Jaclyn paused, finding this more difficult to say than she would have anticipated. Her voice was soft, strained. "I just think... I don't want to lie to Trevor anymore."
Champ lowered his head, taking a sad breath as he held the phone to his ear. "I see. So you want to tell him the truth?"
"Yes. Well... not the whole truth. But pretending to be interested in you, I don't know if I can do that anymore. It doesn't feel right. I want to concentrate more on Trevor."
Champ didn't know what to say. He'd been right. He didn't like where this had gone. "So. What do we do?"
"This has gone too far, Champ. It's time to end it."
A long pause. "OK."
"But, I don't want Trevor to find out about what we did."
Champ nodded slowly. "I... I understand. We'll figure something out."
"Well, I think we could always say you're going back to Debbie. We could stage it that way. We'll get me, you, Debbie, and Trevor all in one place. Then you could explain that you gave us a try. You really did. But you realized that even though you... you like me, you really don't have any romantic feelings for me." Jaclyn waited for Champ's response.
"Right," he said softly. "Umm, right. Yeah. No romantic feelings."
She contiued. "I mean, seeing what a ham Debbie was today, I'm sure she'd love to do it."
Champ's voice was level. "I don't doubt it." He closed his eyes tightly. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Jaclyn paused, thinking about it. Her voice was quiet as she replied, and not as certain as it should be. "Yeah. I'm... I'm sure. Besides, maybe after Trevor sees my unrequited love for you, I can still win him over as he comforts me. You know, the heart broken dumpee pushed aside for another. What do you think...? Champ? Are you still there?"
Silence for a moment. "Yeah, I'm here. I know what you're getting at. Heart broken. That'll be easy enough."
"So you'll call Debbie? See when we can do this?"
"Yeah. I'll call her this afternoon. We'll figure something out. Umm, I'd better go."
"OK," Jaclyn seemed subdued. Her words were unexpectedly awkward as she said them. "Yeah. Me too. I'd need to get out of here before Claire shows up. Thank you again."
He paused. "It was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?"
She smiled. "It was. It really was. All of it. Even if it doesn't... well, it was fun Champ. Thank you."
Champ smiled too. "You're welcome. I'll... call you tonight."
She nodded, even though he couldn't see her. "Ok. Bye."
Slowly Jaclyn hung up the phone and looked at it, not certain why she felt a little sad that the little ruse they had been running was coming to an end so soon. Glancing up at the hallway, she didn't see Claire anywhere in sight, and she decided to make a run for it. Grabbing her things, Jaclyn hurried down the hall, leaving the desk empty and silent behind her for several seconds.
The door to Claire's office slowly opened, and she looked carefully around to make sure Jaclyn was gone. She stared in shock at what she'd heard. Quickly Claire grabbed her things, leaving the computer on and rushing off to find Trevor.
Trevor answered his door.
"Claire! What are you doing here Sparky? Manage to tear yourself from some somatic sack time with 'hammer man' Frank? Or was it the couch this time? The kitchen sink? Linen closet? Bowl of Jello? Observation deck of the Sears tower?"
Claire pushed past Trevor and into the apartment, her expression serious. "Trevor, we need to talk."
Trevor gave her a look, wondering what was going on. Slowly he closed the door. "Ohhh... kay." He followed her into the apartment. "What have I done now?"
"Nothing Trevor. It's not you." She looked around the apartment. "Are you alone?"
"Yeah. But I have somewhere I have to be later, so we'll have to skip the foreplay..." He began to lift his shirt before stopping with a smile, noticing she wasn't in the mood for jokes.
"Trevor, this is serious."
He paused, realizing she meant it. "Sure. Fire away."
"I was at my office when I overheard Jaclyn on the phone outside. She didn't know I was there. She was talking to Champ."
"Don't worry Claire. It's ok to be a little voyeuristic sometimes. Was it a steamy conversation? Was your credit card charged by the minute?"
