Copyright © 2011 S.A.Milone aka A. Matheson. All Rights Reserved.
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Part fourteen: ‘ Secrets/revelations '
Take your partner by the hand
The touring buses had travelled out to Ireland via ferry after the gig in Glasgow . Some of the crew had travelled with the gear, including the tour manager Pete and George the sound engineer, , but the rest of the usual suspects boarded a flight direct to Belfast the next morning.
Kirstin realised that people were becoming accustomed to her being best buddies with Meg, especially in airports and on aircraft. No-one batted an eyelid when they sought seats next to one another. Yet Kirstin still fought the urge to be more familiar.
It meant the pair shared furtive glances followed by stealthy smiles that had to be suppressed. Yet as the plane took off Megan grabbed Kirstin's hand with gusto, Kirstin's nerves being more than evident. Kirstin was so shocked by the sudden jolt of desire the action evoked, she almost laughed with joy. Taking a deep breath Kirstin laid her head back, closing her eyes and squeezing the hand wrapped around hers. At that moment she didn't care if anyone noticed the way she knew Meg was looking at her.
The small plane that carried them over the Irish sea to Belfast seated passengers in rows of two. Josh and Suze had also become a regular coupling, if a frustrated one. Adie and Laura were very much still rediscovering their romance, Ben was showing increasing interest in Tragedy, Sally the instrument engineer was dossing with Sam the roadie, Kate popped gum into Seth's ear for a change, and Mr Drum and Dr Bass were playing an ongoing card battle of Spite and Malice.
In the game of choose your plane partner, everyone seemed to have it all figured out. Everyone except Jess and Illy that was.
As she boarded the aircraft Jess had intended finding a seat on her own. The plane was far from full and seats weren't allocated. She had plonked herself in the first available seat, sitting her bag firmly beside her, unsociably. All other passengers travelling with them had taken the hint and moved further on up the aisle. It was a shock therefore when a familiar voice interrupted Jess's thoughts.
“Can I sit with you?”
Jess looked up meeting Isla's soft smile with surprise. “Um. Sure, sure,” she said, grabbing her bag and shoving it hurriedly down by her feet.
They sat in silence as the plane powered up, even as it taxied to the runway. Jess had been about to settle into a book, but it now sat unopened on her lap as she contemplated their proximity. She fiddled with her straw-like blonde mismatched hair. Though Control Zed occasionally hung out on Grapple's bus, they had a sleeper of their own so Illy hadn't yet spent much time with Jess on the road. And it showed.
Illy wasn't entirely sure why she had insisted on taking the seat beside Jess. It would have been very easy to find her own, but the thought of doing that, and of not only allowing Jess to sit alone, but of also finding herself alone as a result, made her heart sink.
Illy had spent a good portion of the previous evening getting stoned and jibing with Ben, Tragedy and her boys; keeping company to avoid over-thinking. She had gone to bed and desperately tried not to play the song she was beginning to be sure had been written about her. But listen she did, and the more she did, the more her heart hurt. Whether it was simply an aching for the past, or for an untold future, she couldn't fathom. But what she did know was that Jess never failed to make a supreme impact, and that pretending otherwise was futile.
Illy rolled her head against the headrest to gaze at Jess who gave her a couple of brief sideways glances before finally slowly meeting her gaze in question.
Illy smiled fondly. “I want us to be friends.”
Jess frowned. “We are.”
“No. At the end of being more than friends we seem to have become less than friends.”
Jess shook her head slightly as if she would contest it, but sighed instead. “Isn't that inevitable?” she remarked sadly.
“Why did you invite me, us , on tour?”
Illy expected Jess to steer her down a road of truthful yet evasive flattery, and so was surprised by what was undoubtedly a very honest response. “I've missed you,” Jess confessed quietly.
Illy closed her eyes, a long blink of thought, a small smile playing on her lips. She nodded gently, reopening her eyes and gazing at Jess fondly. “You don't have to book me onto your tour schedule to see me. You know that.”
“I do if I want to see you for more than a couple of hours,” Jess corrected.
Illy groaned internally. “This was supposed to be about the music, about opportunities.”
“It is,” Jess affirmed. “There's no-one else I want to give this kind of leg-up to. But I'd be lying if…” she trailed off.
“If you told me what we told Meg? That I'm not here so you and I…” she wasn't sure how to word it, “can… reconnect?”
Jess shook her head. “I'm not… I wouldn't… This was not a booty call. You told me after last time… that was the last time. I didn't invite you so I could try something on.”
“Really?” Illy wasn't sure if she wanted to believe her or not.
Jess's shoulders slumped. Her Texan accent suddenly tripled in strength. “Fuck, I don't know. Okay? I don't think Illy, you know that. I do . And I fuck things up, and that's why…” Again Jess was unable to finish.
“You're single?” Illy offered with more than a hint of sarcasm.
Jess rolled her eyes. “Yes.” She took a breath, shaking her head.
Ilsa realised that honesty was probably hard in the face of such derision. “You have to talk to me,” she pleaded gently. “Because I need to know.”
Jess began breathing in long gulps. “I thought…” she breathed. “…if I saw you, properly, and I met…” Another long breath. “…the signer…”
“Aud,” Illy filled in quickly. “Her name is Aud .”
“Right. If I met Aud …” Her mouth clamped shut, and suddenly looked incredibly vulnerable.
“Jessica, I'll be honest, I don't really get where this is coming from?”
Jess looked at Illy, her lips pursed for a moment. “Are you happy?” she asked timidly.
Looking at Jess, Illy could tell just how much might hang from the answer she gave in this moment. If her answer was yes, the conversation would end, verbally at least.
“Lots of things make me happy, Jessica. Happiness is related to many things all being right and good all at the same time. If you're asking me if Aud is part of the good, then yes. But you were once too. Life just isn't that simple.” Illy watched as deep regret washed over her ex-lover's face. She felt the pang herself. “We had a torrid, and frankly tumultuous, affair that I didn't expect to last as long as it did. And while I was single, it was fine for us to behave like hormonal morons. But honestly, I thought we had this cleared up.”
Jess nodded blankly. “We do, it is. Clear. I just wanted to know, to see, to meet her. To see you were happy, and…” Jess blew out a breath.
Illy could feel the frustration emanating from Jess. “You're an amazing woman Jesse.” Jess paled at the intimate use of her name. “You mean a lot to me.”
Jess shifted uncomfortably in her seat, her eyes flicking to the gangway like a trapped animal. “I'm a stupid woman, is what I am,” she declared.
Isla sensed it was an all-encompassing statement at this time. She did her best not to read into it too much, and failed. She sighed. “Do you want me to sit somewhere else?” she asked Jess quietly.
“No,” Jess uttered, clearly upset.
“I should be mad at you.”
“I know.” Jess nodded. “I'm sorry,” she muttered. “I'm sorry,” she repeated more certainly, looking at Illy with great sadness.
“So am I,” Illy replied, reaching over the armrest and taking Jess's hand, much to Jess's surprise.
