A/N: Next chapter! Yay. :)
Thank you, dear Pookie-love-beta-person (Stalker), for taking the time to look over my story, and everything. I'm forever indebted to you. :)
I asked my mom what I should give you guys, and she responded with "Strawberries!!!" So, chocolate covered strawberries for my reviewers:
The Darklight Angel
The 1000th Kiss
Don (Hey, you left the anonymous review! ;) )
Maureen stomped into the loft. She wasn't angry; she just loved the sound her boots made against the concrete floor.
Stomp. Stomp. Stomp! Stomp. Stomp. Stomp!
Maureen opened the door and was assaulted by a pungent, burning smell. She held her hand to her nose and looked around for the source. There, on the metal table, was a roll of partially-burned film and a box of matches. That explained the smell, but the reasoning behind it was a mystery to Maureen. Mark and Roger sat on opposite ends of the couch, arguing. The diva assumed it was about the film—surly they had run out of other things to argue about?
"Hi, guys," she interrupted them, biting her lip. "Benny wants—"
"Not now, Maureen," Mark waved his hand dismissively at her, not looking up. "Rog… I know this has been hard for you--"
"Hard?" Roger snorted. "It's fucking Hell. I found it—no, wait, it found me."
"Stop exaggerating!" Mark snapped, clutching his camera protectively. "You act like you're the only person here! Don't you think it's been hard for me, too?"
"Your girlfriend is still alive." Roger said, childishly turning away from him. "You don't need smack; your body doesn't hurt all the time. You aren't about to die."
Mark sighed. He had nothing else to say; they'd had this conversation umpteen times.
"Hey," Maureen interjected, "Benny wa—"
"And what's more!" Roger said, clenching his hands together. "You don't have a scarf-wearing, mothering, goddamn annoying roommate who tries to run your life!" Mark looked like he could cry.
"I don't try to run your life…" he protested weakly.
"Why couldn't I burn it, then?" Roger asked, gesturing to the film and matches. "It's mine."
"It was Apr—hers." It was forbidden to say April's name. Nobody had said it aloud since the day they put her, lifeless, in the ground. "I have as much claim to it as you; I made it for her."
Roger opened his mouth, but no sound came out. Finally, he laid his head in his hands—the epitomic sign of defeat. Maureen rolled her eyes and said, "Nobody is going to listen to me, right?" Not surprisingly, there was no answer. Maureen shrugged and walked over to the telephone, picking it up and bringing it to the linen closet, where she would have minute privacy. She dialed Joanne's number, tapping her fingers on the wooden shelving impatiently.
"Hello, Joanne Jefferson speaking. Who is calling?" Joanne answered curtly. Maureen heard rustling in the background; Joanne must have been writing something.
"Hey Joanne, it's me!" Maureen smiled into the phone.
"Oh, hi, Maureen," Joanne said happily. The rustling noise stopped. "I was just wondering when you'd call me; it's been almost twenty-four hours, and that would be a personal record." Maureen giggled.
"You're just fun to talk to. You're a good listener… I know I can trust you." Joanne chuckled.
"Thanks. Now, was there a specific reason you wanted to call me, or did you just want to hear the sound of my voice?" Joanne snorted; Maureen laughed.
"Both, maybe? Last night was just horrible; mind if I rant?"
"Not at all. Wait, hold on. Radames! Get back here." There was more scuffling in the backround, and a muffled yowl. "Sorry, my crazy cat decided that important papers are his new favorite toy." Joanne laughed. "Anyways…"
"So. My life sucks." Maureen sighed, curling up in a tight ball so she could fit on top of her threadbare winter blanket. She fit—barely.
Joanne hissed sympathetically. "What happened now?" She asked. There was a chomp noise that crackled over the phone; Maureen assumed it was Joanne biting down on the end of a pen.
"I'd have to do backflips in a dish towel to get Mark or Roger to notice me." Maureen fumed. "It's really getting on my nerves."
"I imagine so!" Joanne sympathized. "It's getting on my nerves, and it's not even happening to me."
Maureen smiled, glad that Joanne understood. "And then I bumped into Benny last night—you know, the one I'm writing my protest about? Yeah, him. He wants rent! And he told us we were free… to grieve for April, and get Roger back on his feet and everything. That fuck!"
"That's just rude; downright rude," Joanne said angrily. "I can't believe you used to live with him."
"He was a different guy, back then," Maureen sighed, remembering. "He and I used to always play pranks on Collins… and then Collins and I would always play pranks on him. They double-teamed me, a few times… I'd wake up and find my underwear hanging from the windowsill, or fake blood on my clothes. Those were the days!"
"I bet," Joanne said enthusiastically. "You should write a book about your life; I'd definitely read it."
Maureen's smile slid into a frown. "But it doesn't have a happy ending…" she muttered. "All stories need to have a happy ending."
"No they don't," Joanne disagreed. "They could have sad ones."
"But only really good books have happy endings."
"What about Romeo and Juliet? That had a sad ending, and it was good."
"I didn't like it." Maureen rolled her eyes. "Therefore, it was bad."
Joanne laughed. "Nu-huh."
"Maureen?" Mark called from the kitchen. "Where are you?"
"I'm in the closet!" She called back. "I'll be out in a minute!" Mark didn't respond.
Joanne laughed into her phone. "You're in the closet? Whatever for?"
"Privacy, what else?" She laughed too; Joanne's was infectious. It was warm, and light, but with a hint of gravel to it. Maureen loved it.
"I wouldn't know," Joanne chortled, "I've never hung out in a closet before." That isn't true, she thought to herself.
"Well, it's fun. You could hang out in mine, if you want!" Maureen sniggered.
"No, thanks," Joanne said quickly, her dark cheeks blushing. She was glad Maureen couldn't see her.
"Oh…" Maureen trailed off. "Can I finish my rant now?"
"I have to go now, actually," Joanne said. It wasn't a lie, exactly: Radames's new favorite toy wouldn't write and/or file itself.
"Oh," Maureen sighed sadly. She had hoped that Joanne would stay on the phone longer; the drama queen needed to talk to someone, and Joanne was cheaper than therapy.
"Hush," Joanne rolled her eyes. "How about we go out to dinner soon? That way, you can talk and I can listen, and I can have a piece of chocolate cake in the process!" Maureen couldn't help but laugh.
"Sounds good! When—and where—should we meet?"
"How about tomorrow—no, two nights from now--at this lovely little bistro with the most amazing chocolate cake." Joanne said, twirling a pen around her fingers.
"Sure," Maureen bit her lip. "Tomorrow's tomorrow is so far away, though…"
"Keep your chin up," Joanne said, "and be glad you don't have to work. Or go out to dinner with your parents, who are still convinced they need to find you the perfect date."
Maureen snorted. "Mine were like that, too, until I found Mark."
In Joanne's house, Radames knocked down a vase, causing Joanne to say:
"Damn! Rada! I've got to go, Maureen--I'll see you later! Bye." She hung up. Maureen remained a few moments longer, trying to ignore the fluttering sense of déjà vu in her stomach. A dinner date… let's hope this one goes a bit better.
A/N: Guess what, readers? In a few days, I'm being dragged to go visit my other set of grandparents. For two weeks. Unbelieveable, no? I'll update when I come home. Sorry they are so sporatic!