by: 

 

Disclaimers: Nope. The characters are mine. I don't really want them, so perhaps I'll just let them have each other. That way everyone's happy. If you haven't read Alix and Valerie then you'll probably be lost. If you're lost anyway.. then... you'll have to see Bertha about that. I'm not responsible for anything I write. Unless.. of course... you like it :)

 

Sex/Violence/Naughty language: Yes/No/Maybe so.

 

Dedication: This one goes to Amber, cause after 7 months she's still putting up with me. Thanks for daring me to write fanfic... I would've never done it otherwise ;) I loooove you.

 

Special Thanks: to my best friend Christy, who makes me appear far more creative than I am. And as always, to Cindy, for everything. 

 

Feedback: Feel free to direct all comments, questions, rantings, ravings, roommate stories, bad hair days, radioactive rock information, UFO sightings, and amusing anecdotes to amazonkiwi@aol.com


Chapter Two ā still Alix

 

The plane managed to land without crashing, and for that I was thankful. We grabbed a cab from Newark Airport to the City and instructed the driver to deposit us at a nice hotel. He drove around for a while, trying to decide on which hotel would be best suited for our needs. I thought it was sweet of him to take the time to do that. 

He finally settled on the Hilton. Or the Hyatt. It was one of those "H" names. Maybe it was the Holiday Inn. I was way too nervous to notice.

 

Our suite consisted of adjoining rooms and as I stood there pacing around my section, Jade entered carrying a piece of paper in one hand and a pen in the other.

 

"I'm working on a poem," she announced. "Tell me how you like it." She cleared her throat. "It's titled How Dare You Call Me Booty Birdů"

 

"Okay, Jade, that's enough," I told her, holding up my hands.

 

"But you haven't even heard the first stanza!" Jade complained.

 

Against my better judgment, I allowed her to continue. I sank down at the edge of my bed and stared expectantly at my best friend, whose sanity I was beginning to question.

 

"Right then." She cleared her throat again, if only to irritate me. "How dare you call me Booty Bird .. Don't you see how that's absurd? ÷ Don't tell me to call you Boo Babbler .. Can't you see that nothing even rhymes with that?" She lifted her head from the piece of paper, gazing at me expectantly.

 

I stared at her, unblinking.

 

"Should I read you the rest?"

 

"No-no," I answered quickly. "I'm not sure I can handle that much poetic beauty all at once."

 

Jade nodded, slipping the paper into the back pocket of her black jeans. "So, what's the plan? Or are we just winging it?"

 

I allowed myself to fall back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling quietly for a few moments before answering. "I guess I just show up."

 

Jade walked over and sat down on the bed beside me. "Don't you think she's going to find this just a wee bit obsessive?"

 

"So what's your suggestion? That I parade aimlessly around the city in the off-chance that I'll bump into her, and then say, 'Gee, fancy meeting you here'?"

 

Jade grinned. "You're right. Now matter what you do, it's going to seem obsessive." She patted my knee.

 

"Thanks."

 

"Any time."

 

"So what are you going to do tonight?"

 

Jade appeared surprised. She stood, then walked to the window, spreading her arms toward the view outside. "Alix, look around! This is New York! What am I not going to do tonight."

 

I grinned at Jade's enthusiasm. I wished I could share in the excitement, but I'd barely even noticed the view. "I'm going to shower .. and then ÷ I'm going to find Valerie."

 

Jade stared at me, shaking her head. "My friend, you've got more balls than the entire NBA."

 

I chose to take that as a compliment.

 

 

 

The cab dropped me off across the street from the address the woman at Whispers had given me. It hadn't occurred to me to wonder if it was the right address. That is, until I heard the taxi screech away. I found myself standing alone in the middle of the sidewalk, staring up at an unfamiliar building, wondering how the hell I'd gotten there.

 

Gods, did I really come all the way up here?

 

I stood there for a long moment, trying to rehearse the speech I'd been rewriting over and over in my mind.

