Author's Note: Thanks for the reviews, guys! I've wanted to turn this into a multi-chapter story because you've been so awesome. And also I've been obsessed with this pairing (and show) for the past couple of days.
'So when are we going to meet this mystery girl you've been seeing, Joe?'
Mel's question caused Joe to nearly choke in his bite of rice and he awkwardly recovered as both Ryder's and Lennox' head jerked to him.
'You're seeing someone?' 'You have a girlfriend?' The two yelled out in unison.
'Yes, yes, I'm dating some girl I met at the gym a week ago. It's nothing serious yet.' Joe said, using a napkin to wipe his face and distracting himself from being so uncomfortable.
Mel couldn't help but smile a little as he informed the kids about the woman in question, and the entire 'relationship' – if that's even a way to call it – was merely something casual and probably nothing would come out of it. Of course, he didn't refrain from telling the kids that relationships were supposed to be with someone you truly cared about and he attempted (but didn't convince Mel) to deceive the kids into thinking that he truly cared about this bimbo.
Because…of course she had to be a bimbo.
She's seen the girls Joe has been dating, they've all been the same. Highest education: college. Highest paying job: either waiting tables or working at a callcenter.
Sometimes she wondered why a highly educated man like Joe would ever consider dating these brainless trophy girls (because most of the girls' goal in life would probably be to be a trophy girl to a wealthy man).
She was so caught up in her own thoughts that she missed Joe telling the children when his girlfriend was going to pay them a visit.
Mel stared at her own reflection in the mirror and decided that she didn't look half-bad. She snagged her purse from the bed and exited her room, hearing Ryder's loud snore from the room next to her and seeing a little bit of light escaping from underneath Lennox' closed door.
She briefly wondered what Joe would be up to at this hour of the day. Perhaps he went out for a run. He loves running at 6am. She shrugged him out of her thoughts and started tiptoeing down the stairs, not wanting to wake her nephew up, or letting Lennox know she's awake (and Lennox always had some teenage issue to discuss with her).
She was almost at the bottom of the stairs, when her heart skipped a beat due to the sound of someone exclaiming her name. That someone was not someone she knew.
Mel Burke, the ever so perky Councilwoman was not someone to easily get scared off by someone being obnoxious and loud, since she couldn't deny the fact that it was one of her personality traits. But, as she liked to say, in her case it was an adorable and lovable kind of perkiness.
'You must be Councilwoman Mel Burke,' a young woman, probably in her mid-twenties, rushed over to her, hand outstretched. 'Joseph has told me so much about you. It's an honor to finally meet you.' Even though Mel didn't raise a finger, the woman insisted on shaking hands so she grabbed Mel's free hand and shook it furiously. 'Hi!'
'Hello…' Mel's voice trailed off as she averted her eyes to look at Joe, who was standing safely a few feet away. He just smiled broadly and raised his arms in innocence. 'This is the part where you tell me your name and most importantly, what on earth you're doing in my home!' Mel attempted to cover up her annoyance by matching the woman's enthusiasm.
'Oh! Well, duh!' The woman laughed loudly, smacking a hand against her forehead. 'I'm Tiffy Walters. I'm doing Joe- oh, what am I saying? I'm dating Joe- dating! I meant to say 'dating', doi! I'm so silly.' Tiffy spoke so fast, that Mel needed all of her concentration to hear all of their words, but even then, the words sounded like they got tangled up together as they rolled off of her lips.
'Uh, yeah!' Joe noticed that Mel had a hard time listening to Tiffy (or probably just a hard time appreciating Tiffy's existence) so he stepped forward and placed an arm around the woman, who immediately snuggled up on his shoulder. 'This is the girl I was talking about, Burke. Isn't she something?'
'She…sure is a lot…of words!' Mel offered Joe a look of complete and utter surprise. 'But I was on my way to work, so I should go. It's been terrify- I mean, great meeting you, Tiffy.'
'Well, yes, of course. Same goes for me.' Tiffy responded honestly, placing a hand over her chest, which made Mel notice how unbelievably enormous her breasts were. 'I mean, my life is just pretty frickin' awesome right now. Meeting you,' She gestured at Mel (and Mel couldn't help but feel a little bit of pride rising inside of her chest) and then glanced up at Joe, who was still wearing that big, fake smile of his. '…and of course my big, Italian teddy bear!' She poked his cheek with a finger. 'My girls and I just can't get over the fact that I'm dating like the prettiest guy in all of Toledo.'
Mel rolled her eyes and made no attempt to cover that up. Joe obviously had to notice. 'Hey, she's just telling the truth, Burke! I mean, I've seen what walks around here, it's not always pretty.'
'But then you walk in!' Tiffy exclaimed in her perky tone that was really starting to tick Mel off. She took a peek at the clock, and made a little jump. 'Oops! I've got to go pour coffee for mean strangers.' She rushed to the door, but not before clarifying herself. 'I'm a waitress!'
Mel forced a smile out of herself. 'Of course you are, hun!'
'So…about that meeting you have with the mayor next week, you shouldn't forget to mention-' Stephanie stopped mid-sentence as she noticed Mel wasn't paying any attention whatsoever. Her eyes were staring into space, her face looking puzzled. 'Is there something on your mind?'
Stephanie was surprised at how easy it was for Mel to admit that Joe was on her mind. Most of the times, Mel denied any thoughts she had about her nanny and if Stephanie ever mentioned something that had to do with her theory of how Mel had feelings for Joe, Stephanie had to fear for her job. 'Oh!' Stephanie sat down on the chair in front of Mel's desk, knowing that she had to take baby steps into this topic of conversation. 'What did Joe do…?'
