Cause I want I want, I need I need
Some peace of mind and clarity.
While huge fluffy slippers were always comfortable, the rain sliding down Ema's apartment windows made her toes seem extra cozy. Despite the slight storm outside, the weather was warm, and Ema was stretched out on her couch, her legs bare beneath a pair of tight striped boyshorts. The evening news was on mute; Ema liked the vague company of the TV newscasters, but she was more interested in listening to the dripping rain outside. Her stomach was growling, but she was so relaxed where she was that Ema was reluctant to move from the couch, even to make herself dinner.
Before she could wrestle with her unruly appetite, her phone vibrated so violently that it fell off the arm of the couch and went right on vibrating along the floor.
"Hello?" Ema answered breathlessly, draping herself over the edge of the couch to snatch at her phone before it stopped ringing. "Oh shit, it's on speaker. Hang on," Ema said into the phone as an unintelligible voice shattered the serenity of the rain storm. "Ok, here we go." Ema lifted the phone to her ear. "Hello?"
"Ema!" Lana's voice called from the phone. "What on earth are you shouting about?"
"Lana!" Ema squealed, settling back down onto the couch and pulling her knees up to her stomach. "It's nothing, just arguing with my phone."
"Typical. How's Los Angeles been?"
"Not bad - it's raining right now, but it's actually kinda peaceful."
"You must be freezing. Have you eaten yet?"
"This is Los Angeles, it's never freezing. And I haven't made dinner yet, I was enjoying the silence. Do you make a habit of keeping track of the time over here?"
"Of course! You're my little sister, what do you expect?"
Ema made a quick calculation in her head. "So it must be like, 4:30 in the morning for you!"
"I get up early for work, anyway, and I wanted to call you before you went to bed. Speaking of work, how's it been?"
"Not terribly busy. I've been working on a few cases recently, but nothing big and nothing too time consuming." Ema's stomach growled again, and her fingers itched to rip open a bag of Snackoos.
"What about that Klavier you keep telling me about? Still a jerk?"
Ema's brows knitted together and she paused for a moment. "It's ... different now, Lana. Last time you and I talked, I didn't really get it. I don't think I can call him a jerk anymore - he can be a jerk, sure, but that's not who he is. He's just a guy who's had a rough time."
She heard nothing on the other end of the line except for a few sniffles. "Lana? Are you ... crying?"
"No! It's just - " she sniffled again " - you've grown up so much since I last saw you!"
"Oh, stop making it into such a big deal! I've just had a lot to think about recently."
"I'm proud of you, Ema."
"Lana! You're embarrassing me!"
"Come on, no one's listening. You've always been the impulsive one, so I'm glad you're finally taking the time to think your actions through."
'Some of my actions, at least,' Ema thought running a hand through her hair. "It just comes with the territory of living alone, I guess." Ema's stomach gave another growl, and she twisted around to sit straight up on the couch. "Listen, Lana, I gotta go - I'll call you later this week, ok?"
"Sure thing, Ema. Good luck at work!"
By the time the two sisters had finished exchanging their goodbyes, Ema was already pulling pots and pans out of her kitchen cabinets. She considered herself a fairly decent cook, but it was approaching 8:00 at night, and Ema wasn't sure if her stomach could wait for an entire piece of chicken or roast beef to cook.
Instead, she grabbed a frying pan and a bottle of Tabasco sauce and whipped together the quickest thing she could think of - grilled cheese.
The rain had slowed to a gentle drizzle by the time Ema sat down at her kitchen table, and the lights of the city glowed through her slick misty windows. They gave her the same feeling that she had gotten walking home from the restaurant where her and Klavier had had dinner - it was as if the warmth of the night had somehow lodged itself into her chest and was bravely smoldering there.
'Why can't all nights be as uncomplicated as this?' Ema thought, tracing a finger along the edge of her plate. Alone in her mind, there was no one to answer to but herself; of course, it was never that simple out in the real world.
No, in the real world it was downright complicated.
Admitting that she may have been wrong about Klavier to Lana was hard enough for Ema; admitting it to other people - or admitting it to Klavier himself - was near impossible. To be fair, Ema had barely admitted it to herself. Her emotions were warring within her - after making it clear to everyone that she detested Klavier, she could hardly expect people to take her seriously when she suddenly decided to start treating him differently.
Had she been wrong all along about him? God, that was an awful question to have to answer. Maybe she had misjudged him - 'but that wasn't my fault!' she thought, a defensive spark racing through her mind. 'If he acts like a jerk, he should expect to be treated like a jerk!'
Getting up from the table and dropping her plate in the sink, she decided she would take a shower and mull it over. She always came up with her best ideas in the shower.
"Oh, shut up," she moaned, rolling her eyes as her cell phone began vibrating again.
'So much for that shower.'
Always the multitasker, Klavier had reached a new high - he was simultaneously packing up his things for the night, sipping from a bottle of San Pellegrino, reading over a recent police report, and air-guitaring along to the heavy metal song pumping from his elaborate speaker system. The packing he finished relatively quickly, and the same with the bottle of San Pellegrino. When he had finished with the report, he slipped it into one of the outside pockets of his portfolio and tucked the entire thing under his arm. The last thing he did before he left his office was to shut off his stereo, turn down the lights, and lock the doors.
But he wasn't ready to go home just yet. As he waved a careless goodbye to the building secretary on his way out, he headed left down the street instead of right towards the parking garage.