Claire gave him a sad look. "Trevor, its all a lie. All of it. Jaclyn has just been using Champ as an excuse to spend time with you so that maybe you would fall in love with her. Champ's in on it too. I'm sorry, Trevor."
Trevor smiled, not surprised. "I know."
Claire looked at him, shocked. Her voice was suddenly angry. "You KNOW?"
"Yeah. Of course I know. I've known all along. I'm the god of love. Don't you think I've played every game in the book over the last 5000 years?"
Claire sputtered, not sure what to yell at him first. "Trevor! You knew about this? I was wrong. It was you! Why have you let it continue?"
"It's all just part of the game of love, Claire. It's-"
"This isn't a game, Trevor! These are our friends! Jaclyn could get hurt! She's a real breathing person Trevor. With real feelings for you, or what she thinks are real feelings for you. Fragile, hopeful, caring feelings that you can't just toy with or move around like a pawn in a chess match! She's not just some target, some bead to slide on your string to keep score!"
"I know that, Claire. I know how she feels about me. But I also know there's something real between her and Champ, and-"
"And so you're leading her on?!"
"I'm not leading her on. I've never done anything but try to steer her towards Champ."
"But you know she's only acting to get close to you! That's leading her on, Trevor!"
His voice rose in response to hers. "Jaclyn only thinks she's acting, Claire! But those feelings are real. And I know Champ feels the same way-"
"You can't just use people like this, Trevor. And I won't let you. It's over. I'm telling them that we know." She turned angrily to leave.
"Claire, wait!" He sped around her, spreading himself over the door and blocking her path.
"Get out of my way, Trevor."
"No, wait. Just hear me out. Please."
Claire calmly reached into her purse and started to walk away from the door, grabbing her cell phone. She quickly typed in Jaclyn's number, making Trevor's eyes go wide.
"Jaclyn, hi. This is Claire. I needed to tell you-"
Trevor suddenly sped past, grabbing the phone from Claire's ear. Claire instantly turned and bolted for the door as if she knew that was exactly what Trevor would do. With a laugh she thought she had reached it but Trevor was too fast for her, blocking it again.
He lifted the phone to his ear, the line still open. "Jaclyn? Hello?" He shook his head and turned it off. "The current temperature is 76 degrees."
Claire looked at him. "This is not the sort of thing I would tell her over the phone. Some of us actually care about people's feelings."
"Claire, please. Hear me out."
"Listening to you's not really high on my priority list right now, Trevor. It's a couple of slots beneath simply strangling you." Claire glared at him. "Are you going to lock me up?"
Trevor thought about it, trying not to smile. "Would you be into it if I locked you up?"
Claire turned, stepping towrads the windows. "This place has a fire escape, doesn't it?"
"Fine." Trevor surrendered, stepping aside and opening the door for her as he tossed her back her cell phone. "Here. Take it."
Claire looked at him. "Thank you, Trevor." She started to walk out.
"Let me just ask you one question, Claire."
She stopped, before turning slowly towards him. "What." she said angrily, waiting for the question.
"That first day at Taggerty's. You saw something between them. You can't deny that. Otherwise you would never have gone along with this in the first place."
Claire sighed. "Well... maybe I did see something. But things are different now."
"No, they're not. They're on the cusp. You know how it is between friends, Claire. Between co-workers, doctors, patients etc. I think their too used to the inertia of being friends. It's scary to risk that. Objects at rest stay at rest."
"Yeah, and objects in motion tend to crash into each other, Trevor."
"Look, I just need a little more time. One of them will admit their real feelings. Then the other will follow. One of them will crack. I know it. I thought I had them today when I almost got them to kiss, but then Debbie ruined it all. But it'll work! I know it will! If we just give them time to figure it out. Just one more day. Twenty four hours. That's all I'm asking."
Claire paused. "One more day? That's all?"
Claire reluctantly conceeded. "Fine. One more day. But only one. Then we try to break it to her gently that you're not interested in her."
"Thank you, Claire. I know what I'm doing. I'm an old pro at these games."