Jess was staring at the hand in hers, teeth grinding. She had no way of knowing the true meaning of the gesture. The owner of the hand was also staring at their intertwined fingers, which she quickly squeezed.
Two rows ahead of them Josh was gazing at Suze who was wistfully looking out of the window. A row ahead of that Laura and Adie were caught in a kiss. Across the aisle Ben was whispering into Tragedy's ear, and a couple of rows in front of them Kirstin was still clutching Meg's hand.
Having her hand held so tightly made it difficult for Meg to turn the pages of her magazine, so Kirstin obliged, reading intermittently and begrudgingly being sucked in at the same time.
“Oh my God,” Meg breathed as Kirstin turned another page.
“Look.” Meg pointed to a small column in amongst a deluge of text where a familiar name was bolded.
“What does it say?” Kirstin asked, reading the title of the column “Out and about in Hollywood and beyond…”
“It says I was caught having cocktails with an attractive female companion in a fancy restaurant in Glasgow .”
There was a sharp intake of breath as Kirstin released Megan's hand and snatched The Enquirer from her. “It does not!” she chastised, having read the article. “Nice picture.” The small paragraph was actually about the band's little political stunt in London the previous week.
Wondering briefly how such an article as Meg had suggested might actually impact their burgeoning connection, Kirstin started flicking more quickly through the pages. “This thing is so full of shit,” she remarked casually, before stopping dead, her mouth dropping at what she saw.
Meg leaned over to see what had caused Kirstin to stiffen. “Oh Christ.” Kirstin wasn't the only one whose jaw was slack.
“George Pratt, Channel Nine weatherman, was arrested this week pending an investigation. The charges? Engaging in lewd conduct of course! With a man, in case you were wondering. We think the announcement of his engagement to Fox prime time Anchor Grace “Foxy” Novello in May of last year was in fact more shocking. Who's he kidding?”
There were a few pictures to accompany the single page article, which included a shot of Grace smiling at her news-desk, and one of her attempting to battle through a wave of reporters. The second shot Kirstin recognised as old, and relating to an entirely different news story, but it did convey the startling reality that Grace was probably going to face when she got back to New York , if she wasn't there already.
“I didn't know Grace was getting married.”
“She's not,” Kirstin answered sardonically. “The story was spun.”
“This Pratt-man was the final straw.” Kirstin flicked his face on the page. Meg hummed in question. “G's publicists were always creating stories to divert the press away from her sexuality. This was one of their little fabrications .”
Meg pulled a face. “He's obviously gay.”
“That's what I said.” Kirstin sighed heavily. “I should call her. Make sure she's okay.”
Meg's lip curled. “You're right, it's a stupid rag,” she declared, pulling it away from Kirstin's hand and shoving it firmly into the pocket of the seat in front.
Yet another small plane, and another cause for concern. Kirstin had done a sterling job controlling her panic this time, but it had not gone unnoticed amongst the other members of their party. Megan waved people's concerns aside, ushering Kirstin away from the aircraft as quickly as she was able after they had landed.
“Are you okay?” Meg leaned her head against the toilet cubicle door, glad the retching had finally ceased.
The door unlocked with a loud click, and as Meg stepped back Kirstin's pale face greeted her, peering around the doorframe, nodding. “Yeh.” Kirstin frowned. “I'm sorry.”
Meg's stomach lurched. “You look awful.”
Kirstin laughed. “This is your fault. If it weren't for you I would have gotten the ferry.”
“Then I'm profusely sorry.” Megan wasn't sure what the protocol was in a situation like this. They had shared a bed, but that didn't mean they were very physical at other times. She wanted to offer a hug, but also knew that Kirstin was keeping her emotional distance, particularly where this issue of plane panic was concerned.
Kirstin moved to wash her hands and face, smiling at Meg in the mirror before quickly drying her hands.
“I guess dinner's off?” Meg pouted playfully.
“Give me a few hours I'm sure I'll find an appetite.”
“I hate being sick, I'm never sick. It's horrible.” Kirstin's normal colour was beginning to return.
“You're never sick?”
Meg found that hard to believe. “Ever?”
The cab they had obtained weaved in and out of traffic towards the bustling city ahead. “On the odd occasion a little too much alcohol has brought on the urge to purge, but as a rule, no. Never from illness. Always self induced.”
Meg was smiling at Kirstin's turn of phrase. “This wasn't self induced,” she pointed out.
“Wasn't it?” Kirstin gazed out of the window whimsically. Meg had no answer. All Meg had was questions. “Do you think we can get away with going to our room later and not seeing anyone all night?” Kirstin asked more brightly, perhaps aware she had made Meg uncomfortable.
Meg looked at her sideways. “ Our room?”
“Well, okay, my room with you in it. I might need some comforting after this ordeal.”
Kirstin rested her head against the soft black leather of taxicab seat, and turned with a sigh meet Meg's gaze. “Yes,” she said simply.
Meg smiled easily in return. “We could try.”
“I'd like that.”
Because, because, because
Kirstin had stayed at their hotel that afternoon. Grapple were putting in a short appearance at a local festival in Belfast , their only scheduled event that day, and Seth and Kate had volunteered to do some backstage footage. Suze had insisted Kirstin get some rest, much to Kirstin's chagrin. Despite the fact that Kirstin had secretly wanted to just lie down in a heap for a few hours, she was irked to know that other people knew she needed to. Even if it was only Suze.
But of course Kirstin couldn't simply allow herself to be a heap, she had to punish herself first by doing paperwork to justify the wallowing that would later occur. Eventually however, she did lay her head down, quickly remembering why she kept herself so busy, because Kirstin's head was filled with things to think about when there was nothing to do. Not least the reason she had wanted to lay her head down in the first place.
Kirstin had not always feared airplanes. In fact, for a long time they had brought a great deal of joy. But as with most genuine fears there was an event that had sparked a dramatic change in feeling, the scars of which were as physical as they were psychological.
Casting her mind back to the day that birthed her ongoing fear of flying was something Kirstin did very rarely. She had been forced to revisit that day over and over in heavy, but very much needed, therapy sessions. The sessions had helped her come to terms with the event itself, but they had not cured her fear of flying. Not that they were intended to. Nobody who knew why that therapy was needed could blame Kirstin Hart if she never wanted to step foot on a plane again.
Kirstin closed her eyes at the memories that flooded her head, safe in the knowledge that she could allow herself a few hours to recover from the grief she knew would overwhelm her. Rolling up into a ball on the innocuous bed in her inoffensive hotel room, she sobbed.
When Suze popped by to check up on her, Kirstin openly allowed her to see the puffy face and red eyes that she had spent a good portion of the afternoon creating. Because Suze knew. Suze was safe. Susannah Bleich knew about loss, just as she knew about survival. But more importantly, she knew why Kirstin kept her grief so private, and therefore how hard it was to have the product of such an experience so publicly on display. Simply said, Suze knew.
