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Summary: Spencer and Hayley have been best friends since high school. Fresh out of college, they're pursuing their respective careers and sharing an surprisingly affordable apartment in Manhattan. At least, the rent had been affordable, before the landlord gave them an early Christmas present in the form of a pretty steep rent increase. Now they've got to find a new roommate so they can afford to keep their swanky apartment.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Just taking them out for a bit. I'll probably have them back by curfew...
Love on the Rocks
"You're sure we have to do this?" I ask Hayley—my roommate—in an irritated tone.
Hayley nods. "Unless you want to pay almost twice as much rent on your own. Rent is absolutely nuts in this city. There's no way we could afford to keep the apartment. We'd have to move.
Hayley's right, I know. We won't leave the apartment. It's perfect. I also know that neither of us can afford the new monthly payment the landlord had surprised us with. We're both 22, right out of college, in New York City, trying to 'make it'.
"It'll be fine, Spence. You know we hardly use the third bedroom anyway," Hayley says sipping her caramel macciato with a double shot of something-or-other.
She is, once again, right, though. We live in a spacious three bedroom apartment downtown. The only time the third bedroom is actually used is when one of Hayley's boyfriend's friends is too drunk to actually get himself home and has to crash on the inflatable mattress. (Which is always conveniently stored in the closet, something like a drunk man's Murphy bed.)
Still, I'm not at all excited about this whole 'let somebody we don't even know live with us,' thing.
"What if..." I try to think of one of the seemingly endless number of things that could be very, very wrong with our new 'roomie'. "What if she-"
"Spencer, don't even start."
"You don't agree that Bon Jovi every night would be annoying?" Annoying is an understatement, I'm sure.
"Nobody listens to Bon Jovi, Spence."
"Have you met Clay?"
"Your brother's only a few steps above pocket protectors and coke bottle glasses." She says, rolling her eyes. "He doesn't count. And I doubt that even he is that...nerdy."
"Guess you haven't seen his calculator tie," I mumble, then fall silent, scanning th coffee shop for whoever it is we're supposed to be meeting.
"What's her name?" I ask, yawning.
"Ashley. Same as it was the first six times you asked me."
"Well, Ashley's late." I look at the clock on the wall, irked that we've been waiting for almost 10 minutes. This is totally a waste of time.
"Chill out, Spence. She'll be here."
As if on cue, a small brunette enters the coffee shop, looking somewhat frazzled. She appears frustrated as she runs a hand through her curly brown hair, looking around the room frantically, probably afraid we'd just given up on her. Something that, in my opinion, we should've done five minutes ago.
"That her?" I ask indifferently, nodding in the girl's general direction.
"Yes. Now, be civil." Hayley narrows her eyes for emphasis.
I respond with an uninspired eye roll, a personal favorite of mine as far as silent communication goes.
"Ashley!" Hayley waves her arm in the air as she tries to capture Ashley's attention.
In my opinion, she looks completely and utterly moronic. I'd tell her so, too, if a relieved smile hadn't just spread across Ashley's face as she makes her way towards the table. I'll tell her later, when she can't kick me under the table.
"You look like a moron, Hales."
Or not. I would kick myself inwardly for blurting something like that out in public, but I'm just not that kind of person.
Hayley glares at me, and there's a sharp pain in my shin, courtesy of her over-priced shoe-clad foot.
"Mother fucker," I grumble, as if I didn't know it was coming.
"Nice to meet you, too," says a voice to my right.
Great. She's funny too.
I don't necessarily mean to glare at her. But judging from the look on her face, she gets the message. At least she's a little bit perceptive. Getting her to stay out of my shouldn't be too much of a problem.
"Hi, I'm Hayley," Hayley smiles, extending her hand.
"Ashley," she grins as she takes Hayley's hand, shaking it.
"And this bucket o' sunshine is Spencer," Hayley says for me, and I give a half-assed wave in her general direction.
Ashley nods slightly in acknowledgment, matching my half-hearted demeanor.
For a moment, I'm a little shocked. Where does she get off, half-assing introductions, when she's moving into my apartment?
Okay, our apartment, but still, I'm irritated. She should be begging for acceptance or something. I'm the one that's got a secure living space. Whether or not I choose to half-ass anything—or anyone—is entirely my decision. I could pay at least the next two months' rent by myself, anyway. I don't answer to anybody (with the exception of Hayley and a few suits at the studio), but there's no way I'm letting her stay in my [our] apartment. Nobody nods in acknowledgment to me.
"Sit, sit," Hayley shoves my copy of the New York Times onto the over-sized chair behind her.
"Hey! I was reading that!" I say, my irritation level rising as Ashley sits down.
"Spencer, looking at the pictures doesn't constitute 'reading' it." Hayley shakes her head and turns her attention towards Ashley.
So what if I like the pictures in the Arts section? I had planned on reading the movie reviews...I think.
"So, we live in a three bedroom on 8th. Rent would be $1200 a month. Between the three of us, that'll cover the landlord's new price." Hayley was always one to jump right into the gory details.
"Nice neighborhood. And that sounds fine. How much for groceries? 250? 300?" Ashley asks nonchalantly.
Hayley and I look at each other for a moment. We hadn't really considered groceries. We'd always just switched back and forth on food duty. With three of us, though, that probably isn't practical.
