Pink Slipped

Chapter: 1

Rating: PG

Fired. It was a simple word. But it wasn't something any of them were expecting. The station had changed hands several times in the past but no one had ever come in and fired an entire department. But like the saying goes, there's a first time for everything.

Lou had flown in Rhoda and Phyllis to cheer Mary up. And it seemed to be working. All through dinner Rhoda waxed poetically to Mary about New York and all the opportunities the city could offer her. And by the time dessert was served Mary Richards was leaving Minneapolis behind and moving to the Big Apple.

After dinner Lou dropped Rhoda and Phyllis off at their hotel and then drove Mary back to her apartment. She suggested a drink and he immediately took her up on the offer. Ever since she agreed to join Rhoda in New York Lou's mind started reeling.

He had been struggling with his feelings all week and now it was as though they were amplified. The thought of her leaving for New York was almost more than he could bear.

Mary held out a tumbler of scotch. "Mr. Grant." she tried to get his attention and failed. "Lou?"

"Hmm?" he exhaled, looking up at her.

"Your drink."

"Oh, yeah, thanks." he took it from her hand.

She sat down next to him on the sofa. "Is something wrong?" she asked. "You've been unusually quiet ever since we left the restaurant."

"Have I?"

"Very quiet." she replied. "Even after Phyl's political tirade in the car."

Lou took a drink of his scotch. "I guess I'm just a little tired that's all."

"It's been a long week."

"I guess I'll have plenty of time to relax for a while though." he said. "I think I'm just going to take it easy for a while."

Mary chuckled. "Something tells me you won't be out of work for long." she replied. "Not with all your experience."

"Probably not." he said. "What about you? I'm sure you'll find a job in New York in no time at all."

"Maybe." she sighed. "Or maybe I won't like New York and I'll come back to Minneapolis." Nothing was set in stone. Not yet.

Hope leaped forward in his voice. "You think so?"

Mary shrugged. "I'm not sure." she said. "But I'd like to give it a shot. After all if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere."

"I think you'll love New York." a hint if sadness filled his voice.

"Don't sound so happy."

He sat his glass down on the table. "Look, Mary, it's not that I'm not happy for you it's just that..."

"What?"

Lou battled his inner feelings. And eventually they won out. "I just...I hate to see you leave Minneapolis that's all."

Mary smiled, warm and inviting. But there was something more than that, she could feel it. He was holding something back. "What's going on?"

He could barely make eye contact with her. "I told you, I'd hate to see you leave."

"Lou." she thought that the use of his first name was evoke some sort of response from him. "You've been acting strange ever since we left the restaurant."

"I guess I've realized how much you mean to me."

She was speechless. But not completely blind sided. "You mean like, romantically?"

Lou nodded.

"Do you remember how awkward things were a few weeks ago? Do you really think things have changed?"

"I think we were both nervous before." he told her. "We were working together and we were thinking about how awkward things would be."

"I don't know, Lou." she said. "Maybe it just wasn't meant to be."

He was feeling a little defeated. He shrugged his shoulders. "Hell, maybe you're right." he reached for his scotch. "Maybe I'm just grasping at straws."

"I think we're all going through a big change." she replied. "When things in life are changing we cling to things that are familiar. Things and people that we know we can count on."

"Yeah, I'm sure that's all it is." he placed the empty glass back on the table. "I should probably get going. I'm sure you have a lot to do in the next couple of days." faking his feelings was not something he was good at.

"I have plenty of time."

He was on his feet, heading for the coat rack. "I don't know about you, but I need a good night's rest." he was doing that thing that men do. Pretending like nothing was wrong.

"Don't go." she said, following him. "Stay and have another drink."

His coat was on and his hand was turning the knob. "I need to get going." he told her again. "I'll see you before you leave, though."

Mary nodded and smiled slightly. It was all she could do. She just stood there and watched him leave. And by the time she had worked up the nerve to go after him he was already gone. The elevator was already in motion.

tbc...

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