Frank, Trevor, and Mara all waited quietly in the cavernous lobby of a fancy hotel, their luggage arrayed on the floor around them as soothing music played overhead. The music really shouldn't have bothered. Across the room, Claire was talking to the man at the reception desk.
Frustrated, Claire leaned on the counter. "But there's got to be something!"
The man checked his computer screen one more time, knowing full well what was on it. He shook his head at the results. "I'm sorry, Ms. Allen. There's nothing I can do."
"But he just needs one small room! Not even a full sized room. A sub-room. A room with an inferiority complex! A room hoping someday to be promoted to a master suite! That's all! I'll even take a broom closet! A kennel? A tent? Anything?"
Unmoved, the man shook his head again. "My apologizes but there's nothing. We're booked completely. And I'm afraid that you'll find that most of the rooms in the area are as well. It's a busy time of year."
Claire's jaw dropped angrily, giving him an annoyed stare. "Fine... You know, people like you are why some people prefer automated tellers."
The man smiled pleasantly, but said nothing. He wondered if he should turn up the soothing music in the lobby.
Claire turned and walked back to everyone else, not knowing what to do. She stood in front of them with a frustrated sigh.
Trevor smirked. "What's wrong, Claire? They weren't impressed by your degree?"
"No, Trevor. They weren't impressed by my stowaway."
"What happened?" Frank asked. "Was there a mix up with the reservations?"
"No," Claire said. "No, not at all. The reservations are fine. That's not the problem. Our rooms are ready and waiting."
Trevor sighed fondly. "Ahh. Ready and waiting. One of my favorite word combinations."
Mara frowned at Claire, not understanding. "Then what's the problem?"
"The problem is that we're going to have to find another hotel. They're book solid with no additional rooms to spare. I couldn't find a room for Trevor."
Trevor nodded. "And me without my swadling clothes..."
Claire looked at Mara pointedly. "Guess I should have taken Trevor into account back when I didn't know he was coming with us." she said, annoyed.
Mara shook her head. "Look, We don't have to find another hotel. We're here. We've got two rooms, we'll do fine."
Reluctantly, Claire agreed, knowing it would come to this. "I guess you're right. Mara and I will take one room while Trevor and Frank take the other." The disappointment in her voice was clear as she realized she wouldn't be spending the night with Frank after all.
Trevor noticed. "Guess that tiny red lingerie you packed is getting bumped from its premiere performance..."
Mara nodded at what Claire was proposing. "Absolutely not, Claire."
Claire blinked at her. "What?"
"You and Frank already have a room, and you're welcome to it. Trevor can stay with me."
Claire stared at Mara in shock for a moment. "Oh no no no! There's no way!"
Watching her, Trevor stood beside Frank and softly elbowed him in the ribs, whispering to him. "Frank, have you noticed that Claire says 'no' an awful lot?"
Mara tilted her head at Claire's reaction, smiling innocently but ready for a fight. "Why not, Claire?"
"You and Trevor are not sharing a room together and that's final!"
Mara glared at her. "Wait, when were you elected goddess of the universe?"
Trevor interrupted. "Hey, I only voted for her that one time because I thought she was cute-"
Mara continued. "I'm not a kid, Claire. You can't tell me what to do anymore. Trevor and I are mature adults. We're both fully capable of-"
Misunderstanding, Claire interrupted her. "Wait, just what are you implying that you and Trevor are capable of?"
Mara looked at her, surprised she even had to explain. "Of making our own decisions. Why? What were you thinking?"
Claire shook her head. "Trevor is NOT going to share a room with you Mara! I know you. I know how you are. So there's no chance in hell..."
Mara stared at Claire coldly, and although her expression didn't change one iota, it was suddenly obvious that Mara was digging her heels in for a fight.
Frank noticed with a sigh, having seen it all before. "Here we go..." he said wearily, putting down his bags with the knowledge that they were going to be there for awhile.
Ignoring everything else, Mara turned on her heel and stormed over to the reception desk. Angrily, Claire followed behind her. As they approached, the man behind the desk noticed the tension between the two women and the pen in his hand stopped. He took a subconcious step back.
Trevor tapped Frank's arm, still watching Claire and Mara. "They're not going to fight, roll around on the floor, get sweaty, and rip off each other's clothing, are they? Because if they are, I'd really like to get a camera..."
Mara walked up to the man behind the desk, smiling at him sweetly. Claire was right at her side, looking ready to spit nails.
Mara leaned on the counter. "Excuse me. Hi. I'm Mara Allen. You have room reservations for us?"