 

Across the street, a figure caught my eye. I frowned suddenly, wondering why I felt compelled to stare at her. It looked like Valerie ÷ but it couldn't be ÷ Valerie didn't have black hair ÷

 

The figure turned into the building.

 

Oh ÷ God÷

 

I sprinted across the street, not caring if I got run over on the way there. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately depending on how things turned out, I made it safely to the other side. Once inside the building, I looked around until I caught a flash of black hair disappear around the corner. I dashed in that direction, rounding the corner and finding myself face to face with Valerie.

 

For what seemed like ages, neither of us said anything. She was looking at me as though she couldn't believe she was really seeing me. And I was looking at her like ÷ Well, I'm not sure how I was looking at her, but I'm sure she could tell you. Finally, I broke the silence. "I bet you're wondering what I'm doing in New York÷"

 

Valerie's face was unreadable as always. "Actually I was wondering if you realized that you're in an elevator."

 

I blinked a few times, then saw the doors to the elevator swoosh closed and felt the box-object-of-death begin its ascent. I swallowed, leaning back against the  wall and holding on for dear life. Please don't let me die. Please don't let me die.

 

Bing!

 

I shut my eyes and screamed, "Oh shit we're going to die!!"

 

The doors swooshed open.

 

"My floor," Valerie announced.

 

I peered out through one eye, then the other. "Oh." With as much dignity as I could muster, I stepped out of the elevator.

 

Silently, I followed Valerie down the dimly lit corridor, focusing intently on the dark blue carpet at my feet.

 

Once inside the apartment, we stared awkwardly at one another. This time it was Valerie who spoke first. "Okay, now I'm wondering what you're doing in New York."

 

I took a deep breath. "And what an excellent question that is," I told her. "It's a funny story, really. I went to see you and you weren't home. So I went to Whispers and I was informed of your departure. And I thought, 'Hey I've always wanted to see New York in the fall'. So, here I am."

 

"And you just happened to be walking by this building?"

 

"Uh÷" I ran a hand through my hair nervously. "Well, someone might have clued me in as to where you were staying÷"

 

Valerie sighed. "Alix, why are you here?"

 

"I wanted to thank you for the picture."

 

"You're telling me you flew all the way here to thank me for the drawing?" Valerie asked skeptically.

 

"No," I admitted, suddenly wishing she'd offered me a drink. "I didn't want things to end how they did."

 

"So how did you want them to end?"

 

I stared at her. "I didn't."

 

Her expression remained impassive but I could swear she looked surprised for a second. "What are you trying to say?"

 

Instead of answering, I said, "When did you dye your hair?"

 

She didn't seem surprised by the change in conversation. "Yesterday, the second I got here," she responded.

 

She didn't ask if I liked it, so I didn't say anything. But I liked it a lot. And here I'd thought she couldn't get any hotter. I cleared my throat. I knew I had to answer her question but now my actions were starting to seem crazy. Obsessive, even. What was I doing there?

 

"Would you like to get something to eat?" Valerie suggested, much to my surprise.

 

I was sure I'd forgotten to pack my appetite when I'd left Florida but I could use the time to think of what to say. "Sure." I glanced wearily at the door. "But could we maybe take the stairs this time?"

 

She nodded and turned toward the door, but I could've sworn I saw a ghost of a smile pass across her lips.

 

 

 

We ended up at Famous Joe's Pizza in Greenwich Village. I wasn't entirely sure if the establishment was named after Joe himself, or if it was the pizza itself that was famous. The guy working there didn't look familiar, so perhaps it was all about the pizza. But then, wouldn't it be called Joe's Famous Pizza? Perhaps if I stayed in New York long enough, it would eventually make sense. Or maybe I was just thinking about stupid things to keep from panicking.

 

I sat down at a table, looking around the small restaurant. There were about seven tables lined up against the wall. Then some walking space between the table and the counter where one ordered. That was about it. This didn't seem like an environment conducive to serious conversations, but I wasn't particularly in the mood for small talk either. So I just stayed quiet and concentrated on breathing.