And Kirstin knew it was precisely because of this, that she allowed Suze to say things she didn't want to hear.
“You know you should tell her,” Suze told Kirstin gently while providing a vice-like embrace.
Suze nodded slowly, pulling back and allowing Kirstin to sit back down on her crumpled bed. “Unless there's someone else holding your hand at the airport who doesn't know?” Kirstin shook her head. “Hasn't she asked?”
“All the more reason to tell her,” Suze said, lifting her brow. “Did she hold your hair back too?” Suze smiled.
“Excuse me?” Kirstin pulled a face.
“In the toilet?”
“Oh my god. Nothing gets past you, does it? No, I'm trying to impress her, not give her reasons to run! And she didn't replace you, that's still your job.” Kirstin smiled sheepishly.
“Oh, good, cos I was worried,” Suze responded dryly, sitting down beside Kirstin. “Trying to impress her? That sounds kinda serious?”
“We've had one date.”
“So? I'm not sure I've even had one and mine's pretty serious.”
“Yeah?” Kirstin couldn't help but smile. In fact her smile turned to an all-out grin.
“What?” Kirstin held her hands up. “I'm happy for you!” She pulled her feet up onto the bed, hugging her knees and resting a chin on them. “It's like you've been tamed. I thought he was the puppy dog.”
“You did not just say that.”
By now Kirstin was laughing. “Where is he now?”
“That's your job.”
“I know. He's helping. I came to check on you.”
Kirstin narrowed her eyes. “You need to go back to work. In fact, you need to go back to the truck, pull Josh inside and vent your frustration. If you can bring me proof I'll let you off the five hundred.”
“You weren't going to make me pay that.”
“Did we shake on it?”
“Then I was going to make you pay.”
Suze pursed her lips for a moment. “Okay fine. But you should still tell Meg. If she's going to be holding your hand, she at least deserves to know why.”
“She does know why. She holds it because it makes me feel better. I prefer it that way. She's doing it for me, because I ask her to.”
Suze stood to leave. “Just because you ask her to,” she said in wonder. “Not because she's supposed to.” She nodded at Kirstin. “That answers my question.”
Kirstin frowned. “Stop pushing my buttons, go get your own pushed!” She waved Suze away with a flippant gesture before standing and herding a suddenly protesting Suze out of the door.
Seven, not nine
How are you feeling? Still up for a visitor? x
Do I get to feel the visitor? ;) Much better, thanks. How was the show? X
It was ok, but to be honest I lacked focus… and yes, you get to cop a feel. If it'll help. x
Cop a feel? I'm hoping I have permission… but if I must steal it, I will. How long will you be? X
The knock on her door answered that. Kirstin perked up, flicking off the TV and rushing to the door like a teenager.
“Hey.” Kirstin grinned.
“Hey.” Megan grinned back at her. “Um. I don't mean to be pushy, but the longer I stand here, the more conspicuous I am.”
“Right.” Kirstin grabbed a hold of Meg's hand and pulled her in, closing the door behind them. Kirstin caught the unmistakable scent of Meg's perfume as she turned, sending a jolt right through her.
Meg still had makeup streaked down her face, clearly not having taken the time to clean up as she would usually after a show. Kirstin was suddenly nervous. They stood just a few feet apart staring at one another in silence for a moment, until Meg laughed. “Can I wash this crap off my face so I can kiss you?”
“You don't have to, but yes, absolutely.” Kirstin nodded. “Be my guest.”
By the time Meg had returned from the bathroom Kirstin was done with waiting, and waved aside the protestations from Meg that she should probably also shower. Kirstin told her they would get to the shower in due course.
Kirstin covered Meg's length with her body, intoxicated by the woman in her arms, still amazed to think about who it was writhing in pleasure beneath her. The young girl she had known had become a woman, a quite astonishing and very sexual woman. And Kirstin was feeling all kinds of better.
“Oh God,” Megan gasped, as she surrendered once again to Kirstin's touch, her head pressed firmly into the mattress.
Kirstin had always found Megan attractive, and somewhere deep down, even as a young adult, she had understood Megan had a sexual allure, but this pull she now felt, the need to touch her, and hear her cry out in pleasure was quite shocking. Their appetite spoke of urgency, of needing to connect in the only language that didn't require thought, and of making up for a great deal of lost time.
“You're incredible,” Meg muttered huskily into the bed.
Kirstin laughed. “I'll believe that sentiment when my hand isn't where it is.”
Megan rolled over to face her, still breathing heavily, gently moving Kirstin's hand away. “You're incredible,” she repeated with a cheeky smile that caused Kirstin to grin. Meg brushed damp hair from own her face. “And beautiful. You're incredibly beautiful.”
“I'll bet you tell all the girls that.” Kirstin arched a brow.
Megan stared at her for a second. Part of her wanted to shriek, “No. Usually I tell them it's time for them to leave!”
It upset Meg when Kirstin referred to her in promiscuous terms, even if it did appear to be merely a jibe. She studied the delicate features that smiled down on her, deciding it wasn't a debate she should ruin the moment with. “Actually, they usually tell me that,” Meg remarked instead, with a smirk.
This made Kirstin smile very widely, and had clearly been the better response. “I'll bet they do!” There is no ‘they' Meg was screaming inside. “That many women can't be wrong,” Kirstin continued.
Meg closed her eyes, trying to contain herself, locking her jaw briefly and pursing her lips before tearing her eyes back open, looking at a thoroughly amused and now giggling Kirstin and realising she probably was only being taunted. She shook her head. “I mean it. You're… captivating.”
Kirstin's smile slowing drained from her face, until she looked rather more serious indeed. In fact, she blushed.
There were many words people threw around until they were beaten of all meaning, and the truth was Kirstin knew she was attractive, and had often been told she was beautiful, but that didn't stop it being wonderful to hear from someone whose opinion she truly sought. Furthermore, to be considered captivating by the very person you wanted to captivate was quite a thrill.
“That's quite a compliment.”
“You know how pretty you are,” Meg chastised.
“I like that you think it.”
“I've always thought it.”
“Yes. But you weren't a deviant then.” Meg flashed Kirstin a brilliant, but playful, smile.
Kirstin was momentarily dazzled by shine of Meg's teeth, and giggled. “You should have tried to corrupt me.” Kirstin smiled, shuffling onto her back to rest awhile on soft cotton sheets.
“I did!” Meg protested, following Kirstin first with her eyes, then shifting her body.
“Not very hard,” Kirstin complained. “Considering I turned out gay, it wouldn't have taken much.” Not with that smile.
“I lost track of how many times I tried to pin you down.”
“That's how many times.” Meg flashed a frown of confusion causing Kirstin to continue. “I remember seven times when we were growing up where you could have kissed me.”
“Are you serious?”
Kirstin was deadly serious. “Yes. I mean you were always pinning me down or up against something. Or tripping over and falling on me. But there were seven distinct times when, if you had… leaned in… I… I would… have been responsive.”
