim smiled.
"Stop smiling like that!" Ralphie sighed.
"So, Phoebe: truth or dare?" Carlos grinned.
"I'm not playing." Phoebe looked at the floor.
"Okay, then Keesha, what was it you yelled about Phoebe?" Carlos asked.
"I didn't mean to yell it!" Keesha snapped out of her Billy Idol nirvana for a moment. "Sorry, Pheebs. Look at the bright side," she added more quietly. "He hasn't run screaming in the other direction yet like that Casey guy sophomore year."
"Thanks for reminding me." Phoebe said glumly.
"That's what friends are for." Keesha grinned.
"Why don't you guys come join us?" Carlos asked deviously.
"Carlos, please." Phoebe pleaded.
"Let's go to the beach!" Wanda blurted out. "It's getting dark. It'll be awesome."
"Anybody got anything better to suggest?" D.A. asked.
"Nope." Carlos shrugged.
"I can't believe you didn't see it!" Tim laughed at Ralphie. "She practically jumps at the chance of taking you to the ballpark, and then there was the beach thing…"
"I thought you liked her and I was doing you a favor!" Ralphie insisted. "Then you had to go and blow it."
"You were totally just deflecting your feelings onto me." A corner of Tim's mouth went up. "I saw the way you were flirting with her."
"I was being nice." Ralphie defended.
"Right." Tim grinned.
"Stop it." Ralphie punched Tim in the tricep. "Let's just go to the beach. Try to refrain from giving a repeat performance of this evening, okay?"
"So…" Wanda batted her eyelashes at Tim.
"We can't. Ralphie will kill me." Tim laughed a bit.
"Damn." Wanda pouted. "I hate Ralphie sometimes."
"Everyone hates Ralphie sometimes." Tim reassured her. "He's a pain in the ass."
Phoebe saw Ralphie wander away from Tim, and panicked. "I'm going to change now." She said to a spot off to his right and ran into the room and shut the door. A small click a moment later assured them that the door was locked.
"Gosh, I feel terrible for embarrassing Phoebe." Keesha sighed, looking sidelong at Ralphie.
"Yeah, you did a pretty good job." Ralphie scratched his nose nonchalantly.
"You know what it means when your nose itches?" Carlos asked. "It means someone is thinking of you."
"I was supposed to call my mom," Ralphie started.
"No, like SOMEONE someone is thinking of you…" Carlos pointed at the locked door.
"Carlos," Keesha warned playfully. "We can embarrass Ralphie tomorrow."
"Oh, fine." Carlos grinned.
"You two are disgusting." Ralphie said softly. He then realized that he was still wearing his swimming trunks. He thought for a moment, then knocked on the door.
"I'm busy!" Phoebe called.
"Okay." Ralphie said weakly. Talking to Phoebe now wasn't going to happen.
"What's going on?" D.A. asked.
"She's changing." Ralphie explained. "But I don't think she ever changed from when we were on the beach earlier."
D.A. laughed weakly. "Poor Phoebe."
"So… I've been really good, haven't I?" Carlos asked.
"Sure." Keesha replied, pulling a t-shirt over her swimsuit.
"Can I get extra cookies?" Carlos begged.
"Man, you're persistent!" Keesha laughed. "And I thought my dog was bad. Now I'm just glad he can't talk. He'd probably be a lot like you."
"Is that a good thing?" Carlos asked.
Keesha sighed. "Well, of course it is."
"It seems like a backhanded compliment." Carlos said suspiciously.
"You aren't as cute as Pongo." Keesha confessed. "But no one is, and few dogs even get close."
"I always thought Wanda's dog was cute." Carlos tried.
"Wanda's dog is fugly." Keesha laughed. "That poor thing is everything that's wrong with backyard breeders."
"You sound like Phoebe." Carlos smiled.
"She and I agree on lots of things." Keesha sighed. "I feel terrible for embarrassing her." She sat on the bed and rested her chin in her hands.
"You didn't mean to." Carlos sat next to her. "She's a big girl. She'll be fine." He assured.
"If she ever comes out of that room." Keesha shook her head glumly. "I should've kept my suspicions to myself."
"I know it sounds bad, but I'm glad someone got as embarrassed as I did." Carlos confessed. "The guys really brought up a bunch of stuff I'm not necessarily proud of."
"You're being… vulnerable?" Keesha turned and looked at Carlos, aghast. "This is amazing! I didn't think you had it in you!"
Carlos could only think of supremely cheesy things to say at this, so instead he just put his arm around Keesha and kissed her. She put her arms around him and pulled him closer, her lips parting slightly.
"Arnold, I think someone sprinkled Spanish Fly in the condo." Ralphie remarked, indicating Carlos and Keesha in the master bedroom.
"Dammit." Arnold sighed. "Stop it!" He called. "Stop it NOW!"
"Sorry." Carlos smiled a bit. "Actually, I'm not, but I'm sorry it pisses you off."
"Will someone please get Phoebe out?" D.A. worried. "I don't want her staying locked in that room."
