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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:53 pm 
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It could be said that Sherry was a fierce individual. While not feral to the degree of her assumed-dead rival, she was begrudgingly territorial and loyal to a fault.

But this... this sent her over the edge. Having lent her hammock to Mike the night before after he'd dealt with a paticularly late-coming group of injured survivors, she'd slept out in the commons with a few of her Blackcap acquaintances. And just before she'd drifted off, she'd looked up to the mall's second level just in time to see him with her. The redheaded woman he'd claimed to have been an ambassador or some shit.

And she was still there.

And their arms were all over each other.

And they were laughing.

While she'd never met this woman personally, she remembered well the way Petro had regaled her about his previous marital (and extra-marital) exploits. If he liked this one, that meant she'd be trouble. He'd said so himself.

So the first thing she did that morning was wander upstairs under some pretense and simply glanced into the import store he called his bunk. They were both asleep, of course, but they were both there. There, unconscious, unclothed, and tangled together in just about as lewd a position as two unconscious people could be.

And they were fucking smiling.

--

The door slammed open as Sherry entered her room with a heavy growl, having forgotten Mike was there entirely.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 4:07 pm 
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Mike sprang out of the hammock as best as one could spring out of a hammock, fumbling for the axe at his belt. Most things that slammed doors open and growled weren't friendly, after all.

After a moment, he realised that he wasn't about to be eviscerated, although from Sherry's expression it looked like someone was. He stifled a yawn and winced as the adrenaline left his system, leaving him with the cramps of unready muscles pushed into service too quickly.

"Good morning. Something got your goat?"

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 4:19 pm 
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She stared at him as though he'd suddenly appeared out of nowhere, mouth gaping. And then she just sagged down into a chair, resting her chin in her hands.

"Our gread leader's gone fucking softie," she said disdainfully.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 4:29 pm 
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"Really?" Mike blinked and sat on the floor, head rested on the wall. He patted August, who was soundly asleep underneath some old sheets.

"What do you mean? He's collecting fluffy toys or something?"

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 4:43 pm 
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She lifted her head wearily, looking to him and appearing much, much older than she actually was.

"I saw him with some woman," she said, "smiling, laughing. And they fucked. And now he's cuddling."

The distaste was obvious in the way she worded the sentence as well as her tone of voice. Mike would be able to tell that she was maddeninigly jealous, but Sherry hadn't realized that as her cause of discomfort.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 4:50 pm 
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"Lucky bastard." Mike muttered. He might have noticed, but he really wasn't running on all cylinders after his abrupt wake-up call.

"What's the problem again?"

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 4:56 pm 
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She sighed, obviously distressed, and just plain laid her head down on the table. Thanks for the help, asshole, she thought as she laid there.

"He's told me of all the times he's hooked up with some bint and ended up in trouble," she said. "If he's picked her, she's gonna be trouble. He said so himself!" And then she added:"How is he supposed to lead a fucking army if he's drooling over SLUTZILLA!?"

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:07 pm 
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Mike achieved some measure of sentience, and realised he'd put his foot in it. He frantically tried to think of something meaningful to say.

"Isn't that going a bit far? He might just have needed, well, you know. To Do It. Who is the girl anyway?"

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:17 pm 
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"But they didn't just Do It!" she said, "He was like... coddling her and nuzzling her! And that's when they were just walking down the hall! Like a couple of stupid lushes!"

She clutched her hair in her hands. "Ugh. You'll never fucking guess who it was."

And after a moment of suspense: "That fucking Emerald Guard woman!"

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:30 pm 
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"Emerald Guard?" Mike tried to think through a large ball of cotton that seemed to be lodged in his brain. "The religious guys who go around reviving people?"

He thought for another moment, mind gathering speed. "Don't you think you're assuming the worst? I mean, he's hit off with someone and got laid. He's not gonna start going to the opera with her or something. How could it stop him from leading us?"

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:32 pm 
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"I've just got a bad feeling about the whole thing," she said, slumping against the back of the chair with a loud sigh.

She looked to him, her bangs obscuring her strange eyes.

"Hope you're right," she mumbled. "But she's just so... ugh. You could see how much she was enjoying his attention. Flaunting it."

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:40 pm 
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"No offense, but you're sounding like you've got a personal stake in this. Now, I don't think Malton's got much in the way of "They locked eyes across a crowded room"-type scenarios. Running for your life tends to put a crimp in that sort of thing." He rubbed his eyes.