Meg turned completely onto her side, facing Kirstin, clearly now in the process of trying to recall any of those alleged moments. Kirstin continued. “Lisa's tree house. I was throwing stuff at you and you charged up the ladder, grabbed a handful of berries and…”
Meg was nodding suddenly as the memory sharpened in her mind. They had only been about fifteen. And it hadn't been until Meg was about to wipe the berries all over her next door neighbour that she had realised how inappropriate it was for her to manhandle Kirstin, who was clearly becoming a woman, despite the childish antics she insisted on employing. Meg had been flummoxed, standing there with berries in her hand having backed Kirstin into a corner up in the treetop hideaway.
Meg had squeezed the berries until they'd turned to slush in her hand, and then slopped them angrily onto the wooden floor. “Stop throwing shit at me!” she had exclaimed instead, in frustration. But Meg had never known that the apparent fear in her Kirstin's eyes had far more to do with desire.
“If I had kissed you in that tree house,” Meg told Kirstin. “You would have slapped me, or screamed, or something , just to make my life a misery.”
“You don't know that.”
“Yes I do,” Meg smiled genially. “Even if you had enjoyed it, you would have seized the opportunity to get back at me.”
“If you had kissed me that day, you would have been the first person to kiss me, ever.”
“Yes. And let me tell you something, that would have saved me a good two or three years of kissing people who had no idea what they were doing.”
Meg laughed. “How do you know I would have known what I was doing?”
“You're a great kisser.” Kirstin leaned in to capture the very lips she spoke of.
“Maybe now I am, but not then.”
“I still think you had more practice than me at that age.”
Meg shook her head. “Actually, if I had tried kissed you that day, you would have been my first.”
“Nooo. I don't believe you.”
“It's true! It's probably a big part of the reason I didn't.”
“Hm. Well then, I'm glad I waited. It was worth the wait. Whoever taught you to kiss did a great job.”
Meg accepted the compliment with a blush. She moved closer to hide her mild embarrassment, reaching for Kirstin and kissing her neck. “So, that's the tree house moment.” She kissed. “And there was the stupid shed under mud bomb attack at camp, we covered that.” Meg pulled round to meet Kirstin eye to eye.
“Oh, yes. You really should have kissed me that time.”
“I know. By then I would have done a decent job of it too. When else?”
“The Christmas your mum was away and you and your dad had dinner with us.”
Meg's brow wrinkled. “The mistletoe on the porch incident?”
“We… that was practically in public!”
“It was like ten o'clock, and dark, and everyone else was drunk inside.”
“And there was a clear view of the rest of the street!” Meg exclaimed reaching up and pulling down another pillow for the both of them.
“I wouldn't know,” Kirstin said, accepting the additional pillow and settling her head onto it. “You were in my face, preventing my exit, blocking my view and coyly looking up at the mistletoe.”
“I did kiss you, anyway.”
“On the cheek, that doesn't count. I really thought you were going to plant one on me.”
“You've really been thinking about this?” Meg smiled.
“Yes, I have. The more I think about Buffalo the more… I liked you. And I just spent the whole time in denial, being angry at you, or weird.”
“I was mean.”
“Yes, we seem to always come back to what a cow you were. But I provoked you a lot more than I think I was aware of at the time.”
“You weren't that bad,” Meg reassured her. “Tell me some more.”
“I can't remember them all right now.” Kirstin seemed suddenly dismissive.
Meg ignored it. “You said there were seven distinct moments.”
“What do you want me to do, list them?” Kirstin started playing with Meg's hair.
“Yes, actually, I do!” Meg was enjoying the attention. “I like hearing almost nice memories.”
“Can't you think of any?”
Megan stared at Kirstin, who had raised a playful and inviting eyebrow. Meg could think of plenty of those moments, too many, in fact. More than she would feel comfortable divulging. It was heartening to hear Kirstin had noticed some of those moments for what they were, but she wasn't yet ready to admit just how much Kirstin had affected her as a teen.
Kirstin changed the subject suddenly. “Did you notice that Illy sat with Jess on the plane?”
“Yeh.” Meg cocked her jaw, knowingly betraying the reservations she clearly had about that situation.
“You know, every show she stands in the wings.”
“I'm sorry, Jess watches Illy?”
“No, Illy watches Jess.”
Meg wasn't sure which was worse. “How do you know that?”
“I am the all seeing eye , Megan,” Kirstin intoned mockingly. “I think Seth has a crush on her, and Kate is indulging him. Illy keeps turning up on the roaming footage. And when the rest of Control Zed is getting showered and rested, she's in the wings watching you guys.”
“Okay, stop.” Meg saw Kirstin's brow hike and softened. “I just… stop telling me things I don't want to hear?”
“It's just an observation,” Kirstin replied calmly.
“You're insinuating something. Something I don't…” Meg took a breath.
“I know. I'm sorry.”
“I just really hope they don't do something stupid.”
Kirstin frowned. “Illy's not quite as solid as I thought she was, I have to admit. She seemed grounded.”
“It's Jess. Jess is her… you know, thing that never quite… resolved .” Meg shifted her focus, looking out into the hotel room, her head suddenly in a place she didn't want to recognise.
“Her thing ,” Kirstin repeated.
“Yeh, apparently some people have them.”
Meg wasn't enjoying the rhetorical questions, she turned back. “Yes.” She knew full well what level of doublespeak they were about to be involved in. Kirstin unexpectedly hauled herself on top of Megan, jolting that thought process. “You seem fully recovered,” Meg said quickly, feeling a rush of adrenalin and wanting to change the subject.
“I am.” Kirstin smiled brightly. “Did you ever think we would be doing this?” she asked Meg softly.
“No,” Meg answered honestly. “I thought about it,” she added, before being able to catch herself, instantly feeling heat rise to her face as she spoke. Meg had thought about it a lot.
Meg nodded. She tried to fathom why it was that she was so afraid to reveal these seemingly small things. Yet she knew full well why. It was fear. The more she revealed to Kirstin, the truer everything became. The biggest problem was that part of that truth was a hot American newscaster with whom Kirstin shared a long history: Kirstin's thing .
But of course what frightened Meg more than anything was the prospect that Kirstin might actually feel the same. Pulling Kirstin down for a long languorous kiss Meg did what she always did when she couldn't talk, she acted.
Was gonna go to work but then I…
“Who are you sleeping with?”
Jess was eyeing Meg from a perch she had made of a wall in the back stage area of the venue in Dublin that they were playing. Meg had lost all track of where they were. She had only remembered they were in Ireland because of the accents that surrounded them. They had not seen anything of the country she'd been told about, and probably never would. She would remember the rain though.
Jess waved her hand in the air. “You have that irritatingly healthy glow you always get when you've had sex.” She blew out a lungful of smoke, and tilted her head away from Meg. “You had it in Glasgow , and now you have it here. I don't think you're insensitive enough to be doing Tragedy when Ben has so clearly lowered his sights, so I want to know, who are you sleeping with?”