"I will." Wanda offered. She rummaged around in a kitchen drawer until she found a toothpick. "This should do it. Now you guys get lost – all of you. I'll call you if I can't find you." The rest of the gang left for the beach. "Phoebe, I'm going to unlock this door. Everyone's gone except you and me."
"You're lying." Phoebe replied.
"I'm not." Wanda insisted. "I'm opening the door now." She pushed the toothpick into the small hole and heard the lock pop. She always loved picking locks, no matter how simple. She turned the doorknob and went into the room, where Phoebe was sitting in a corner, holding her knees to her chest. "You look insane sitting like that." Wanda remarked.
"You sure know how to make a girl feel better." Phoebe smiled a bit. "You're sure you're alone?"
"Yes." Wanda assured her. "What's the problem?"
"Keesha just blurted out that I like Ralphie," Phoebe explained, even though she hated saying it. "And I didn't want everyone to know."
"Well, the good news is that you don't have to tell him now." Wanda pointed out. "He already knows."
"I didn't have to tell him before." Phoebe replied.
"Well I may or may not have told Tim, so it was going to happen one way or another." Phoebe's green eyes widened in horror. "It just happened! It was all part of my master plan!"
"How could you do that to me?" Phoebe asked.
"I thought they already knew!" Wanda wasn't exactly lying.
"Well I told Ralphie that I liked Tim." Phoebe continued. "At the ballpark today."
"Way to go," Wanda nodded in approval. "That's the oldest trick in the book."
"Yeah." Phoebe looked at her feet. "I don't think I can look at him any more."
"Sure you can." Wanda assured her. "You just have to clear the air first."
"Well, you could say 'So, you like me right? Let's go make the kisses!'" Wanda suggested.
Wanda shrugged. "I know it's lame, but I wouldn't suggest it if it didn't work."
"I'm not saying anything like that." Phoebe insisted.
"You could always write him a note like in junior high with checkboxes." Wanda continued. "Or you could have me ask for you, but that's not going to work, because he already knows you like him…"
"I'd really rather just go home, get a summer job, and forget this happened." Phoebe looked up at Wanda.
"But why do that when you can take a risk and maybe have the best summer ever?" Wanda pointed out. "Huh? Doesn't that sound good?"
"I'd really rather not." Phoebe looked back at her Teva-clad feet.
"Don't make me make you talk to him." Wanda warned. "You won't like it. Remember how I pushed you into Arnold in seventh grade?"
"That was terrifying." Phoebe recalled the yearbook social where she'd been dying to get Arnold's signature but was afraid to ask until Wanda literally used Phoebe to knock him off his balance.
"And this will be so much worse, now that I've had years to hone my skills." Wanda promised.
"Fine." Phoebe sighed. "I'll talk to him, but I won't bring it up."
"Except he already knows, so you might as well say something." Wanda said persuasively.
"He already knows, it's his turn to say something." Phoebe tried. "I'll just say hi. When he runs away from me in disgust, you'll see…"
"Whatever, Pheebs." Wanda shook her head. "Didn't you guys spend like all day at the ballpark together?"
"So?" Phoebe looked at Wanda.
"He can't hate you after you did something that nice for him." Wanda reasoned. "In fact, he owes you a trip to the zoo now."
"Zoos are cruel." Phoebe remarked.
"Whatever. I just thought the animal shelter would be too depressing." Wanda smiled. "See? It'll be fine."
"I don't want to take her anywhere out of obligation, though," Ralphie said to Tim.
"You do owe her, but didn't you guys have some connection while you were at the park?" Tim asked.
"I did talk to her about my dad." Ralphie mused. "And I don't do that with people."
"Seriously, what's the likelihood of Phoebe coming up to you and saying, 'So, Ralphie, Keesha beat me to telling you that I want you. Let's go out sometime.' Honestly?" Tim put his hands on his hips.
"You think Keesha's playing a trick on me?" Ralphie asked.
"No, I think you have to – where the hell did you get that idea?" Tim's train of thought derailed.
"I don't know, I just did." Ralphie shrugged. "She's wily."
"I still can't believe the indecency of some people." D.A. remarked to Arnold, glancing back at Tim.
"It was incredibly unsanitary." Arnold nodded. "And it's my uncle's condo."
"I know!" D.A. continued. "I mean, if it were somewhere else, like their own apartment…"
"Isn't it weird that we'll all be having apartments and stuff?" Arnold asked. "I mean, I remember when we were just kids."
"It seems like it hasn't been long, doesn't it?" D.A. smiled. "I can't believe how old we all are."
"But I'm kind of glad." Arnold put his arm around D.A.'s waist. "I mean, if we were still kids this would be kind of creepy."
"Really creepy." D.A. grinned. "I'm glad Carlos is getting better."
"We'll see if it lasts." Arnold said skeptically. "I think he's just pretending to change to get in Keesha's pants."
"Keesha isn't tricked that easily." D.A. remarked. "I guess we'll see."
"Okay, you're going to talk to him." Wanda reminded Phoebe as the two moved quickly toward the others.