"Anyway, he's professional. He's kept our shit together for two months, he can keep his private life private."

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:49 pm 
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"What do you mean by personal stake?!" she snapped, wiping her hair from her face so she could glare daggers at him. "It's not like I'm fucking him! I'm just worried about the state of the group! The militia! I'm looking out for what's best for us!"

She lowered her voice, realizing she'd been shouting.

"And that woman isn't."

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 6:01 pm 
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Mike raised his arms as if to ward off a blow. "Whoa, whoa! Way to jump to conclusions, Batman! All I meant was that you're very protective of him. Like he's an older brother or something. But since I can't seem to say anything right today, I'll leave you alone."

He got up and headed for the door, still feeling somewhat out of it.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 6:05 pm 
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She snorted derisively. "Fine," she snapped. "I wasn't asking for you to say anything right. Just to listen."

At the last few words, she almost sounded a bit wounded. Grumbling some sort of farewell, she ambled over to the hammock and threw herself down in it, clenching her eyes shut and gritting her teeth to keep from spinning around and punching him in the face. Because that was how Sherry had always dealt with things--and from her, it tended to work.

She took a deep breath.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 6:08 pm 
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With such a wonderful start to the day, Mike left to examine his patients with the vague feeling that someone had stabbed him in the base of the skull.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 2:15 pm 
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Petro watched. And waited. And when she turned, his hand descended onto her ass with a hearty 'SMACK'. Melanie turned around. "Oh, don't you start. I am RUTHLESS!" and with that, she jumped onto his back, clinging to him and just light enough so that he wouldn't topple.

"Say you kicked my ass, will ya?" he laughed as he grabbed her legs and pulled them up so she could get a more comfortable perch. "Well, I just smacked yours."

"Mm, well I can't say you're bad at it," she said, resting comfortably atop his shoulders and resting her chin on his hair. "Wow, she said, "your hair's so soft... I'm femininely angry."

He stumbled a step. "It's... naturally like that," he said defensively.

She grinned. "Sure, Dimples."

"So I take care of it," he said. "That's totally normal."

"You shower once a week, and I was in that shower. You use the same kind of shampoo I do." She grinned.

"It's good shampoo!" he protested loudly. "And I couldn't find the men's version!" He started to stagger for the exit, still carrying her.

She clung happily to him, glad for once that she was so tiny. "There isn't a mens version," she pointed out with a giggle.

"There was," he said defensively. "I'm sure there was." He stepped outside, turning to see Zimmerman coming down the walkway with a clipboard in hand. They stood and stared at each other for a long moment, Zimmerman's jaw dropping. "What happ... aren't you cold?" It was then that Petro realized he'd forgotten to get a shirt, and yes, he was cold.

She watched the exchange from the perfect vantage point, watcing as the older man's jaw just hung there. Apparently this wasn't a normal occurrance. She toyed absently with Petro's hair.

"Hi Frank..." he said. "This... is exactly what it looks like. And I'm going to go back and get my shirt now, and maybe clean up a little, and then I'll come back, and we'll have all kinds of awkward silences and you'll politely not inquire, and rumors will circulate and... see you at the office." With that, he spun on his heel and headed back inside.

"You are flat fucking unbelievable," Zimmerman said, turning around and walking away.

Melanie didn't say anything, because she was to busy holding back a guffaw.

Getting back inside, he started snickering. "Oh christ... oh christ..." He let her down and rummaged through his collection of t-shirts, finally finding a halfway clean dark blue one and tugging it on. "The look on his fucking face..."

"That was BEAUTIFUL," she said with a chortle, bare feet sliding a bit on the tile.

He looked at her for a moment, then grinned. "You're a hell of a woman, Melanie. Let's go."

"After you, sir," she said with a grin, holding his arm as they walked.

They'd been seen by more than Zimmerman when they'd come out earlier, though he'd been the only one in the immediate vicinity. However, the upper level seemed a tad more crowded now, with people who had some reason or another to be milling around. He grinned and nodded at people. "Yeah, you should see the other guys," he said, grinning dopily.

"Oh?" she said with a grin, practically hanging off him like a stereotypical trophy girlfriend. But truth be told, she simply didn't want to let go. He was so warm and so right and so damn good to her...

"That's our story, and we're sticking to it," he murmured to her. "Thirty of 'em, and we cleaned house, all Jet Li and shit."