“Ben could do a lot worse than Tragedy,” Meg pointed out.
“Yeah, yeah, we both know it's a good thing, and it's about time he turned his puppy dog face to someone who will reciprocate. Stop deflecting. You had sex.”
It felt like an accusation. Meg frowned. “I'm an adult.”
Jess blew out a breath. “Jeez Louise, throw me a frikkin bone!” Jess looked over Meg's shoulder. “Meg had sex,” she blurted to someone.
Meg turned with a little alarm to see who might have been the target, or who else might be lingering with cameras. Thankfully it was only Illy.
“Did she indeed?” Illy smiled, rather too widely Meg thought, sensing a possible conspiracy.
“Jess is speculating, I never said anything,” Meg replied, looking again to Jess, who was also grinning like a clown.
Illy jumped up to join Jess on the wall. She was all wrapped up in a warm looking sheepskin coat and she bumped shoulders with Jess, nodding for a drag on her cigarette. Jess duly obliged.
“You don't smoke,” Meg blurted, somewhat confused.
“I used to,” Illy responded. “In fact, there's a lot of things I used to do.”
“You're high.” It was not a question. Meg was not impressed. Less than an hour before stage time and Illy was high. “You both are!” The pair started giggling at her.
“We're adults too!” Jess announced. “Want some?”
“No.” Meg stated harshly. “You guys can be high because if you fuck up, it's cute. But if I fuck up, I make you look stupid. Not that you require help for that.”
“Whoa Mary Magdalene,” Jess intoned. “Chillllllll. I won't ask any more questions.” Jess turned to Illy. “She's antsy.”
“I'm not antsy , Jessica,” Meg snapped immediately realising how antsy she did indeed sound.
“Are you okay?” Illy piped up, actually seeming concerned.
Meg snorted. “I'm fine. Are you ?” Meg had no idea how the two singers had gone from barely talking to sharing drugs, but it was not a good thing she was certain of that.
“We're just having a little fun, Meg.” Illy's soft, almost innocent face served to calm Meg down. Jess however was biting her lip.
“Where did you even get it from anyway? We only just got here.”
Jess gave in and lit Illy her own cigarette as she spoke. “Adie scored it. It's nice, not too buzzy, just smiley-happy. But I guess you don't need a chemical high…”
Meg rolled her eyes, throwing her own smoke to the floor and putting it out with a sharp twist of her foot. She shook her head and turned to leave. Meg was almost through the stage door when Jess caught up to her, catching her deftly by the arm.
“I'm sorry,” Jess said. “I don't… you just usually tell me stuff like this. I don't mean to pry. And Illy and I…” Jess briefly looked back at the woman sitting on the wall, legs swinging. “We're just… we're finding it hard, being around each other. This just… takes the edge off. Please don't judge me.”
Jess looked so vulnerable in that moment. “It's none of my business,” Meg stated. “I just don't want to see either of you hurt.”
Jess raised her chin. “I think it's too late for that.”
Meg nodded with a deep sigh. “Then minimise the casualties?”
“Yeah. I'm trying. Believe it or not.”
And despite evidence to the contrary, Meg did believe it.
It was beginning to be customary for the documentary crew to do a short, nightly interview spot with the band before gigs. It was occasionally on the tour bus, but more usually at the theatre or venue they'd be performing in later that night where there was more space.
Kirstin had started taking the opportunity to leave Suze in charge of the control room, leaving herself to get more involved in the interview aspect of the documentary. Being now so involved in the tour, and so close to the action, she had a good vantage point from which to throw questions, which she did, even when the subject matter was being steered by her interviewee a little too close to the bone for comfort.
“What happens on tour, stays on tour.” Jess smiled sweetly, her statement clearly provocative.
“What does that even mean?” Kirstin asked from behind the camera, watching the footage on a small monitor, rather than through the viewfinder. “I know what you're insinuating, but surely that sounds worse than it is?”
The night's round of questions had brought them to talk about the fans that they seemed to pick up on the road, most notably one that seemed to have stuck. Tragedy.
“Well,” Jess breezed, “it means we have a lot of fun, and few boundaries. And it does sound worse than it is, but only because none of us have any spouses or otherwise serious romantic attachments. So there's no-one to hurt.”
Meg, who was not in shot, but playing cards with Ben on the next table, ground her teeth at Jess's words.
“Is settling down something you'd consider?” Kirstin was trying not to get personally involved in the conversation, but sometimes it was hard to remain entirely neutral.
Jess cocked her jaw and twisted the glass in her hand. “What makes you think I haven't tried it already?”
Kirstin had to hand it to the cocky young woman, her ability with words was not restricted to musical lyricism. She'd managed to turn a subtle verbal slight to her advantage. She'd make a great politician if it weren't for her potty mouth , Kirstin thought.
Kirstin called ‘cut' and thanked Jess for her time, she felt they both needed a break. Meg appeared at Kirstin's side as people started to scatter. “I am really sorry about that.”
Kirstin looked at her, knowing exactly what she was referring to. “You have nothing to be sorry about, Meg. Really. I knew what I was getting into.” But the truth was Kirstin was now asking herself that very question. Just what was she getting into? ‘What happens on tour, stays on tour?' what kind of BS is that?
Meg was watching her with intent. “Honestly, it's fine,” Kirstin repeated as she wound up wires and packed the camera away.
Josh popped by to collect bits of his gear. “You done with this?”
“Sure, sure take it,” Kirstin said with a wave of her hand. She looked at Meg who seemed to want to say something, but was undoubtedly hampered by their very public placement. “You okay?”
Meg frowned. “Yeah. I just… She doesn't speak for all...”
Kirstin barely caught what Meg was saying as they were interrupted by a familiar ring tone. “Shit, hang on.” Kirstin reached for her phone.
“…of us,” Meg finished.
Looking at the caller ID Kirstin uttered, “Oh crap. I forgot to call her. I have to take this, I'm sorry, it's Grace.” She turned from Meg to take the call. “Heyyyy…”
The voice on the other end of the phone betrayed the distance that separated them. “Hey yourself,” Grace burred.
“What's up?” Kirstin began rooting around in one of her bags for some semblance of food, and was rewarded with the discovery of chocolate.
“Do you remember that journalist we met at Serge's party last year?”
Kirstin frowned. “Which party? His birthday?” she asked as she leaned against a table and unwrapped said chocolate. Kirstin noted that Meg had returned to her seat with Ben.
“No, the fundraiser thing,” Grace sounded preoccupied.
“Oh, right,” Kirstin answered, clamping her teeth around her chocolate bar.
“She kept asking you about the short programme at the Dance House?”
“Mmm. Jet black hair, very straight laced?” Kirstin joked through her chewing.
“Yes, her! Can you remember her name?”
“That's Rachel. Rachel Stein.” Kirstin rolled her eyes, she knew Rachel well, and a few of her own words had ended up in The New York Times the week after their last exchange.