The man swallowed. "Umm...yes?"
"Two rooms, right? About the second room. The adjacent room. Who's name is that room registered to, exactly?" Mara looked over at Claire, waiting for the answer.
The man looked down at his computer screen. "That room is registered to one Mara Allen."
"I see. And how was that room paid for?"
"That room was paid for by a credit card registered to Mara Allen."
Mara turned to the man. "Really? To me? So since I registered and paid for the room, I have complete discretion as to who I allow to stay in that room with me, don't I? Say for instance... certain sisters."
"Of course, Ms. Allen."
Mara smiled triumphantly at Claire. "Thank you very much. That's all I needed to hear." She turned and walked back to Frank and Trevor.
Claire stayed at the desk, looking back and forth and trying to decide who she was angrier at, Mara or the receptionist. When she couldn't decide, she finally followed Mara with an angry grunt.
Mara bent down to pick up her bags from where she had left them. She walked past Frank and Trevor, not breaking stride. "Come on, Trevor. You're staying with me."
The two men began to pick up their bags as well, happy it was settled. They were walking towards the elevators when they stopped and looked behind them. Claire still stood in the middle of the lobby, not budging.
She looked at all three of them. "No," she stated simply.
Collectively, they all let out a disappointed sigh, seeing the argument wasn't over and putting down their bags again. Mara crossed her arms stubbornly before she turned and faced Claire.
"Exactly why not, Claire?" Mara asked.
"You and Trevor are not spending the night together in the same room, Mara." Her voice was soft and hard, but somewhere deep down, it was almost desperate.
Frank's brow furrowed, surprised at how intensely Claire was reacting to this. "What's the big problem? Why can't they share a room?"
"Why?" Claire stared at him, incredulous that he would take Mara's side in this. "Why? You're asking why?"
Trevor sighed. "Claire, we're all adults here. I'm sure we can handle this in a-" he cleared his throat and grinned at Mara, knowing full well that Claire was watching, "-purely adult manner."
Mara smiled back at him. "My thoughts exactly. What's wrong with two adults sleeping in the same room?"
Claire felt uncomfortable. "Well, because... well, you're a... you're a..." Claire motioned vaguely at Mara's body. "You know. And Trevor's a... he's a..."
Trevor leaned forward, straining for her answer. Finally, he finished her sentence himself. "-a god?" he offered.
Claire glared at him. "-a self deluded egotistical man!"
Trevor blinked to himself. "Wow. Isn't that redundant?"
Mara nodded. "We don't need you to be our chaperone, Claire. You and I are a little less than a year apart in age, and Trevor's a couple of thousand years older than either of us."
Claire scoffed. "Yeah, and the easter bunny won gold at the Munich Olympics-"
Mara continued. "My point is that we're fully capable of deciding whether to control or not control ourselves. The rest is really, very much none of your business. Trevor and I will do fine."
"Mara, you can't! You just can't, OK? You know that Trevor's not just another guy. He's... different. Look, I'm his physician, he's my patient, and I know what's best for him."
Mara looked at her. "I wasn't aware that Trevor's psychological regimen required him to have a babysitter."
"It doesn't. It's just that-"
"Then stop being a baby and let him make his own decisions. Let go of him, Claire. Let Trevor live his own life without you always trying to fix him. And you live yours. Are you saying he needs his therapist's approval on everything he does?"
"Of course not! Trevor's a grown-"
Mara turned to him. "Trevor, would you mind it if you roomed with me so I don't have to share a room with little Miss Can't be Wrong?"
Trevor smiled at the look in Claire's eyes. "I wouldn't mind at all, Mara. Sounds like fun."
Mara bit her lip slightly, considering. "Hmm. That all depends on you..."
Claire protested again. "But you can't! You-"
Frank touched Claire's arm. "You just said Trevor can decide for himself. So I assume there are no professional objections. Are there.. other, reasons why you don't want him to?"
Claire looked into Frank's eyes, mind racing as she tried to find an excuse to stop this. In the end, she couldn't. "No. No... there's no other reason."
Frank and Claire held the gaze between them for a few moments, before Frank looked away.
Mara smiled, satisfied. "Great. Me and Trevor will go get settled in. Besides, you should thank me, Claire. Guess you'll get the chance to premiere that little red outfit of yours tonight after all."
"Hey, if there's a show, I call shotgun!" Trevor lifted his hand into the air for a moment, but thinking better of it under all of their glares, he pulled it down and changed the subject. "Umm... there's still the little problem of me not having any clothes to wear..."