"No wonder I'm so exhausted!" she exclaimed girlishly, giving him a wink and separating herself a little. But despite the distance, she kept their hands locked together. If he minded, all he had to do was ask her to move and she would. As they headed down the stairs--or ex-escalators as it was--there was a familiat figure heading up
them. One blue eye and one amber eye stared widely at them as Sherry simply stopped.

He didn't let go of her hand. He didn't care that anybody knew that they'd engaged in serious horizontal tango. It was just that the rather vigorous nature of it tweak some pantywaist sensibilities, which could turn into a management hassle. When he saw Sherry, he grinned his dopey grin. "Hey Tiger, how's it going?" When in doubt, brazen it out.

"I didn't meet you yesterday," Melanie said with a tiny wave, then introduced herself. Sherry honestly was stricken dumb. Sure, she'd known they'd fucked, but she was still there. And she'd fucking scratched him up like he was some kind of...
"Bitch," she said with a smile.

His expression hardened. "Hey," he said in a warning tone.

"Oh, sorry," Sherry said with an aspartame smile. "Did I say that out loud?" She spun on her heel and left.

"That's... uh... she's like my little sister," he said. Or daughter, some days. Like today.

Melanie laughed. "She's insanely jealous. Must think highly of you." Because women just knew stuff like that.

"We've saved each other's lives. Listen, Mel..." he turned toward her, his eyes asking for understanding. Hell, if it hadn't been for Sherry, he wouldn't be around to participate in what was already starting to smell suspiciously like another soap opera. "You mind if I go talk to her real quick? I'll catch up to you at the cafeteria."

She smiled. "Once I figure out where that is, you're on."

"Downstairs, straight east, fifth storefront on the right. Tell 'em I sent ya." He glanced around, smirked, then leaned forward for a quick peck on the lips. Oh yeah, more gossip for the mill.

She leaned into the kiss, then suddenly stiffened, smirking against his mouth as she delivered a retaliation spank. "See you then," she said, then waved and was continuing on down.

"I'll get you back for that one," he said quietly, before turning and jogging after Sherry.

There were more than a few curious glances as he passed some of the militia members, as well as a bit of chuckling. Sherry, however, was nowhere to be found among them.

"Alright," he said after a moment. "Blond, yay tall," gestured with his hand. "Pierced nose, 'Suck my kiss' tat on the arm. Which way did she go?"

The man he'd asked shrugged, not having been paying attention. However, Marley, the man who'd driven the bulldozer, said to him, "Maybe you should let her cool for a bit. Looked pretty upset when she shoved through here."

He pondered that for about half a second. "No, she really wants to scream at me. I can tell. Which way?"

"Up the roof," he drawled, then continued downstairs.

He trotted on over to the stairwell and headed on up to the roof, opening the door. Yeah, letting shit settle, not his style.

However, instead of finding her chucking rocks or otherwise releasing characteristic spite, she was instead slumped atop one of the air-conditioning units, looking like she'd just had her most cherished childhood toy smashed to bits.

He shivered a bit, the north breeze cutting into him, and walked toward her. He'd come out ready for the usual scream and holler, and she looked... broken. Fuck. Just cut off his balls and stick a broomstick up his ass, that'd be easier on him than seeing this.

She heard him, all right, and she'd been bracing herself for the screaming match, hoping that she could convince him to just drop that harpy for good... But... He'd looked so... She didn't even want to think about it. The edge from his eyes was gone, the tension disappeared from his shoulders. He'd looked relaxed and he'd looked happy. And she'd felt like scum for wanting to take that from him.

He walked over to her, crouching down next to her, reaching out to put his hand on her shoulder.

She jumped visibly under his touch, shying away but not having the heart nor the energy to move somewhere else.

"What's wrong?" he said. "God, don't do this, kid..." he said softly.

She took a deep breath, calming herself. She wasn't sure whether she wanted to cry on his shoulder or slug him in the jaw. Instead of lashing out like she'd planned, like she'd wanted, she apologized meekly.

"Look at me," he said. "Look at me," he repeated, putting a bit of command voice into it. "What's wrong?" He had an idea, but he wanted her to say it, get it out in the open, so they could talk about it.

"I fucked up again," she said despondently, her voice pretty much the exact opposite of its normal strong tone. She sounded like a kid who'd been caught breaking the rules when her parents came home early. She looked up to him, the rings under her eyes only accentuating how sallow she appeared. But she didn't say a thing.