"$300 a month?" Hayley questions. I don't think Ashley catches the slightly shocked tone in her voice.
"Yeah, is that alright?" Ashley bites her lip, looking uncertain.
Hayley's surprise dissipates rather quickly. "Sure." I don't think she knows what else to say.
Expensive beer, here I come.
I swear that stepping out into the street and in front of a fast-moving taxi has never sound so tempting.
They're (Ashley and Hayley) discussing the musical styling of 'Danger Davies.' I hate that guy. And his music's awful.
"His 1982 record was definitely his best," Hayley says confidently.
Ashley shakes her head, though. "Armed and Dangerous was good, but have you heard The Cradle Chronicles? The highlight of his career."
"Closer to '86, but I'll give it to you." Ashley grins.
As if the '80's had been so interesting. I roll my eyes.
Hayley laughs, "I don't think I've ever met another long-time Danger fan before."
Ashley looks thoughtful for a moment. "'Long-time fan' is almost an understatement," she laughs.
"Oh, do tell. How long have you been on the EnDangered List?"
God her jokes are lame.
"I guess you could say I've been a fan of the guy since birth.
Uh, yeah right. As if she came into the world wailing the opening notes to one of his [too] many Billboard Hits.
Hayley laughs as she pushes through the revolving door to our building.
"Whoa. Swanky place," Ashley says appreciatively as she looks around the marble-floored lobby, her surprise evident when she sees the large stone fountain. As if she though we might live in a really expensive tenement. Admittedly, I was dressed in a pair of too-big, fading hospital scrubs (courtesy of Hayley, who was interning at a big-time New York Hospital) and one of my torn sweatshirts from high school. But just because I don't dress up for a forced meeting with a roommate who's arrival I'm dreading doesn't mean I'm living in a box under the overpass.
Less than half an hour in and I already kind of find her extremely annoying. True, I found almost everyone—aside from Hayley a select few of our friends--'annoying', but the thought of living with this Danger Davies-loving stranger (okay, anyone, really) irritated me.
"Spence isn't a Danger fan," Hayley casually presses the button for the elevator. "In fact, she's closer to an anti-Danger activist."
Ashley looks at me curiously. "Why's that?" she continues to look at me.
I kind of want to tell her to quit the staring, but I decide there'll be plenty of time for open hostility and passive aggressive remarks after she moves in.
I shrug instead. "I think his music's contrived and commercial under the guise of being deep and revolutionary," I say nonchalantly. "He's a rock star. There's a certain point at which he can't be credited for writing anything remotely realistic. By 2001, he hadn't lived the 'normal life' outside of 'rock 'n' roll' for 30 years. But the name of track 7 on his record from that year? Normal Life, which was so cliché. It was all about living like 'piece of a larger puzzle'? Please. The guy had been nothing but the center of attention. It was hypocritical for him to even pretend that he knew what walking around public places and feeling small and overshadowed was like. Almost 35 years after his first release, the record went platinum, just like 6 others before it." I decide to keep my deep satisfaction at the fact that after 36 years, he was well and truly washed-up to myself.
Ashley's silent for a moment as we step onto the elevator, which has finally arrived. She looks thoughtful as she says, "You know a lot about someone you don't like. Release dates, song titles, record sales. It's impressive," she smirks.
I think she's patronizing me.
I'm probably just being paranoid....
Hayley jumps in, trying to thwart the brewing confrontation. "Spence knows a lot about things she likes to argue over. Which is pretty much everything."
I push the button for the 28th floor silently, then watch as the floors tick by quickly on the digital readout thing. 5...6...
Out of the corner of my eye, I can see she's looking at me again.
I probably have something on my face, but you'd think she could at least have the decency to look somewhere else.
Okay, her eyes haven't moved and it's starting to feel ridiculous.
I rush out as the metal doors slide open, not bothering to wait before I unlock the apartment door. I drop my keys into the bowl on the table by the door, looking in the mirror that hangs over it. There's nothing on my face.
It's at that point I figure that she's just kind of a spaz.
"Home Sweet Home," I hear Hayley say proudly as she and Ashley enter the apartment behind me. It 's a nice apartment, and she has a right to be proud, as she did most all of the decorating.
Gallery-worthy lights hang from the ceiling, bathing the entire living room in a soft glow as they focus on several paintings that hang on the walls, courtesy of our mutual friend, Chelsea Lewis. The carpet is white and plush, and it meets the boards of the dark, hardwood floor seamlessly, creating a sophisticated contrast. Our couch is white, too, which is less of a bitch to keep clean than I thought It would be, and pretty comfortable too. The TV is hung from the wall closest to the door, and the wires to our various stereos and DVD players are strategically hidden. Only one thing really seems out of place: my over-sized leather chair and the scarred wooden end table that stands next to it. Okay, so that's two things, smartass. Still, their beaten and worn look doesn't exactly mesh with the contemporary white of the rest of the room. But, I had insisted that they hold a place of high esteem next to the over-priced couch, and Hayley hadn't argued, probably thinking it was best not to challenge me.
Ashley looks around the apartment in what looks to be wide-eyed wonderment, which I, once again, find a little insulting.
"It's perfect," she breathes, grinning.
"When can you move in?" Hayley asks, leaning against the wall casually.
Ashley looks thoughtful for a moment.
"Is tomorrow too soon?"