“Rachel! That's it. Thank you.”
“That it?” Kirstin swallowed.
“Yeh, we're looking for an intern in the arts section, I thought she might know someone.”
“Mmmm,” Kirstin shoved another bite of Snickers in her mouth, “She's very well connected,” she added again through her chewing.
“You having fun?” Grace sounded amused.
“Sure. It's raining. I have to visit my mother. I'm having a blast.”
Grace laughed. “Well call me when you're back, we can do lunch or something?”
“That'd be nice,” Kirstin answered genuinely. “How are you?”
“I caught a look The Enquirer yesterday.”
“Did you indeed?”
“You want to talk about it?” Kirstin knew that Grace had very few people on her side that weren't pushing her to maintain the charade her publicists created. Perhaps she had pushed Grace too far in the other direction, but Grace still needed to hear an opposing view, even if it was from the main proponent's mouth.
“I'm dealing with it. But thank you. Commit to lunch and I'll tell you everything.”
“Deal.” Kirstin smiled fondly.
“Well, thanks for the name, and tell your Mom hi from me.”
“Ugh, don't even get me started! I'm going to redirect all her calls to you,” Kirstin warned. “Then see how cute she is.”
Grace simply laughed.
The Dublin gig went down a storm, and Kirstin found a new friend in Illy who had decided to stalk Jess more remotely from Kirstin's control room. Not unlike Kirstin did regularly with Meg. Illy's reasonable excuse was that Kirstin had Wimbledon on, and she wanted to catch the highlights, but Kirstin caught the singer more than once staring at a different screen.
Kirstin's attention however was not on her job, despite the advantageous view it afforded her of Megan. The match on screen had been long delayed by rain, and was setting a record for being the latest match played at Wimbledon . Kat Bohm had finally slain her opponent in the semi's with formidable force, and Kirstin couldn't help but wonder just how well Megan had known her at one time. Clearly from the way Illy spoke she had known Kat at around the same time Meg had. There were certainly plenty of tales to tell, and they all seemed to involve women and drinking and general debauchery.
The positively beautiful Ms Bohm was now, finally, smiling at the crowd and signing autographs courtside. When Wimbledon arrived, the tennis stars became uncannily like rock stars, Kirstin mused. But only the majors held that certain level of glamour.
“Kat, Kat, Kat!” screamed the fans of varying ages, in a bid to gain her attention. The coverage cut to another recognisable face looking positively smug as she made her way along the rows of seats in the players box.
“She is so doing her.”
“What?” Kirstin asked Illy, suddenly pulled from her own thoughts.
“Kat,” Illy replied as if clarifying.
“Who is that?” Kirstin asked, referring to the smug-looking woman on screen.
“Her new coach, Josephine Marceau.”
“Ohhh, the French player? I thought I recognised her. You think Kat's sleeping with her?”
“I think - I know Kat,” Illy answered dryly.
“Is Josephine Marceau gay?”
“She's three beers away.”
Kirstin laughed. “Aren't they all?” She hoped her sarcasm was evident.
“Sadly, no.” Illy turned to Kirstin, smiling genially. “But a lot of them like you to think that. And to Kat, most of them are.”
“We sound like pigs.”
It was Illy's turn to laugh. “You ever dated a straight girl?”
“For nearly eight years,” Kirstin responded in all seriousness.
Illy clamped her mouth shut before clarifying. “Your ex, the one who took us all to the party? But she isn't really straight?”
“God no. But she pretty much lives that life.”
“See, that's the thing isn't it? We're more defined by our choice of lifestyle, than the people we actually sleep with. Like Jess, most people would say she's bisexual, but I'd say she was straight.”
Kirstin frowned, not sure how much she was supposed to know about Illy's history with Jess. “But she's slept with women, right?”
“Sure, she sleeps with women, but she dates men. Big difference.”
Kirstin had to partially agree with that. “But her… lifestyle is… very open minded.”
“That makes her liberal, not gay.” Illy turned back to the Wimbledon footage. “It's the difference between a hipster bar and a gay bar. They sometimes look the same, but they're not.”
Kat Bohm was now being interviewed by Sue Barker and, unsurprisingly, Martina Navratilova. Kirstin rolled her eyes, it was like some sort of gay celebrity club, but at least the women on screen were out, and proud.
Kirstin stared at Illy, feeling suddenly in that moment that she understood why Illy had not pursued Jess with any real intent. Illy had felt like a fling, not because of how Jess may have treated her, but because of how everyone else had treated her with regards to Jess, and their being a potential couple.
It struck a chord, deep inside Kirstin, on so many levels. “You know, just because someone isn't in the club, doesn't mean they're not a card carrier.”
Illy looked at her sharply. She frowned quickly. “What's the point in carrying the card if you're not going to go to the club?”
It was a good point, and one Kirstin was perplexed to find herself defending. “There's more than one club, Illy. In fact there's a club called Monogamy that has some real hefty bouncers outside. It's quite intimidating.”
That brought a smile to Illy's suddenly darkened face. “Yes. You have to be accompanied by a member to get in there.”
“That you do. Otherwise you're directed to the bar next door called Celibacy . No fun. ”
Now Illy laughed. “No indeed. No fun at all.” Illy narrowed her eyes quickly. “You and Meg are having fun.” It caught Kirstin off-guard. “I'm sorry, she didn't… I mean, I knew she liked you, and today Jess was pulling her leg and… well, I hope it's you… that she's blushing about. You know what, you don't have tell me, it's none of my business.” Illy turned back to the screen, shaking her head. “I wonder if she can get us tickets,” she mused finally.
Kirstin was shocked to find herself not really dealing with the situation, and somewhat glad that Illy was gracious enough to sense her discomfort. She was intrigued to think that Meg was blushing about their involvement, and wanted nothing more in that moment than to lay claim to being the reason behind it.
Kirstin clamped her mouth shut, realising immediately just how much trouble she was in, and having no idea how to quash the need to confirm Illy's suspicion.
“Kat made the final!” Meg declared, bursting through the door of The Hub.
Kirstin smiled involuntarily at Meg's sudden appearance.
“I know! Isn't it great?” Illy beamed excitedly. “Wait, how do you know?”
“Oh, hey Illy,” Meg failed to cover her obvious blunder. “She texted me.”
Illy pulled a face. “I hate that you're the favourite. Even if I know why.”
Kirstin listened with interest, trying not to read too much into the statement.
“I got four tickets.”
Illy sprang up. “You did? To the final?” Meg was nodding. “Oh my God. Tell me, please , one of them is for me?”
“Sure.” Meg shrugged. “Why not.”
“And it would be rude of you not to invite Kirstin,” Illy added matter-of-factly.
Kirstin wasn't sure if Meg understood the level of diplomacy and tact Ilsa had just displayed with great style, but Meg certainly looked grateful. “Of course.” Meg turned her attention to Kirstin. “Kirstin, would you like to join us?”