He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her in for a hug. "You've got a lot of fuckups to fuck up before you are as much of a fuckup as I am."

"It's not fair," she said with a crack in her voice. "I was so pissed off... I wanted to beat you within an inch of your life... But I saw you two this morning and you just looked so goddamn content..." She met his eyes. "What's she got that I don't, huh?"

Oh christ, that wasn't what he was expecting. He froze rock still as his mind whirled around that.

"That's what I thought," she said, letting her chin drop down until she was staring at her sneakers.

He pulled his head back, still keeping his hands on her shoulders. "I... I thought... you and Mike..."

"What?" she asked, sounding utterly confused. "You thought... Oh Jesus..."

"You were always talking and shit," he said. "Kinda like, you know, people do."

"I talk with everyone," she pointed out defensively. "But... Mike... No... He's a great guy. Cute, too. But we're from different worlds. He couldn't ever understand me." The unspoken part being 'like you do.'

He let go of her shoulders and plopped back on the roof, elbows on his knees. "God Sherry, the last I'd ever want to do is hurt you. But ever since we met, you... you've been like the daughter I woulda gotten arrested with."

"And it's been great," she said with a sad smile.

He closed his eyes. This was a foreign experience for him. He couldn't relate, because he was typically the spurner, nor the spurnee, at least in situations where he was really interested. And he'd not been that good at the 'let them down easy' part because he usually took the expedient route of not returning the phone calls until they got the idea, occasionally took a slap or two and some vile verbal abuse before moving on. "I don't know what to say," he said. "You're so damned important to me. For the work you do. For keeping me honest. For... understanding."

"I know," she said. But there was no light, no humor, no appreciation in her voice. "It's like.... Like we were fine just the two of us. Like you're my da who got divorced or something. We don't need anyone else, you know? But when I saw you with her, I realized that I'm an ass for thinking you should just be happy with how things were."

He sucked in a breath. "I'd leave her for you," he said simply. Right now, it'd be easier to cut off before he got insanely attached instead of incredibly attached. "But not for... a relationship," he said. "I can't tell you any kind of way but straight up on that. If I'd been younger and we'd met while boosting a car, that coulda been different. But... it's just not there in the wiring now. I won't bullshit you about it."

She sat up suddenly, staring at him as though he'd grown an arm out of the middle of his forehead. "No offense," she said, "but... That's not what I meant at all."

He blinked. "Oh," he said stupidly.

"Just because I don't want to share you doesn't mean I want to fuck you," she said with an odd look. He really did love himself.

"Oh," he said again, feeling mildly wounded and massively relieved. "Okay. Um. Shoot me now?"

She laughed, relieved as well. She'd been rather confused when he'd mentioned Mike... Because he had nothing to do with what was between them... But she understood now.

He grinned weakly. "I'm a fucking idiot. Why the hell you put up with me is a god damned mystery."

"I could say the same for me," she said with a light shrug, leaning against him. And after a brief hesitation: "... And for her," but the bitterness was gone.

He took a deep breath. "Oh fucking Christ girl, I thought I was going to lose you. Again. And it's fucking cold up here, and I'm fucking hungry. Let's go get some breakfast. On me." Which brought certain images of dinner 'on Melanie' to mind, but she really wouldn't want to hear about that...

She hopped off their perch, pulling him to his feet, bum hip and all. "You're fuckin' stupid, you know. But regardless, like I said: you're stuck with me. Just..." She gave him a scolding look. "Don't get so blinded by the booty that you forget to drop in and say hi once in a while?"

"You gotta admit, it's one hell of a booty," he said, throwing an arm around her.

"Yeah," she said with a deep nod, "I do admit. If she weren't doting on you like a newlywed I'd steal her right out from under yer toes."

"Yeah, well, go get your own, punk," he said with mock-defensiveness, swinging his hip to thump into her, then wincing as the flare of pain reaffirmed his 'fucking idiot' status.

She laughed, catching the wince, and didn't even need to add to that one. He made himself look retarded enough. As they headed toward the door, she grabbed his chin and turned it toward her, examining the wounds on his cheek. "Well, then," she said.

"You should see the other guys," he affirmed gravely. "It was a fierce and mighty brawl."

"I'm sure they're all far worse-off," she said with a nod. Then low, quiet, more sly: "You got her back, eh?"