Mara reached in to her purse and pulled out an expensive looking credit card, handing it to him. "Personally, I wouldn't consider that a problem, but here. This should cover it. I'm the one who invited you, so don't worry about the cost. Of course if you're uncomfortable with that and your pride insists on being a guy about it... then you can pay me back when we get to Chicago."
Claire's eyes widened slightly when she saw the expensive credit card. Apparently Mara's singing career was going better than she had ever bothered to mention to her.
Trevor took the card. "Thanks. This is very cool. The gods of Olympus are in your debt. Which means... I'll pay you back in Chicago."
Mara smiled, shaking her head. "The male ego never fails. Don't worry about it, Trevor." Mara intentionally reached out to rub her fingers along the fringe of Claire's expensive coat. "It's only money."
Mara turned and picked up her worn luggage bags, heading to her room whether Claire objected or not.
Trevor tapped the credit card against his palm. "Guess the god of love's going shopping. Is there a Parthenon Gap anywhere around?"
Frank had been quiet for sometime, looking over at Claire with an almost sad expression on his face. Suddenly he spoke up. "Trevor, mind if I come along?"
Trevor blinked in surprise, not expecting that. "Umm... sure. Sure. Why not. Two guys on the prowl. Not... not a problem." He took a breath, never having spent time with Frank before. "Ok... Come on, Frank in further. Let's go find the golden fleece."
Frank and Trevor were alone as they walked through the crowded interior of the clothing store, passing racks of racks of clothing all around them. Without breaking stride, Trevor was picking various shirts and pants off the racks and pulling them into his arms.
He spoke softly to himself as he picked them out. "Want it, have it, need it. Want it, have it, need it. Ooohh... LOVE it." Trevor took on an effeminate voice as he modeled the shirt for Frank. "Does this shirt make me look fat?"
Frank watched him, still amazed at how quickly Trevor was making his selections. "Trevor, are you just picking these randomly?"
"Yeah. Everything looks good on me."
"Except apparently, humility."
Trevor smiled, already on the move again. "Occupational hazard of being a god. Humility would just bring me one step closer to-" Trevor winced, "humanity."
A very attractive woman suddenly slinked by, very blond, very tanned, very short skirt. Both men's eyes tracked her instantly across the store.
Trevor nodded. "Still, there is some humanity I wouldn't mind stepping closer to."
"Like Claire?" Frank asked.
Trevor smiled. "Sure I like Claire. She's a lot of fun. Except when she's being so bossy. Tends to cramps a love god's style."
Following behind him, Frank smiled and shook his head. "You really do believe you're Cupid, don't you?"
Trevor shrugged. "Somebody has to. Believe me, I'll be the god of love until the day I... well, don't die. Umm, Frank could you hold these for a second?" Distracted by something he saw across the store, Trevor shoved the clothes he was carrying into Frank's arms, leaving him standing there as he walked towards what he had seen.
A female employee was working at a cash register when she looked up as Trevor touched her arm. He flashed her his best smile. "Hi," he said, "Great store you have here. I was wondering if you could do me a favor..."
Frank watched Trevor from where he stood, calmly amused when he realized what Trevor was doing.
"I need your help with something," Trevor was telling the woman. "Do you see that gentleman over there?"
The woman's eyes followed where Trevor pointed. Several aisles away, a man was wandering through the store, browsing through various clothes. The woman nodded. "Yeah. I recognize him. He's sort of a regular."
Trevor nodded, pretending he knew that all along. "A regular. Right. Anyway, he's a friend of mine, and he's constantly telling me that he only wants to be helped by you. Just you. Nobody else but you. Shoop boop bee doo, if you know what I mean. He only comes to this store because you're here, but he's kinda shy and too embarrassed to ask for you all by himself. But, me and him go way back, so I thought I'd help him out. I owe the guy, you know? If you could just go over there and help him find what he's looking for, you won't regret it. Worst case, you'll probably get a sale out of the deal, and best case, who knows what else could happen. But don't tell him I told you, ok? He'd never let me use his summer house in Paris again..."
Frank looked over at the man Trevor was talking about, knowing full well that Trevor had never met that man in his life. He turned back to the cash register.
Trevor and the female employee were still talking quietly, sharing a laugh. She leaned in and whispered to him. "Really? I had no idea he felt that way. Thanks for telling me, Mr...?"
"It's Trevor. And it's not a problem, glad to help. Go get him, tiger."