“Oh, I don't want to intrude.” Kirstin half-smirked, enjoying the insistent and encouraging stare Meg was giving her. “But if you insist.”
“She insists,” Illy answered, returning her attention to the TV screen and causing Meg to lift an eyebrow.
“Do you want to invite Aud?” Meg inquired. Kirstin felt the tension in the room change.
Illy looked right at Meg. “No. You can ask Jess.” She paused as if expecting a response, as though it were a test. “Aud is in Germany ,” she clarified, despite not being asked to.
Kirstin thought Meg had done a sterling job in keeping her face straight, and her thoughts to herself, and was sure this would be a topic she'd hear more about later.
“Right, okay. I'll ask Jess then. I'm heading off to take a shower. Let me know if you guys are doing anything later?” Meg looked pointedly at Kirstin before she left.
Kirstin felt blood rush to a couple of places. The only thing she wanted to be doing later was Meg. She closed her eyes and smiled at the thought.
The two scheduled dates in Ireland had been a blur. Kirstin felt they had barely landed before they had to take off again. This time her stomach appeared to behave however. Liverpool loomed ahead of the live truck as Kirstin looked over the mountain of dailies she had to wade through. She was learning to utilise Suze's growing ability rather well.
“It won't be long before you're doing my job,” Kirstin commented as she skimmed through the notes she had been left.
Suze snorted beside her. “Are you kidding? They'd have to pay me twice your salary to get me to put up with crap you take.” Kirstin laughed. “Anyway, the higher you go, the higher I go. I'll just hang on to your coattails, that'll suit me just fine.”
Kirstin looked at Suze squarely. “Suze, I mean no disrespect, because you are without a doubt the greatest assistant I could ever hope for, but as your friend, wouldn't you like to produce?”
“I can't imagine working on a project without you, and I can't imagine you not being in charge.”
“That's nice, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't happen. At some point.”
“When you're an executive, feel free to keep me on as your assistant.” Suze winked.
“Oh God, don't get me started. I caught the end of an episode of Melanie Stuart's TV series recently. They had Producers, Assistant Producers, Supervising Producers, Assistant Supervising Producers, Executive Producers, Co-Executive Producers , and you guessed it…”
“Assistant Co-Executive Producers? Are you kidding?”
“No. That role probably went to the punk who introduced Melanie to one of the huge team of writers who have all decided they should have producer status. It's just ridiculous. It means nothing any more. What the hell is wrong with writer, actor, director, producer? Clear roles. I like clarity.”
“Says the director-producer.” Suze smirked. Kirstin batted her lightly with back of her hand.
“Speaking of Melanie Stuart, she and Rachel Macintosh want to arrange an official meeting about our movie.”
“See, that's why I'll never leave you. Our movie. That's exciting. Oh, and speaking of meetings, Maggie Gustov mailed me back.”
Kirstin had forgotten all about Maggie Gustov, the writer who claimed to have bedded most of Grapple, with whom Suze had pursued an interview opportunity. “And?”
“She's in Manchester tonight, and going to LA tomorrow morning. But she's happy to do a piece.”
“Ah shit.” They were due to go to Manchester tomorrow. “Maybe you should go?”
“To Manchester , tonight. Take Josh with you, and a camera. Work on your interview technique?”
Suze opened her mouth, but nothing was forthcoming. She frowned and tried again. “Sure, if you want to screw up a great opportunity.”
“What? You're perfectly capable of asking all the right questions. And you got the gig.”
“I got the gig for you ! I don't want the gig.”
And so Kirstin left Liverpool early and headed to Manchester armed with a camera, on her own, despite her eagerness to provide Josh and Suze an opportunity for some private down time.
The truth was Kirstin was a little apprehensive about interviewing Maggie. For all she knew, Maggie had, for one night at least, been a lover of Meg's, and that made Kirstin feel a little odd. What she was more worried about though, was being the one delving into Meg's personal life like this. And after interviewing Maggie, she wasn't really sure what to do with the information she'd be given.
Meg grabbed hold of Kirstin's hand, pulling her around the corner and behind a curtain. Kirstin, who had only just arrived at the venue, and was still getting her bearings, surmised that they were in one of the sets of wings in the main auditorium. Meg backed her up against the high, cold, black wall.
It was dark but Kirstin didn't really need to see to be able to work out the look Meg had on her face. She could feel the pure energy pounding in just less than six foot of drummer right next to her, and Kirstin grinned devilishly, trying to ignore the work rush she was actually in.
Beyond the other side of the curtain Kirstin could hear the sound of an eager crowd chattering above the pre-show music. The atmosphere washed over her, permeating the situation she suddenly found herself in, which was already filled with anticipation. She wondered briefly if they wanted Meg as much as she did right now. She concluded it was unlikely.
They stood for a few moments just looking and breathing. Kirstin knew it would not be long before she was missed by her crew, who were expecting her any minute. In fact, soon it would become apparent they were both missing. Time was of the essence, and since she was here already....
Kirstin reached a hand around Meg's neck and pulled her closer. It was the only impulse Meg needed as she reacted, closing the gap and kissing her hard. Kirstin responded with equal vigour pressing her body against Meg's with a sense of urgency. Neither wanted to be the first to pull away and this resulted in many small stolen kisses through which they both eventually spoke.
“You're way out of line,” Kirstin breathed in her ear as Meg kissed her neck gently.
Meg slowly and begrudgingly returned to eye level.
“ Me? ” she mocked. “Listen I'm the one that has to go on stage thinking about this.”
Kirstin ran a hand through her hair, clearly a little off balance. She shook her head in mild despair. “Not at work, okay?” she pleaded through a smile, “I can't function.”
Meg was bashful. “I'm sorry,” she said, “It's just I had to deal with being like this close to you in the meeting.” Meg demonstrated the distance between them, which was not much more than a couple of inches. “And I haven't seen you properly in a couple of days. I couldn't wait.” She met Kirstin's gaze again. Kirstin was smiling unashamedly at the compliment. “If I fuck up tonight, I dedicate it to you,” Meg added charmingly.
That's JUST what I need , thought Kirstin rolling her eyes.
“I have to go,” Kirstin said reluctantly, slowly untangling herself from Meg, who was doing her best not to oblige.
“Wait,” Meg said pulling her back slightly and waiting for Kirstin to meet her eyes, “can I meet you later?” she asked.
Kirstin felt herself nodding before Meg had even finished the question. “But you have to be less conspicuous, okay?”
Meg nodded and Kirstin slipped carefully back into the hallway.
Meg heard the swing doors open and close signifying Kirstin's exit. She turned around to lean on the wall they had just been occupying. Though she realised she was probably imagining it, it did still seem to retain a little warmth from the moment that had just passed. Meg realised she had forgotten where they were as the exterior noise suddenly seemed to filter back into her ears.
The wing curtains were designed to hide people and objects from the audience, and as such were all set in parallel to the front of the stage. She and Kirstin had been stage left between a couple of these sets of curtains. What hadn't occurred to Meg, because she had been focussing in the wrong direction, was that although no-one back stage or in the audience could have seen them, anyone in line with them on stage would have had a perfect view. That also included anyone in the opposite set of wings.