"She was staggering around all morning," he said with a touch of smugness.

She high-fived him with a cackle. "That's my boy."

Impulsively, he grabbed her around the neck, pulled her head close and planted a kiss on her forehead. "Thanks for understanding, Tiger. Oh, and about Mike..."

"Eugh!" she said, "Why not just drool on me? Ass." She wiped her forehead overdramatically, then stared at him. "Yeah?"

"Well?" he said, bobbing his head side to side as they reached the stairwell. "You know, are you two..." he pulled his arm free and began intertwining his fingers in a highly vulgar fashion.

She shook her head. "Like I said: different worlds."

He got serious. "You sure about that? He's a good man, strong. Too fucking honest, but nobody's perfect. But then if he wasn't, and was still making eyes at you..." he shrugged. "They'd never find the body."

"Still?" she asked, "He'd have to start making eyes at me to be still doing it." She shrugged, folding her arms behind her head as they walked. "We're friends and all, but I think I freak him out a bit."

"Smart guys like him make their approach differently," he pointed out. "Sometimes you have to grab 'em and shake them around a bit."

"Whatever the hell you mean by that," she said. "I don't think he's interested." And even if he was, she wouldn't necessarily be. Sherry wasn't the type for 'relations,' as it were.

He stopped on a stair, turning to look at her. "If you get the idea that there might be something there, go for it," he said seriously. "He might be gone tomorrow. Or you might be."

She hurried down after him. "What's what supposed to mean? You're talkin' strange... Since when do we care about our impending deaths and all?"

"I'm talking about not missing opportunities while you're alive," he said. "Me, I figure that we're like roaches, and we'll live forever. Like... roach-turtles, I guess. Turtles live forever, don't they? Anyway..." He shook his head and gave her a dopey grin, then winked. "I just had a hell of a good time, and I wouldn't mind seeing you get some kind of action going like that, right?"

She smirked. "Just figured that having a hell of a good time had nothing to do with that mushy shit," she explained, poking him in the ribs. "But I guess your opinions have changed, eh?" She then added in a softer voice: "This woman... She's special to you, isn't she?"

"Never met one like her," he admitted.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 2:24 pm 
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While it could be said that Sherry had a good idea of when she'd wronged, apologising to the wronged individuals was something she was still getting used to.

The patient wing was slow this morning as it was every morning, and the light filtering in through the rest of the building had yet to reach most of the beds, so the bodies in them slept thankfully sound. Sherry tiptoed into the room, knowing Mike would have been there hours ago what with his almost infuriating sense of dedication. Although it had hardly been two hours since she'd woken him, a lot had changed.

And a lot was suddenly clearer to her, like how she'd utterly ruined his morning.

And there he was, poised over the same riotous little girl who'd thrown a fit when Melanie and Petro had come through the night before.

"Hey," she whispered with what she hoped was a supportive smile. "Got a minute?"

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 4:01 pm 
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He raised his fingers to his lips and pulled a plastic curtain, stolen from a bath supply store, around the makeshift medical cot. "I just got her to sleep." He drew her away. "What's up?"

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 4:09 pm 
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She grabbed him by the arm and carefully, quietly led him from the room of slumbering infirm.

"I just," she reached back and scratched the back of her neck, laughing nervously. "Damn, you know this shit isn't easy for me."

After a pause, she finally just let it all out in one long sigh.

"You were right. I was just being stupid and jealous. And... I was an arse."

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 4:21 pm 
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"Hey, we all get out of the wrong side of bed sometimes. Besides, I wasn't being very helpful." He pulled a crumpled packet of wet wipes from one of his deep pockets and cleaned his hands.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 4:27 pm 
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"Yeah... But I shouldn't have made it your problem anyway. Petro and I got things sorted out... Actually rather funny, really... But if skankzilla--er, Melanie--wants to stay, fine with me."

She sat down on the rim of a long-unused fountain, cracked and empty but perfect bench-height.

"He also thought you and I were havin' relations," she said with a laugh. "And asked so by means of some very rude hand gestures."

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 5:01 pm 
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Mike had a sudden coughing fit.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 5:20 pm 
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Sherry patted his back with the heel of her hand, laughing despite his discomfort.

"Yeah, that's pretty much what I told him."

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 5:53 pm 
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"But how did he- Er. What- Ah. Eh, erp?" Mike was tripping over his own words like a pro.

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