 

Outside, a couple of men holding hands passed by. I raised an eyebrow. Guess we're not in Kansas anymore.

 

Valerie joined me at the table soon after and placed a large pepperoni pizza  between us. I entertained thoughts that this steaming pile of melting cheese was the only thing keeping us apart. Like the Great Wall of China, only edible. And that if we managed to eat it all, everything would be fine.

 

Too bad I wasn't hungry.

 

I grabbed the smallest slice. Then, lazily picked off the pepperoni.

 

Valerie sat there silently for as long as she could. Then asked the inevitable, "I thought you said you liked pepperoni pizza?"

 

I looked up at her, and said quite seriously, "I love it." Then picked off the last remaining piece.

 

We ate silently. Well, she ate silently. I just sat there staring down at the slice of pizza before me and wishing it would get up and dance so I'd have something to distract me from the situation at hand. But, it too, sat silently. And I knew that if one of us didn't say something soon, I'd go insane.

 

"You never answered my question," Valerie said suddenly.

 

"I know," I responded, daring to look up at her. It amazed me how different she looked with dark hair. It made her eyes look bluer; more intense. I begged my heart to slow down, but it refused to listen. In fact, I believe it sped up. "I'm not exactly sure why I'm here," I responded after a moment, leaning back against the chair.

 

Valerie didn't respond, but I noticed she'd stopped eating.

 

"I couldn't just let you run off like that," I continued. "A girl needs closure."

 

"Closure?" Valerie repeated, her eyebrows raised.

 

"Yes." I nodded. "A hundred years from nowů" I paused to rethink this. "I'll be a hundred and twenty and quite possibly dead. Scratch that." I shrugged. "I just don't want to look back on this and wonder what-if. I figured that regardless of what happens from here on end, at least I'll know."

 

"And what do you want to happen?" Valerie asked softly.

 

Uhh... "I'm not sure. What do you want to happen?"

 

"I don't know."

 

Glad we got that settled.

 

"Not hungry?" Valerie asked, glancing at my plate.

 

"I can't eat when I'm nervous," I admitted.

 

She didn't respond to that. Instead, she stood. "Ready?"

 

I nodded, and followed her outside. I had no idea where we were exactly, but I assumed that Valerie did. At least, I hoped she did.

 

"How long are you staying?" Valerie asked.

 

"As long as it takes," I responded.

 

This answer caused her to look at me briefly, then she turned her attention back to the view ahead.

 

"Where are we going?" I asked.

 

"Nowhere in particular," she responded. "I just like to walk."

 

I almost smiled, remembering the night we'd met. I suddenly felt nostalgic.

 

Since neither of us were talking, I focused instead on the scenery around me. I have one word to describe it all: stores. Granted, that's not an adjective. But trust me, it applies here. If I'd liked shoppingůwhich I didn'tůI would've been in heaven. As it happened though, I merely found it interesting. We passed by countless shops selling everything from leather whips to incense and candles. I lost count of how many Starbucks I saw. Although, we could've been going around the same exact block for all I knew. I hated feeling like a tourist.

 

"What's your full name?" I found myself asking.

 

"What?" She seemed taken aback.

 

I shrugged, keeping my gaze on the ground. "Well, I figured that if we're starting over, then we may as well redo the introductions."

 

Valerie stopped walking. "Start over?"

 

I turned to face her and somehow managed to meet her gaze. "Would you like to?"

 

Her eyes studied mine intently. "What are you saying?"

 

"You. Me. Us. Start over." I grinned awkwardly. "I thought I was pretty clear."

 

Valerie didn't respond. I had no idea what she was thinking.

 

"Look, I'm not saying it's going to be easy ÷ but I'm willing to give it a shot."

 

"Give what a shot?" Valerie asked uncertainly.

 

"Us," I responded. "I want to give us a second chance. You know, minus all the lying and deceiving and stuff."