Smiling triumphantly, Trevor walked back to Frank as the woman slowly walked across the store and, being as subtle as possible, started up a conversation. Trevor looked over his shoulder and blinked in shock when he saw the man he had pointed out to her walking unexpectedly out the door. He turned around, finding the woman he had been speaking to talking to a different man entirely, having misunderstood.
Trevor started to walk back. "No, no! That's the wrong one..."
Frank reached up and grabbed Trevor's arm, pulling him away. "Come on, Trevor. Let's go"
"But that's the wrong guy! That's not the-... oh, hades!"
"You never let up, do you?" Frank smiled at him as they moved across the store. "How do you know, Trevor? They're both total strangers to you. You've never even seen them before. How do you know who belongs with who?"
Trevor shrugged. "I just know. I can't explain love. No one can. Not even cute but repressed brunette psycologists. It's just a feeling. And on the very rare occasions when I don't get that feeling-" Trevor looked up, and a smile grew on his face when he saw that the woman he had been talking to was laughing with the man she was now standing in front of, obviously enjoying his company. "... then sometimes blind luck works. Come on, Frank. Let's get out of here."
Carrying bags of clothes, Frank and Trevor walked down the sidewalk on their way back to the hotel. As they walked neither said anything, not really used to each other's company. Frank's eyes were on the sidewalk passing beneath them, his thoughts held by an introspective mood.
"Trevor, can I ask you something?"
"Why aren't you with someone, Trevor?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean... why is it that love's greatest advocate isn't in love himself?"
"Who says I'm not?"
Frank looked over at him, and Trevor brushed off the comment with a false laugh. "Ha. I'm just kidding. No, I'm too busy to fall in love. A deity's work is never done, right?"
Frank watched him with a smile. "Surely you're not telling me you haven't been attracted to a woman once or twice. For instance, that blond in the store..."
"By the gods! Are you kidding me? Of course I've been attracted. You don't know how hard it's been. Have you seen the women down here on earth? Some of them could melt butter off an igloo. I don't know how anyone gets any work done down here. Actually, I don't know how anyone gets anything done down here."
"Anyone you're attracted to in particular?"
Trevor seemed skeptical. "Wait. Did Claire put you up to this?"
Frank blinked. "Why do you ask?"
"She put you up to this, didn't she? Look, if the person you're talking about is Mara-"
Frank interrupted him softly. "Claire didn't put me up to this, and the person I'm talking about isn't Mara."
Trevor paused, suddenly nervous as he stopped on the sidewalk. "Then I-I don't know what you're talking about."
Frank didn't pause. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. I think you're attracted to Claire."
Dumbstruck, Trevor stood there silently, looking away.
Without a hint of anger, Frank continued. "What exactly do you feel for Claire, Trevor?"
Uncomfortable, Trevor didn't answer. He tried to make light of the question as they started walking again. "Well... of course I'm attracted to Claire. She's kinda, sorta, totally gorgeous. I'm a guy. What guy wouldn't be? Well, Oedipus wouldn't. But that's because of his 'eye problem'. And that strange recurring mother fetish of his..."
"You didn't answer my question, Trevor."
"I... I thought I did. Let's face it. Your girlfriend's a babe. There. I said it."
Frank laughed softly. "Ok. We can agree on that."
"But we both know that's got nothing to do with what I was talking about."
Trevor didn't say anything, as they both walked several more steps.
"Trevor, why haven't you asked Claire out on a date? I mean a real date. Just you and her."
Trevor still felt uncomfortable. "Because there's nothing between us. Look, she's my doctor. I'm her patient. Believe me, I should know this since she's drilled it into my head often enough. Her professional ethics would never allow it. Besides, I'm not her type. Haven't you snuck a peek at the book she's writing about me? She thinks I'm a nut."
Frank chuckled softly. "No she doesn't. She's... very fond of you. She talks about you all the time. She's actually, sometimes, very complimentary about you. I know she... cares about you a lot."
Trevor didn't know what to say. "Well..."
Frank spoke softly. "You're in love with her, aren't you?"
Trevor exhaled, having heard enough of Frank's blunt words. He stopped and turned to face him. "Wait a second. Why are you telling me this?"
Frank looked at Trevor, eyes full of sincerity, and a little sadness. "Because I love her. Because I love her too much to stand in her way."
Trevor looked at him closely, trying to make him see. He touched his shoulder. "Frank, you have nothing to worry about. You're not standing in her way. She loves you. You two belong together."
With that, Trevor turned and continued to walk towards the hotel. Frank stayed where he was as he watched Trevor leave, lost in his own thoughts and not knowing what to think.