"I really hope that's true Trevor. For Jaclyn's sake." She started to leave, but stopped, turning to him again. "So let me get this straight. Jaclyn was faking being attracted to Champ because she's attracted to you. Champ was faking not being attracted to Jaclyn because he actually was. And you were faking that you didn't know that they were faking because you think they're really not faking at all. And now you want me to fake that I don't know what I know you know about what they know." She tried to double check it all in her head. "Right. So is there anyone here who isn't faking?"
Trevor smiled. "I could always ask Frank about your sex life. But his answer might not be so flattering."
Claire glared at him. "Goodbye, Trevor." He started to close the door behind her, but she pushed it open, sticking her face back in. "ONE day. That's all."
Trevor nodded. "I understand."
"Fine," Claire said, before she turned and left.
Trevor finally closed the door behind her, taking a breath.
"Whew. That was close." He walked away.
The sky was just beginning to get dark outside Jaclyn's apartment as she laughed, sitting there with Champ and Debbie. They were all going over the basics of the 'breakup' scene tomorrow between Jaclyn and Champ, trying to figure out what to expect. Suddenly there was a knock at the door and, still giggling, Jaclyn got up and went to answer it. She was shocked to find Trevor waiting in the hallway outside.
Quickly Jaclyn moved into the hall to join him, closing the door behind her and stepping away from it before Trevor could notice Champ and Debbie inside.
"Trevor, what are you doing here?"
Trevor looked at Jaclyn carefully, trying to think about how to phrase this. "Jaclyn, could we go for a walk?"
"Sure... sure Trevor." Jaclyn felt nervous, not liking unexpected surprises where she had no idea what was going on. "I'd love to. Let's go."
Trevor looked at her door. "Don't you need to lock up first?"
"No. Claire doesn't pay me enough to have anything worth stealing. Let's go, Trevor."
He smiled, knowing that wasn't true. "Then why do you do it?"
Jaclyn leaned into him, bumping his shoulder with hers. "Perks..."
She led him away after one more nervous glance at her front door, walking with him down the hallway and taking the first flight of steps down.
After a moment the door opened fractionally, and Champ snuck a glance out, just catching a glimpse of Jaclyn and Trevor leaving. He carefully closed the door again.
Champ turned to Debbie as they stood in Jaclyn's apartment. They had both gone silent when they had heard Trevor's voice outside speaking with Jaclyn. But now Champ took a deep breath. "It's OK. We can talk now. They're gone."
Debbie laughed. "Trevor does show up unexpectedly. A little like love I guess."
Champ didn't seem to hear, moving over to the window and watching patiently. After a few moments, he saw the the two of them, stepping out of the building and walking away down the sidewalk and into the shadows. As Champ watched them leave, he felt an empty feeling of longing grow inside him. He sighed. If this worked in the end, he would be seeing Trevor and Jaclyn together far more often. And Jaclyn would never know how he really felt. He had to admit that Jaclyn and Trevor did seem to be getting closer. But somehow he didn't want Jaclyn walking away with Trevor, he wanted her walking away with him. Hadn't the two of them grown closer too?
Sadly, Champ let the curtain slip shut as he turned back to Debbie. As he looked at her, it occurred to him that he had never felt the same way for Debbie as he did for Jaclyn. And he never would.
Debbie was oblivious to Champ's reaction, instead leaning over and taking a quick peek through the curtains herself. "So. They're going for a walk. Not bad. Jaclyn may get her god yet." Debbie smiled as she turned back and put her arms around Champ. "Then she'll have Trevor, you'll have me, and everyone will be happy."
"Yeah," Champ said distantly. He didn't even see Debbie in front of him. Instead he was remembering. Remembering Jaclyn smiling and laughing with him over the past few nights as they had worked on this. Why did he feel like time was running out?
Debbie kissed him lightly on the lips. "This is a nice thing you're doing, Champ. Helping Jaclyn and everything. So. The plan for tomorrow. Could we go over my motivation again?"