It was 7:54, and the bus that Detective Gumshoe took home every night arrived at his stop at exactly 8:08, on the dot. That meant Klavier had thirteen minutes to make it several blocks down the street and convince Gumshoe to answer one very important question. The latter, Klavier knew, wouldn't be a problem; the former was a very different story, and Klavier probably wouldn't have made it if he hadn't broke out into a fast-paced jog the moment he left the prosecutor's office.
As it were, he caught up with the detective at 8:04, out of breath and panting. Gumshoe only gave him a pleasant greeting, and inquired as to whether or not Klavier was taking the bus home tonight, too. Klavier gave him a bizarre look and shook his head. Gumshoe was an exceptionally dense detective, but Klavier had come to realize that at times, he could use that to his advantage.
This was one of those times.
"Remember that coffee shop Fraulien Skye used to tell you about all the time? The one she goes to every Friday night?" Klavier remembered several specific instances where the topic had come up between Gumshoe and Ema; she had, of course, never discussed the same topic with Klavier. That was just another reason why Gumshoe had become so instrumental in his plan – and it all hinged upon whether or not he was oblivious enough to spill the information when Klavier asked for it.
"Oh, you mean Natural Grounds, on the other side of the city? Yeah, we just talked about it today, pal! Told me how she was going tomorrow and everything …" The detective trailed off suspiciously. "Say, pal, you wouldn't be planning anythin' fishy tomorrow, would ya? Spyin' on Detective Skye or anythin'?"
"No, no, nothing like that," Klavier said, flashing his most charming smile at Detective Gumshoe. "I was only wondering. Anyway, you've been a tremendous help, detective. Thanks for your time." They shook hands, and then Klavier turned back towards the parking garage.
It was time to set his plan in motion. But first, one more phone call had to be made.
"Hello?" Ema said into the mouthpiece of her phone, leaning against the wall to glare at no one in particular. She didn't normally have a problem with phone calls, but she was grumpy and irritable, and she had no idea who would be trying to contact her that such a late hour of the night. Then she realized she hadn't bothered to check the caller ID, and waited sheepishly until the voice on the other end identified itself.
"Fraulien! I hope I'm not interrupting anything."
"N-no," Ema said, thoroughly shaken. After spending an entire evening working out her feelings towards Klavier, he had suddenly decided to take the liberty to call her. If his plan was to catch her off guard, he had certainly succeeded.
"Good – I would hate to be a bother. How was your day?"
'Is this what he called me for? Small talk?' Ema stood frozen against the wall, afraid to move – as if any small movement would make her heartbeat loud enough to be audible to Klavier on the other end of the phone. "Fine, Klavier. Why did you call me?"
It sounded abrupt, but that was how Ema wanted it to sound.
"Ah fraulein, you don't waste any time, do you? Alright, I'll bite – I did have a reason for calling you tonight."
"So spit it out." Ema was getting more irritated by the minute – talking with Klavier always made her uncomfortable, and she hated feeling uncomfortable. It meant she didn't have a handle on her own emotions, and Ema hated it when she wasn't in control.
"I – do you think we're friends, Ema?"
Ema chewed on her bottom lip for a few awkward seconds, more to stop herself from saying something dumb than from nervousness. Her discomfort had progressed steadily, and she was desperate to say something – anything – to get Klavier to hang up.
Except she had no idea what to say.
"I don't have to answer your stupid questions, Klavier," she said, her body rigid and her mind absolutely blank. It was as if the world around her would dissolve if she were to move even the slightest inch.
"Come on, Ema, just between the two of us – there's no one else listening. We're friends, aren't we?"
And before she could stop herself, Ema let a small "Yes," slip from her lips.
The next few seconds of painful silence weighed heavily on Ema's shoulders; her mind was playing a strangely distorted video clip of Klavier's potential reactions to her reply. Her eyes were screwed shut, and she absolutely refused to breathe until she heard Klavier's voice again.
"Good," was all he said, in a low voice that barely made it across the airways. There was another handful of silent seconds.
"Why'd you ask?" Ema said finally, almost fearing the answer. Her cheeks burned with an unrecognizable embarrassment; she could rarely gauge Klavier's feelings, especially over the phone – and that bothered her. How could she trust him with anything personal when all he seemed to do was mock her?
"It's just been on my mind." Klavier's voice snapped Ema out of her inner monologue. "But fraulein, I gotta go," he said, "so I'll talk to you later, alright?"
"Sure," Ema said, grateful that the conversation was drawing to a close. "Goodbye."
And she snapped the phone closed and tossed it onto the couch across from her as if it were on fire.
For the rest of the night, as she was getting ready for bed, she walked as if in a trance; and even when she slid under her covers that night and listened to the rain drip against the roof, she was still thinking about Klavier.
She couldn't figure him out.
She probably never would.
Klavier fiddled with the phone in his hands, then dropped it onto his kitchen table with a sigh. Everything had gone as he had hoped; an admission of anything other than hostility from Ema was an achievement itself, but to have her go so far as to assert their friendship was truly out of character.
Something about it puzzled Klavier, but he chalked Ema's reaction up to a change of heart and buried his unease in the back of his mind for later. There was plenty of time in the future for little details, and his brain was filled with plans for tomorrow night.
His guitar was polished. His music was carefully packed away in his shoulder bag. Even his shirt was ironed and neatly folded next to his bed. He had never been more prepared for a gig in his life.
And yet, he couldn't help but feel that tomorrow night would make or break the rest of his life.
(A/N: lalala look I am actually alive not dead as my lack of updates would leave people to believe)