 

"Why would you want to do this?"

 

I locked our gazes. "Because losing you is not an option."

 

Instead of responding, she started walking. I sighed, then followed after her. She wasn't speaking and I had no idea what else to say, so I just walked beside her, wishing for telepathic abilities just so I'd know what she was thinking.

 

I have no idea how long we walked, but eventually we found ourselves back in Valerie's apartment. By this time, I was beginning to panic.

 

"Alix, you shouldn't be here," were her first words to me.

 

I swallowed back my fear. It would've been so much easier to just walk out the door and return to the hotel room. I could've been back in Florida the next morning, working on ways to write Valerie out of my life forever. Anything would've been easier than standing there, facing the possibility of rejection. But stand there I did. "Shouldn't be where?" I asked her, "In New York, or in your apartment?"

 

Valerie looked at me sadly. We were both standing in the middle of the living room. She was leaning against the side of the couch. I was staring down at the white carpet, awkwardly contemplating the absence of color. "You shouldn't have followed me out here," she said.

 

"But I did," I told her.

 

"Alix, you deserve so much better than what I can give you. You should be with someone ÷ normal."

 

"Normal?" I asked, frowning. "Valerie, name one thing that's normal about me?"

 

"That's not the point."

 

"So what's the point?"

 

Valerie clenched her jaw. "I'm not good for you."

 

I shook my head and walked over to her, grabbing her hand. I led her around the couch and sat her down. "Just listen to me for a moment," I instructed. "Before you came along, I had spent the past 7 years of my life lusting after my straight best friend. That wasn't good for me. I spent all of that time being totally bitter and angry at the world. I didn't look at other people. I didn't go out with other people. I didn't even think about other people. None of that was good for me.

 

"But then you came along, and all of a sudden I'm fainting in thunderstorms and jumping on airplanes and riding on elevators. Do you think I would've done any of those things if I didn't think you were worth it?"

 

She opened her mouth to respond, but nothing came out.

 

"Exactly," I agreed, as if I'd made my point. I felt quite proud of myself. "So what do you say?"

 

Valerie stared up at me for a long moment, her face betraying nothing. Finally, she rose to her feet and stretched out her hand. "Valerie Anne Michaels, nice to meet you."

 

I grinned brightly, my body flooding with relief. "Alix T. Morris."

 

"What's the 'T' stand for?"

 

I snorted. "It stands for 'There's no way in Hell you're ever going to know.'"

 

Valerie smiled. "So what happens now?"

 

"This is where you ask me out on a date." Wow. New York sure brought out the feistiness in me. I kind of liked it.

 

"Are you free tomorrow?"

 

"If you're lucky."

 

Valerie studied me for a moment. "I thought you didn't flirt?"

 

"Who says I'm flirting? I'm merely illustrating the stupidity of the question." I was teasing her and she knew it.

 

She contemplated my response. "How about we meet here ÷ around two?"

 

"It's a date." I smiled, then headed for the door. "See you then." I'm not entirely sure if I gave her a chance to say goodnight. I was just feeling overwhelmed, like none of this was really happening. I felt like at any moment I'd wake up and find myself at the airport still waiting for my flight.

 

Or maybe I'd wake up, days before the wedding, knowing I'd have to drag myself out of bed to go try on bridesmaid dresses with Jessica. And at some point between one pink dress and the other, I'd remember that I'd had a silly dream involving Jessica's long lost sister. And I'd tell Jessica all about it and she would laugh as she straightened out the large pink bow at the back of the dress and tell me how ridiculous the dream was. And then I'd stand in front of the mirror and think how ridiculous I looked. And it wouldn't occur to me to realize how ridiculous life is sometimes and how seriously we take it.

 

Because in spite of everything that had transpired in the past few hours, in the past few days, in the past few weeks ÷ there was only one thought running around in my mind as I headed out of Valerie's apartment:

 

I'd have to start counting the dates all over again.

 

To be continued...


~ Return to the Main Page~