"Yes." Phoebe was somewhat exasperated, but mostly anxious. "Because he owes me a trip to the animal shelter."
"Aww, you guys could get a puppy! That would be cute!" Wanda squealed.
"We're not getting a puppy." Phoebe looked at her sternly.
"It'd be like you were parents! You'd be the puppy's mom… ooh, what if you got a fluffy puppy?" Wanda continued thinking aloud. "Like my dog. She's fluffy."
"She's a living illustration of why novice breeders shouldn't breed." Phoebe corrected.
"She's cute!" Wanda argued.
"She's cute, she's just… weird-looking." Phoebe admitted.
"She's adorable." Wanda continued. "Oh look who it is! Hi Ralphie!"
"Hi." Ralphie looked warily and Wanda and uncomfortably at Phoebe.
"Tell him how you're going to be parents!" Wanda said enthusiastically.
"I told you, we're not going to get a puppy." Phoebe gritted her teeth.
"Wow, I was going to say…" Tim looked at Ralphie and raised his eyebrows. "I know you had fun at Dodger Stadium, but not fun..."
"You can shut up now." Ralphie said calmly. A moment of awkward silence ensued.
"Well, you two have a lot to talk about." Tim said, grabbing Wanda's arm.
"Don't wimp out!" Wanda hissed at Phoebe as she and Tim walked away.
"So…" Phoebe started, her voice cracking a little. She then got a brilliant idea. She would get Ralphie started about baseball. "Why do you like the Mets?"
"My mom does." Ralphie explained. "But it's mostly because my dad hated them. He was a Yankees fan."
"You don't have to talk about your dad." Phoebe said. "Not if you don't want to."
"I just felt so crappy after he left, you know?" Ralphie sat down on the sand and Phoebe followed suit. "He got me into Little League and everything, and I hated how much I loved baseball half the time."
"I'm sorry." Phoebe offered quietly.
"It's fine." Ralphie shrugged. "He's still my dad whether I love him or hate him. He's off in New York. I don't know what he's doing. I haven't heard from him in years. He didn't even acknowledge my graduation announcement."
"That's rough. I thought I had it bad when I realized that I was the only girl at school whose dad didn't tell her she was pretty." Phoebe looked at her toes. "I mean, he would, but he can't seeme, so it's different. It's more obligatory."
"That would be weird." Ralphie stared at the waves coming in.
"But I'm glad I have a dad." Phoebe added quickly. "And at least your mom is awesome."
Ralphie laughed weakly. "Yeah, she's pretty… crazy."
"Speaking of crazy," Phoebe pointed at Carlos, who was running toward a man, practically screaming.
"What the hell is he doing?" Ralphie leaned a bit closer to Phoebe to get a closer look. "Is he attacking that man?"
"Carlos, STOP!" Keesha yelled.
"TONY DANZA!" Carlos tackled the man. "You're Tony Danza!"
"I think you broke my nose!" Tony Danza cried.
"But – you're Tony Danza! I broke Tony Danza's nose!" Carlos exclaimed proudly to the small crowd that was gathering.
"I'm not Tony Danza!" The man insisted. "Get off me!"
"Stop lying, I know who you are." Carlos smiled.
"Get off me!" The man yelled. "I think you broke my friggin' face!"
"No! I'd never do that! I love your face in a totally straight way!" Carlos insisted as he was dragged off the man.
"What's going on here?" A police officer asked.
"This guy assaulted me!" "Tony Danza" pointed at Carlos. "He's crazy! He thinks I'm Tony Danza!"
"I love you, Tony!" Carlos cried, lunging at the man.
"I think we ought to take him in." One officer said to his partner.
"Please, you don't have to do that." Keesha pleaded.
"I think we do, miss." The police officer began reading Carlos the Miranda Rights.
"Tony!" Carlos cried at the man as he was taken off the beach.
"A night in prison will get me much girls." Keesha mocked Carlos, who was behind bars at the police station. "What are your parents going to say?"
"They don't have to contact my parents. I'm not a minor." Carlos beamed. "Besides, I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
"You're an idiot." Keesha shook her head.
"I might be in the news!" Carlos exclaimed.
"What?" Wanda asked. "You're going to be famous?"
"Damn straight." Carlos beamed. "You know what this means? It means I win!"
Chapter title is, of course, a misheard lyric of "Tiny Dancer," by Elton John.
"Much girls" is a paraphrase from "Teen Girl Squad."
Gangsters do indeed listen to Fleetwood Mac in Goodfellas. They listen to "Go Your Own Way," but Ralphie's CD had "Hold Me" on it. Both songs include the cowbell.
"Eyes Without a Face" is a Billy Idol song that I don't own. I also thought the lyrics were "got no human race" until I looked them up.
"At least he didn't run screaming" may or may not be based on a true story, as is the story about chicken pox and getting pushed into an object of affection at a yearbook social.
Wanda's dog, in my opinion, is a Cocker Spaniel/Golden Retriever mix, one of the weirdest mixes ever. It can be seen in "Under Construction."