Veroncia groaned into the couch cushions as she lay prone, cradled by rough fabric and foam.
"You better not be droolin' on my Mom's sofa," Wallace said bluntly, moving her legs to sit down. "I spill water and she notices. Drool, that would get me grounded. And you know you need me to get you files."
Veronica groaned again.
"What?" Wallace asked, curious that his friend had no smart remark.
Veronica tilted her head slightly and enunciated, "I think God hates me."
"Finally," Fernell exclaimed, "twelve years of Sunday School pays off… God doesn't hate you. He loves you." His statement was definite; partly rehearsed, but definitely believed.
"If he loved me, he would not put me in a play, Wallace, much less this one."
"Yeah, about that, what's so horrible? Someone likes you enough to write a play for you, and you think it's a sign of divine detestation."
The blonde made a guttural sound.
"Hey, do that again, you sound like Chewbacca," Fernell teased.
"Don't mock the wookie," she advised him in deadpan. "Seriously, though. God allows crap to the n'th magnitude to rain down on my life, sticks me in a play with people that would walk over my corpse and kick it for half a stick of chewing gum…stop me when you feel the love."
"But V… you're still here. You're still fighting. Whatever you went through, look, I'm sure it was its own corner of Hell. But.. you're here. And yeah, you're angry, and you're bitter, and you are stuck in a play that you'd probably be happy never existed." He snorted. "As twisted as it is, I'm glad you went through what you did. If you hadn't, I might still be stuck on that flag pole, and not consoling my best friend because she got the lead in a play—literally, without trying. Do you know how many 09'er girls would kill to be you?"
Veronica snorted at that, and the corner of her mouth involuntarily raised.
"Ha, see?" Wallace insisted, pointing, "You're smiling."
"Tell anyone," she responded, "and you'll never have another snickerdoodle."
"Deal," he agreed. "You know, you seemed stunned over the phone. What else happened?"
Veronica blew at the hair impeding her vision, stalling. "You know that cliché, desperate times call for desperate measures?"
"…why did a cold chill just run down my spine?"
"Because you're sitting near a vent?"
"That ain't it."
"Okay… I wasn't the only draftee to the play."
"You told me about your ex, and that girl Mac hanging out with Dick."
"Yeah… did I mention that it's a romantic comedy?"
"Yeah, then you hung up… what's so bad about a chick-flick play? I mean, it's cheesy, but I'll be there opening night to show my support."
"And I love you for it. But Wallace… I didn't tell you who the male lead is."
"It's not Duncan?"
"Okay, since it's not king of the 09'ers, who exactly are you flirting with in front of the entire drama department of Neptune High?"
"Logan…Logan…" After two false starts, you could see the moment of clarity behind Fernell's wide eyes. "Logan Echolls? The man in whose locker a bong just so mysteriously appeared, Logan? The same guy that swore vengeance, took out your headlights with a tire iron, and would rather get pulverized than apologize…. Does he have a good twin somewhere?"
"People have been wondering that for years."
"I'm beginning to agree with you; just what did you do to piss off a loving God?"
"I dunno; you'd think I'd remember something that big."
"Psh," he agreed and nodded.
"Anyway, to get back to the desperate measures-"
"Wait, I thought the thing with Logan-"
"Oh, no, that was just the jumping-off point."
"Which is, of course, a metaphorical term," Wallace tagged on.
"I'll keep that in mind," she answered with a smile. "Anyway, when we found out which part he plays, he and I kinda came to an agreement."
Wallace jumped up, ran to a window, and stared outside.
"What's up?" Veronica demanded, her PI instincts kicking into gear.
Wallace shook his head. "Just looking for flying barnyard animals."
"Hey, I didn't finish my story," she complained. "It does eventually make sense."
Wallace shrugged, willing to take her word on faith. "So, what makes this alleged sense? He doesn't try anything stupid and you won't destroy him?"
"Even better and a lot more in character; it's a mutual aggression pact."
Visions of the bikini island tests danced in Wallace's head. "That doesn't sound good."
"We're temporarily joining forces against whatever poor deluded soul thought it might be fun for us to be romantically involved in any way, shape, or form."
"Okay, the world makes sense again." He smiled slightly, resuming his seat next to Veronica. "Do I get to see Papa Mars threaten your new guy with a sawed-off shot-gun? Or is that just when rehearsals start?"
"Wallace, no. I'm still campaigning for the power of suggestion in the play."
"Back to the world ending…"
"Well, I figure if I play my cards right, the curtain'll close before I have to lock lips with him."
Wallace nodded. "I vote for the non-apocalyptic one."
"Yeah…" she sighed, and leaned back into the couch. "I just need to find out who wrote it."
"Yeah. A person like that is a menace to society…" she grinned evilly. "I think this deserves a unique Mars touch."
"…just a thought here, Veronica. They could be innocent, and being used."
Veronica snorted. "Then they need an MRI; they changed my character's name, Wallace."
Wallace thought a moment. "This calls for coffee, doesn't it?" At the blonde's nod, he sighed, and raised himself from the cushions. "One all-night plotting session, comin' up."
"You are the best friend ever!" she declared, sinking back into the couch. 'But the question remains,' she told herself, 'who's our Shakespeare?'