Disclaimer : I don't own Level 9, or its characters, but I do like writing about them.
Author's Note :
On with the show! (oh, if only it hadn't been canceled...)
The Wizard of 9 : Broken Heart
Jack Wiley entered Level 9 headquarters, one of his trademark grins spread across his face. Today was a good day. Today he had a surprise for Annie Price, Level 9's undisputed leader and all-around bitch.
Roland Travis caught sight of the grin - an eery grin at that. Travis had to look away, lest it should prove to be the contagious kind of eery grin.
"Aw, come on," Wiley's grin widened - it actually widened. Travis tried not to cringe. "I'm in a good mood. I'm happy, I'm content - "
"None of which merits being called 'Junior'."
"Yeah, well, you've never creeped
me out before, Wiley
"I'm creeping you out?" but the grin remained as it was.
Sosh entered the scene, tearing Wiley's attention from Travis. Travis arched his eyebrow at the sudden change in the other man. Sosh walked by, a disk in hand, not taking notice of her co-workers. Not even when Wiley's head followed her, his eyes roaming.
"Mornin', Sosh," Wiley called after her.
She turned to face him. "Oh, hey, Jack. What's up?"
Travis took this as his chance to escape. He hurried to his computer, but was intercepted by Jargon, who was standing on the stairs and therefore blocking the way.
"'Scuse me, Dude," Travis tried to get past him.
Jargon did not hear the other, however. In fact, he hadn't even noticed travis bumping into him. Jargon's mind was elsewhere, on more important things.
Sosh - his Sosh - was flirting - that's flirting - with Wiley.
And for some reason Jargon was now imagining Level 9 in The Wizard of Oz.
Is that sane? Well, no, not really, he admitted to himself, but that did not matter because Sosh was flirting with Wiley.
Yes, Jargon could see Sosh as Dorothy, in that cute blue-checked apron-y thing skipping down the Yellow Brick Road, with Wiley - the Cowardly Lion - in tow.
Oh, the humanity.
Travis blinked at Jargon. He followed the other's line of sight straight to -
Sosh flirting with Wiley. And was that -
Yes, Wiley was flirting back.
Whatever they were discussing had the pair very animated. Both were talking with their hands, and using exaggerated expressions.
Travis tried again to get Jargon's attention, even if it was just long enough so he could get past. That's all he needed, just a minute to get away from these people, and back to the safety of his computer. An inanimate object incapable of any feelings. That's what Travis needed right now. "Jargon, you can be all the jealous you want after you shift a little to the left."
Jargon's eyes flicked down on Travis, standing a step below him. He had not even been aware of the other's presence. And now that he was ... "You're the Scarecrow,"
Travis' eyebrows shot up. "What?"
"You're the Scarecrow," Jargon repeated in the same bland tone.
"Uh, gee, and I'm s'posed to stay away from narcotics. Dude, you're totally fried." Travis did not try to stifle his laugh. "Share the wealth, man."
"I'm not fried," Jargon looked back at Sosh and Wiley. "I'm comparing."
"Not just you. Look," he
nodded in the direction of his least favourite couple as of now
"I see," Travis observed his companion momentarily. "And I'm - "
"The Scarecrow," Travis sighed. "Why?"
"'Cause you're odd,"
"And i need a brain? Is that what you're trying to tell me?"
"Wha - no,"
"I have straw-like qualities?"
Jargon shook his head. "Scarecrow's just the only one left. See, Price is the Tin Man, 'cause she has no heart. Tibbs is Glinda 'cause he's a goody two-shoes. Hooten's a Munchkin 'cause he's creative."
"And you are?"
"Toto. Faithful to Sosh - Dorothy. And that damn Lion's marching on my turf."
"Riiight," Travis glanced over his shoulder again. "Well, it looks like he'll soon be shagging your tree. Can I get up there now?"
Jargon's eyes went wide with horror as Travis pushed past him. "They're just talking," he said quickly.
"Oh, please. They've been 'just talking' for at least a week, Jargon. Where have you been?"
The other's face fell. If that was true, how could he have not noticed? No, Travis must be making it up. But he seemed completely positive - well, only fools were positive, and Travis was no fool - wait, what did that have to do with it?
Travis could see that Jargon was distraught, and that he had not noticed the excessive interaction between Sosh and Wiley over the past little while. He now realized how deeply his companion felt for Sosh. This was truly heart-wrenching for Jargon. Travis felt obligated to say something comforting, something uplifting, something...
He tried to put himself in Jargon's shoes. How would he feel if his best friend whom he had a crush on started dating some guy she barely knew? Travis sighed, glad that he had never had problems with women, or telling her how he felt about her. He had never been shy. He saw no point in it.
But back to Jargon. What could he do? "Dude, maybe you should talk to her and just tell her that you like her."
"I can't do that. I've tried for years."
"So, try again," Travis folded his arms across his chest.
"And what if - "
"Okay, fine. So, what do I say to her?"
"Oh, I dunno. Sosh, I'm in love with you may be a little not your style."
"Is that how you do it?"
"Hell, no. But you know her
"And what if I don't?"
Travis pointed at Sosh just as she was throwing her arms around Wiley's neck.
* * *
Jargon threw another sidelong glance at Sosh. She had noticed each and every one of those glances, but was still unsure of what they meant. She knew he had seen her and Wiley earlier. That hug must be what's bothering him, she guessed, but he had not said anything. He just kept giving her looks. Something was on his mind, something that he appeared to want to tell her. So why wasn't he? They had never had secrets - not since she told him about her past employment as an online stripper, to put it bluntly. What was he hiding?
Jargon gave her Sosh another sidelong glance.
"Alright, what is it, Jargon? Those looks are getting on my nerves. You wanna say something? Say it already."
Jargon tried not to look guilty, as he said, "Nothing,"
"That's crap, and I know it." He still remained silent. "Come on, Jargon, you know you can tell me anything. Why is it suddenly so hard to do?"
"Because," the other sighed. "It's never been anything like this before."
"Like what? Talk to me,"
He met her eyes briefly.
"I don't know how to tell you this." Jargon chuckled
slightly. "Travis said it would be easy and that I'd know
"Jargon, wha - "
"Sosh, we've known each other for a long time, and during that time we've become really good friends, and oh God that sounds lame." Jargon stopped himself.
The beginning of a smile touched Sosh's eyes as understanding set in.
"Look, Sosh, what I'm trying ta tell ya is that I like you."
"Well, I like you, too, Jargon."
"Yeah, but I really like you - like, love you like you. Okay, that just sounded stupid, but - "
"I get the picture, Jargon. But I - "
"Like Wiley," he finished, looking away. Dammit.
"I wanna give him a shot, yeah." she admitted.
"But he's so old."
"Age doesn't matter to me."
"Are you sure he feels the same way?" Sosh nodded. Jargon sighed sadly, "Oh,"
She squeezed his hand. "Are you going to be okay with it?"
Jargon could not bring himself to meet her gaze. "I guess I have to be."
She hugged him. "Thank you,"
"I gotta go. Dinner,"
"With him?" he could not speak Wiley's name.
"Yup," she logged off her computer. "See ya tomorrow. Unless something comes up later tonight." Sosh furrowed her eyebrows, hoping that nothing would happen tonight.