It took a moment before the question was received. 'I just met the girl he's been seeing. And I can't for the life of me figure out what he sees in that woman. I mean, she's just like a walking piece of sunshine.' The way Mel phrased the sentence didn't at all alarm Stephanie, until Mel continued. 'I mean, a piece of sunshine that burns your skin and if you sit with it for too long.'
Stephanie still didn't have much to go on. She couldn't tell if Mel was worried about Joe getting involved in a doomed relationship, or if she was jealous. 'Who do you think Joe should be with then?'
That sudden thought scared her more than anything in the world, and Stephanie shook up a little as she watched her boss twitch in her seat. Oh, for the love of God, what the hell was that?
'Mel…' Stephanie began slowly, still careful not to upset her. 'Is Joe happy with her? Because if he is, you must give the woman a chance.'
Mel nodded slowly, knowing that her assistant was right. But still, there was something in her gut that told her this relationship was no good.
A few hours later, Mel arrived home from a long, exhausting (and confusing) day of work. She's been a bit unable to focus all of her attention at work, dragging her thoughts on Joe Longo in every piece of work she had to do (and mentally kicking herself for it). So it was safe to say that she has been fighting with herself all day.
She flung the back door open to find him standing in the kitchen, preparing dinner. 'Ugh,' she glared at the vegetables, 'please don't say 'salad' for dinner. I'm really not in the mood.'
Joe just grinned at her. 'Evening, Burke. What are you in the mood for then? Chocolate? Candy? Anything that tastes like rainbows?' He was obviously making fun of her, but Mel felt too tired to snap back at him. He understood that, so he just gestured her to sit down. 'Speaking of dinner, I invited Tiffy to come join us, hope that's not a problem.'
'Sure, no problem. She must taste like rainbows.' The last sentence was muttered under her breath, so Joe wasn't sure if he heard her correctly.
'Nothing. But I can see why you like her.' Mel was already slumped in a chair, and her words matched the way she was sitting on it. 'Oh, Joe, you're so handsome. Your abs are so perfectly accentuated by your tight t-shirts and low cut V-necks.'
He immediately knew where she was going, so he had to put a stop to it. 'Shut it.' Joe grunted.
Mel didn't care for his threat, and just continued. 'Oh, Joe, your smile lights me up with the passion of a thousand suns! Seriously, where do you find these girls? They're like a walking Joe Longo advertisement.' She ignored a thought rising in her head of a Joe Longo advertisement, and added a quick laugh. 'I mean, I wouldn't buy that stuff from the ads, I would just Google the reviews. And the reviews would probably emphasize on the good ol' Longo bragging.'
'Wow.' Joe seemed visibly hurt. He stopped cutting the cucumber and jamming the knife into the wooden cutting board. 'You've got a real knack for hurting my feelings, Burke.' When he noticed her opening her mouth again, he interrupted her by going on. 'I don't care if it makes me sound like a little girl, but I have feelings too.'
Mel realized that Joe really did look upset by her choice of words, so she made a mental note to simmer down on the mocking. 'I guess you're right, sorry. But really, I don't see why you're going out with her. She doesn't really seem to be your type.'
'And just who are you to decide who's my type?' Joe smiled slightly. It was obvious that he has already forgiven her and that they're slipping back into their usual flow of back-and-forth bickering.
'I don't decide. But brainless perky dolls don't really strike me as the women who could uh, you know, sweep you off of your feet. Knock you out of your socks, you know what I mean.' Mel avoided Joe's amused glance by sliding herself off the chair. She strolled to the fridge (still not looking at him) and opened it to retrieve a bottle of water.
Joe just picked up his knife and went back to cutting the cucumber, nodding slowly. 'I must admit, you're right, Burke.'
'I am?' she sounded surprised. 'I mean- of course I am.'
'Good recovery.' He chuckled, 'No, I mean, if I do get into a serious relationship again, I'd want it to be the real deal. Someone who I feel I have a real connection with. Someone who-'
'…knows your favorite songs?' Mel suggested.
He grimaced, though she couldn't see it because she was standing behind him, leaning against the counter as she took a small sip of her bottle of water.
'Yeah. Someone who knows my favorite songs. And someone who-'
'…takes you seriously despite you being a nanny and all?'
'Yeah, yeah, stop interrupting me!' Joe quickly spoke up, hearing Mel laugh behind his back, though they both knew that she was right. The knife he was holding easily slit through the green vegetable, and it collided with the wood a few times before Joe broke the silence again. 'I guess I don't mind dating a few beautiful ladies before the so called right person comes along.'
'Oh, well.' Mel put her bottle of water on the counter, and placed a hand on his shoulder. 'Maybe the right person won't have to come along. Maybe she's already in your life.'
Joe fell silent, and Mel eyed him closely before going on.
'Maybe it's that lady from the drug store who keeps looking at you every time you go there to buy my tampons. Or that lady from a few blocks away who insists on greeting you when you're running.'
Joe frowned in disbelief, annoyed at how easily she could turn a serious moment around. 'Aw, come on, that lady's gotta be in her 60's! Y'know what? More salad for you.' He pointed a long finger at her upon his threat and assured her that he was not kidding around.
Author's Note: I find the lack of Lennox and Ryder in this chapter mildly disappointing, so I'll try my best at changing that in the next couple of chapters. I'll also be dealing with why Joe is dating Tiffy and if he's really in love with her or not. By the way, did you guys read the episode description of the Melissa & Joey season finale? I won't ruin anything if you didn't, but yay!