ROOKIE BLUE (isn't mine)

ALONE

-o-

"Well maybe you should save your snarky remarks for your morning show," Andy hissed. Her eyes were black with anger. Traci recoiled.

"Hey, easy sis, I was only joking…" she said, stepping closer to her friend. She snaked her arm around her shoulders and gently nudged her. "That bad, hey?" she said softly.

Andy simply nodded, tears filling up in her eyes. She bit her lip, shook her head and shrugged the comforting arm off of her. "Could we please not squabble?"

"I'm sorry Andy, I didn't realise that…"

"No, please, I don't want to talk about it," she blurted in a muffled voice.

"Okay," Traci nodded. "So, why am I here? Need a shoulder or a hand?"

"Both. I mean, I don't really need your help but I figured that I could use a friend," Andy explained. She opened the bedroom door. Her hand fanned the room. "Tah dah!"

"Oh my god! When did you do this?" Traci Nash stopped in the doorway, taking in the heap of furniture stacked in the middle of the room and covered in plastic. "When did you even find time to mask tape the doors and everything?" She turned to her friend with a concerned face. "I could have helped you with moving the furniture… Andy, are you having any sleep, I mean, at all?"

Andy looked around to hide her embarrassment. "No, not that much. I mean, staying here, it's very different from what I envisioned in the first place."

"What do you mean? Funky neighbourhood?"

"Nope. Funky nothing. It's like being back to college without the funky, really. I'm alone in his house, I'm not bold enough to really make it home, I don't touch anything, I don't do anything." She turned abruptly to her friend, talking so fast that Traci frowned. "You know when I got the key, it made feel, I don't know, special. I like the thought that he was reaching out to me."

"Okay," Traci said again.

"It's been a couple of weeks now Trace, and he's not coming back, I know. All my things are in storage, I can't help but feel totally alien to this place. My bag's in the bathroom, my toothbrush's in a glass, and that's the extent of it. I don't want to intrude. I'm just stuck. I must sound like a maniac," she shrugged and her eyes finally met her friend's. "That's why…" she trailed, glancing at Traci. "That's the best I could come up with."

"Okay." She paused. "You sure about that?"

"Yep, I'm sure. It's a no-brainer, really. I took some pictures." Noting Traci's puzzled expression, "to put everything back in place properly," she added hastily.

"Cause you got to be sure, really sure," Traci insisted. "You live for five months in your old apartment, and during this entire time, you drove, what, like half a dozen nails into your walls and collecting cereal boxes sums up the extent of your decorating. I mean, really, you're up to this, like totally dedicated, seriously..." Andy crossed her arms on her chest. "Don't you think that Swarek's going to be furious?"

"Sam won't mind. Look around Trace, this colour is so not like him."

"Not like him? What does it even mean?" Traci rolled her eyes and grabbed a paintbrush from the floor, holding it under Andy's nose. "What can go wrong with beige?"

"I don't know. Beige, it's not even a colour," Andy shrugged taking the scope of the room, "it's… more like an absence of colour." Now that everything had been put away under plastic sheeting, the empty room really looked even more like a hotel room. She couldn't sleep in a hotel room for several months. Not alone, that is. "Can't you see it kind of feels a little like a hotel room… really, you don't see it? I mean it's so safe and impersonal."

"Well, sleeping in Swarek's bed doesn't look that impersonal to me," Traci chuckled. "And I'm sure that he painted his bedroom beige for a reason!"

"And I'm sure he didn't. I think he didn't do anything since he bought the damn house. Look Trace, colour will bring in energy, it will excite the senses!"

"Like you're gonna need it when he comes back," Traci giggled, walking away from her friend to a safer distance. "Sorry, but Andy, really?"

"Are you here to help me or what?"

Traci sighed and dipped her brush inside the paint can, moving it around. "And you call this a colour?" She checked the tag on the can. "Bright Thunderstorm? Looks like black to me. Andy, you can't paint his bedroom black!"

"Why not?" Andy said stubbornly. "Look, it'll be fine once it's on the wall, and I'm having the baseboard in evening mist…"

"Evening mist? Oh boy, I'm so totally out of the loop. When exactly did white become evening mist?"

"You sure you're a girl," Andy piped, "cause you really sound like Dov right now. He gave me the full treatment already when he helped me with picking up the brushes and everything."

"Okay, okay, so basically, you're going to paint Swarek's bedroom in black and white… Do you plan to change the floor too? Maybe put a nice checked lino over the hardwood floor?" she teased.

-o-

Once the frames were back on the walls and the bed to its usual place, Andy sighed with delight. "That's great!" she commented, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. She smeared fresh paint all over her face. "No? What do you think?"

Traci nodded from her seat, swinging her feet in appreciation. "Yep. It's not that bad. Let's put it that way. It's… different," she mused. "It has a manly feel," she added with a large grin. She raised her glass to Andy. "To Swarek's new house of ill repute!"

"Traci, that's not funny," Andy slumped on the bed, her brows furrowed. "Too much, huh?"

"Over the top, that would be the expression you're looking for. But I like it."

"You like it?" Andy took a sip of her Merlot and sighed. "I see what you meant now, I went over the top, didn't I? It's a bit… too much."

"Drastic, that's another word for you," Traci winked.

"He's definitely gonna be mad," Andy punctuated with her glass.

"When do you think he'll make it back?"

"I wish I knew. Best must know something, and probably Luke, but I'm not going to beg. Since Sam trust me with his house…"

"Don't forget his beloved truck!"

"… and his truck, I'll try to make the best of my staying here. I want this situation to be as normal as possible and stay that way. I'm not his girlfriend, we never discussed our feelings. He's just a friend."

"Yeah, right, to Sam Just a Friend Swarek!" Traci cheered. "Listen, why don't you write a diary? I hear it's tight. They say no email, no phone call, but maybe he'll find a way to read it. You could leave it lying around on your bedside table or something."

"Oh… You think he checks on his house?"

"I have no idea! But it's worth the try, huh?"