“Shit!” Meg hissed as she now recognised a familiar pose.
Standing in the other wings Jess smiled broadly at her and gave her a double thumbs up.
“ Shiiieeet …” repeated Meg panicking slightly.
Kirstin opened the control room door to the sound of much laughter.
“Did I miss something?” she asked, taking her jacket off and placing it on the back of her chair.
Suze caught her breath. “Oh just Meg falling spectacularly on stage.”
Kirstin's eyes worriedly darted to the monitor that was broadcasting the stage view. “What?” Her main concern was trying to ascertain how much of the stage was in shot, and only later did she register Meg's misfortune.
“I don't know what she was doing there but she suddenly appeared, darting across the dimly lit stage, and evidently careened into something that sent her flying.”
“Jesus. Is she okay?”
“Josh is trying to get Kate to take a look, she's on roaming camera somewhere around there.”
“Crap.” Kirstin sat down and put on her headphones, leaning in and pressing on the system in front of her. “Seth?”
“Hey Kirstin,” came the cracked response.
“Are you with Kate?”
“Yeh, we're just headed to the stage now.”
“Tell her to turn the camera off.”
“Just do what I said.”
Suze turned, clearly surprised. Kirstin felt the unvoiced question. “Either she hurt herself, or she's very embarrassed. Either way, it's not fair to film.”
Suze pulled a face. “Okay.”
“Nothing. I think you're right. But a good documentary it does not make.”
Kirstin's lip curled. If there was one good rule for a good shoot it was to film as much as the budget would allow, she knew that. Hell, everyone knew it.
“You want to see it?” Suze failed to suppress a grin, and didn't wait for a response, expertly rewinding the live footage feed on the monitor to replay the moment Kirstin had missed.
Kirstin nearly choked. Not only did the flying fall look painful, it was also very extravagant in nature, and thus she understood the amusement that had ensued. “Shit.” Kirstin laughed and winced at the same time. “That must have hurt.”
“Crap.” Kirstin pulled off her cans and got up. “I have to check she's okay.”
Meg was sitting by the side of the stage with a towel pressed to her head, being fussed over by a venue first-aider.
“You can laugh.”
“I know. I did. Until it became clear you were bleeding,” Jess pointed out. “So… Megan .” Jess cocked her jaw. Meg rolled her eyes. “Something you want to tell me?”
Jess was obviously trying hard not to smile. The medical attendant removed the towel and cleaned the small wound on Meg's head, neatly applying a small amount of skin glue, and then handing her a cold compress.
“I need to have you checked over,” the young woman said.
“I'm fine,” Meg protested.
“You hit your head. I'm not the one that gets to tell you you're okay. I'll be back in a few minutes.”
Meg nodded, and sighed. “Thanks.”
Jess sat next to Meg in the corridor and looked at her head. “I've been saying for years you should get that thing looked at.”
“Are you okay?” Jess asked, seeming genuinely concerned.
“Hey,” Jess put a hand on Meg's arm. “I think it's cool.” Meg's brow rose in question. “She's a catch, Meg, even I can see that.” Meg visibly relaxed. “Is it serious?”
Meg sighed. “I don't know.”
“You don't know?!” The singer was incredulous. “You must like her. I mean, you like her right? Like her, like her?” Meg looked away. “Oh my god.”
“Your eyes just went misty!”
“No they didn't.”
Jess snickered. “Yes, they did. You are so busted!”
“It's the head wound.”
“Sure it is. Sure.”
There was a scuffling at the other end of the corridor, causing both women to turn.
“Heeeey…” Kirstin intoned, clearly tying to work out what Jess was doing there. “I was just shown the tumble you took. Are you okay?”
“She's fine ,” Jess piped up, standing and grinning.
Meg stood to join her. “I'm fine.”
Pulling up in front of them both, Kirstin's concern was evident as her eyes raked over Meg in assessment.
Jess giggled. “Is it on tape?” she asked, suddenly serious.
“Er, yes,” Kirstin answered.
“Awesome. Can we have it?”
“Youtube. They will love it!”
Kirstin frowned. “Sure, whatever.”
“Excellent. Well, I have to go… you know – to do that.” She grinned broadly at Meg once again and widened her eyes suggestively before giving her a thumbs-up.
Meg groaned internally as Jess left.
Kirstin waited until Jess was out of earshot. “What was that?” Meg now groaned externally. “And what were you doing, on the stage?”
“She saw us, before, in the wings.”
“Ohhh. Crap. She has the biggest mouth of them all.”
“Are you okay? Really?”
“Yeh. My head hurts a bit, they're sending someone down. I'm surprised I'm not fighting off the cameras right now.”
“Well lucky for you you're sleeping with the director, who didn't think you'd take kindly to a face full of camera right now.”
Meg smiled. “Thank you.”
“You're welcome. I got a look from Suze. The kind that tells me I'm compromising my position, but it's worth it.” Kirstin brushed Meg's hair aside to get a better look at the wound. “So the circle of trust widens, hey?”
“Damnit, I should have told her to keep her mouth shut. If I don't tell her, it doesn't occur to her.”
“Exactly.” Kirstin laughed. “You don't seem that worried.”
“I'm more worried about you. Is that why you hurled yourself across the stage, to tell her to keep her mouth shut?”
Kirstin sighed heavily. “Well don't. Just. Don't, okay? You have a very pretty face, it's not worth the scars.” Kirstin didn't give Meg chance to contemplate what wasn't worth what. “Are you okay with her posting the video?”
“Yeh. If she doesn't, someone else will. At least this way it looks like I'm taking the piss outta myself. Otherwise it'd just end up in The Enquirer with some story about my substance abuse, or my failing mental state, or dubious health issues.”
“And I thought you said The Enquirer printed only the truth,” Kirstin jibed.
“All of the above is true,” Meg smiled easily.
Kirstin pouted. “That seems like a lot of blood,” she commented, her eye lingering on the discarded towel on the bench.
“Head wound,” Meg stated simply.
“What did you hit?”
“A number of things, culminating in the slicing action of a large cymbal, which I have decided to retire.”
Kirstin was just about to lean forward and kiss the soft lips that were so dangerously close, but she heard voices heading their way. Closing hers eyes briefly, before looking into eyes that she knew had read her mind, she took a small step backward, and allowed the person she assumed was an actual medic to take a closer look at Meg's head.
“I'm so sick of accident books,” Kirstin remarked as she then caught sight of Pete lumbering down the hallway with one in his hand. “This is nothing to do with me,” she stated quickly, enjoying the smile that spread across Meg's face.
“Yet you're almost always first on scene Kirstin, I gotta wonder, you know?” Pete smiled good-naturedly. He looked at Meg's head. “You call me out here for a scratch?” he laughed.
Continued in Part 15
Thanks to Jen for beta duties.
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