Jessica checked her watch and nearly did a double-take. It was almost seven o'clock; she'd be late if she didn't get a move on. She got up from her desk and lowered the blinds in her office, then quickly grabbed the duffel bag she'd brought in to work. Within minutes she had changed out of her pantsuit and into a tight blue jean skirt, knee-high black boots and a red silk top. That done, she darted out of her office and into the ladies' room to fix her hair and makeup, ignoring the shocked expressions on her coworkers' faces as she passed through.
Raina and Madeleine glanced at each other and, by unspoken agreement, got up from their desks in unison and followed their colleague into the rest room. They found her at the mirror, hurriedly brushing her hair back. With practiced ease, the younger women took up stations on either side of Jessica. Madeleine leaned back against the countertop and smirked at her.
"Big date tonight?" she asked smoothly.
"Something like that," Jessica replied as she pulled her hair back into a loose ponytail.
"And who's the lucky guy?" Raina asked.
"You two have gotten good at this tag-team thing," said Jessica wryly.
Satisfied that she looked decent enough, she quickly exited the bathroom, her two underlings trailing after her.
"You still haven't answered our question," Madeleine noted smugly. "And don't say it's none of our business because you and Danny pulled the same thing on me last Friday."
"Fine," Jessica sighed, and four sets of ears flared.
"Actually, it's not exactly-" she began, but was cut off by the arrival of Stark's ex-wife, Claire.
"Ready to go, Jess?" she asked cheerfully.
Madeleine and Danny exchanged sly grins behind Jessica's back, while Raina merely looked shocked. Stark, meanwhile, found that he could no longer restrain his curiosity and felt compelled to wander out of his office to pry.
Jessica, knowing full well what was going on, rolled her eyes. "Just let me grab my coat. Where did you want to go for dinner, by the way?" she said over her shoulder as she strolled back into her office.
"Yes Claire, where did you want to go?" Stark asked with an innocent smile, having sidled over to his former spouse's side.
Claire gave him a dispassionate look and poked him in the shoulder to move him away before replying. "We should probably just get take-out. I don't want to risk being late."
Jessica nodded and opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off by the undeterred Stark. "And what is it for which you don't want to risk being late?" he asked cheekily, leaning in close to Claire once more.
She sighed and pushed his face away. "Young Dubliners concert," she replied. "I was thinking Thai, by the way. Is that all right?" she said to Jess.
"I'm always in the mood for Thai," she said cheerfully.
Jessica slung her jacket over her shoulder and headed for the door, playfully shoving Stark out of the way with a flirty grin. Claire quickly caught up with her and linked arms with her, and the two quickly exited before they could be bombarded with more curiosity.
With a happy sigh, Sebastian rubbed the place on his chest where Jess had shoved him. "Y'know, I'm not sure if this is the best day of my life, or the worst," he said.
It was a little after one in the morning, and Sebastian had just fallen asleep when he heard the doorbell ring. With a muffled curse, he threw the covers back and walked out into the hall. A bleary-eyed Julie poked her head out of her bedroom door as he passed. He was about to tell her to go back to bed and let him handle it, and then he heard the singing. It was still faint at this point, as he hadn't even reached the stairs, but it was obviously feminine and most likely alcohol-fueled in origin. He sighed.
"Grab your camera, Jules," he said. "This oughtta be a good one."
By the time he reached the bottom of the stairs, he had identified not only the singers (though this had not been difficult) but the song as well (this had taken some effort). It was an Irish folk song that he'd never liked, and which his ex-wife enjoyed singing or playing just to annoy him. He had no doubt that this was why it was being sung (for lack of a better word) just then.
He opened his front door to find Claire and Jessica unsteadily leaning against one another, smiling sleepily and mercilessly butchering "Tell Me Ma." As much as he hated the song, Sebastian couldn't imagine what it must have done to deserve the treatment it was getting at the hands of the two women in front of him.
"Th' girlsh won' leave th' boysh 'lone. Pull muh hair 'n shtole muh comb…" they warbled, not even trying to harmonize.
"Have a good time at the concert?" Sebastian asked, stepping aside and motioning for them to come in.
The two women managed to get two steps into the house before collapsing on one another, which impressed Sebastian to no end. What was even more impressive was that neither of them seemed to have noticed. He briefly wondered how they'd managed to get up the steps to begin with, then decided that down that road lay madness. He pushed it from his mind and, being a gentlemanly sort, went to find a spare blanket to drape over them.
He returned in time to catch the tail end of a conversation that had probably been repeated several times over on the ride over to his house. He felt a stab of pity for whichever cab driver had been burdened with the task of ferrying them around. He also felt a rush of fatherly pride towards Julie, who was dutifully and meticulously recording every detail on her Camcorder. She gave him a thumbs up while the women on the floor continued their conversation.
"I still carn't believe you turned down Keith Roberts," Claire drawled from her apparently very comfortable position in-between Jessica's breasts.
"Sorry! I'm not used t'bein' hit on by hot Irish guys!" she replied with a wobbly laugh.
"Well you'd better fuckin' get used to it!" Claire cackled gleefully, earning a snort from Julie and a groan from Sebastian.
"Good night, ladies," he said, unceremoniously tossing the blanket over them and quietly relishing their protests.
He started back upstairs without the slightest twinge of guilt. A night spent on the floor definitely wouldn't hurt them, whereas an attempt to help them into the guest room or even onto the couch would probably hurt him a lot.
"S'bastian?" Jessica's voice caused him to pause and turn back.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"How'za…" she paused and snickered, "how's the Hammerhead swimmin' these days?" she asked, causing Claire to erupt in laughter.
Sebastian cringed and massaged his forehead. He couldn't believe…actually, no. On second thought, he could definitely believe that Claire had told Jessica about that. He heard an "Oh God, ugh!" from Julie, and gave up.
"Good night," he repeated, continuing his trek upstairs while trying to ignore the various howls of laughter and groans of disgust coming from the women in his life.
Proper morning came, though Jessica remained blissfully unaware of this fact. She would quite possibly have continued to do so until well into the evening, were it not for the fact that Sebastian decided that blaring Black Sabbath on his state-of-the-art speakers was a good way to start the morning. She yelped and jolted in protest, dislodging the equally startled Claire from her position on top of her. This movement, combined with the music and, of course, the number of beers she'd had last night (she'd lost count after eight), set off the worst hangover she'd had in at least two years.
Mercifully, the music was shut off after only a few seconds, leaving only the sound of Sebastian's cruel laughter in the air. All things considered, it was not much of an improvement.