Jaclyn knew she was in trouble the second she walked into Claire's office. She hadn't moved more than three feet into the room when she noticed Claire giving her a bright smile from where she was seated behind her desk. That left no doubt in Jaclyn's mind, something was definitely up. Cautiously she approached, watching Claire with a wary eye. Without a word Claire rose and came towards her, unable to conceal her excitement for a girlish moment before stopping herself and trying to continue with more casual motions that in the end fooled no one. Jaclyn gave her a level look, not used to seeing Claire this way.
Claire nodded as she stood there. "So... Jaclyn. Hello. Ummm. How, how are you... Today?"
Claire flashed a nervous smile, but deep inside she cringed slightly at the awkwardness in the air. She already knew she was bombing at this. How did Trevor make it seem so easy? With her normal patients it was simpler. She didn't have a personal attachment with them like she had with Jaclyn. And they were usually willing participants. On the other hand, Trevor managed to take complete strangers, more often than not unwilling ones that thought he was crazy, and convince them they'd found their true love. It was harder than he made it look. Playfully, Claire poked at Jaclyn's arm, stiff and unconvincing.
"So, quite a day yesterday. Don't you think?" Claire was embarrassed at how badly this was going. "I mean you and Champ. Wow, you really had us fooled. Yeah... but how do you really feel? About Champ, I mean. Because he'd be lucky to have you. You're sweet, attractive... you've got a great figure, nice..." she fumbled for the right word, "teeth."
Jaclyn stared at her. "Dr. Allen, are you coming on to me?"
"No!" She said too quickly, before slowing again. "I mean... not that I wouldn't. If I were interested. In that sort of thing." Her hands motioned uselessly between them. "Which I'm not. But not because of you," she clarified anxiously. "Because if I were... you know, interested. Then I probably would be. Interested. In you. Which I'm not. Excuse me, Jaclyn. Could we both agree to forget I was talking just now?"
Jaclyn looked at her as the side of her lips curved up fractionally. "Not a problem," she said.
Claire took a deep breath and started fresh. "Hello, Jaclyn! How are you? Are you interested in Champ Terrace at all in a romantic way?"
Jaclyn smiled. "Hmmm, very straight forward of you. Why are you so nervous asking me that? You do this kind of stuff everyday."
"Well... sure. But I usually react to problems in existing relationships, instead of forging new ones. Relationships, not problems I mean. This is more of Trevor's territory."
"I won't tell him if you don't, Dr. Allen."
"Besides, you're a close friend. I really don't see you in the same light as my patients. I just think you and Champ could be good together. Don't you find him attractive?"
"Sure, he's very attractive." Jaclyn placed the folders she was carrying on Claire's desk and turned to walk back out. Claire followed behind. "He's quite a handsome man, Dr. Allen. But I don't think that I'm his type."
They both walked back into the hall. Claire seemed amused by Jaclyn's assertion. "Are you telling me that Champ doesn't like smart attractive women?"
"No, I'm saying the women he does like tend to be more flashy. More uptown and exotic, more chic. More... well, more more." She stopped as she moved behind her reception desk. Claire stared at her in silence, not understanding. Jaclyn made a stretching motion, followed by outlining an hourglass shape. "You know, curves and legs."
"Oh Jaclyn, don't sell yourself short-..." Jaclyn glanced up as Claire's eyes widened, realizing what she had said ."Sorry. Sorry. What I meant was that you've got curves too. Face it. You've got a great body. I'm sure he's noticed."
"Thanks, Claire. But I'm still getting a K.D. Lang vibe here," she teased.
"All I'm saying is that you two could make a very cute couple. And be honest with me, Jaclyn. that wasn't all acting at the bar, was it?"
Jaclyn's sigh was perhaps a touch too hard. "It wasn't very convincing, either. Acting or not, Champ didn't pick up on whatever was real. I guess I'm just not much of an expert on flirting."
"Come on, Jaclyn. You flirt with Trevor all the time."
"But that's easy. Like preaching to the converted. He likes everything."
Claire nodded. "And you were doing fine with Champ too. You really had him on his heels. You just need to," Claire smiled and softly poked her finger into mid-air, "topple him."
"I suppose," Jaclyn paused, as if she were thinking about it. "OK, I'll admit it. I like him a lot. But I really don't know that much about him. Not enough to know if he feels the same way, at least." Jaclyn sat down at her desk and began to work.
Claire walked slowly up and leaned back against Jaclyn's desk, still eager for her chance to show Trevor up and not giving in to Jaclyn's lack of enthusiasm. "Well, I could help you if you like..."
Jaclyn seemed reluctant. "That's very sweet, Dr. Allen. But you know less about Champ than I do."
"I know plenty about Champ," Claire said, but even she didn't seem to believe it.
"Really? then tell me this. What movie does Champ always cry at the end of, every single time?"
Claire took a shot in the dark. "Charolette's web? Old yeller?"
"No. Pretty in Pink."
Claire was speechless. "You're kidding, right?"
Jaclyn shook her head no, smiling.
Claire pursed her lips. "Well you got me there."
"Don't feel bad, Dr. Allen. I'm really grateful that you offered. But what I really need is someone who spends a lot of time with him. Besides, I'd hate to get our friendship caught between me and Champ if things went bad. But thank's anyway, Dr. Allen."
Jaclyn turned back to her work and began to go through some files. Claire stood next to her, looking at nothing, considering things but undeterred.
Claire paused what she was about to say and lifted a finger into mid air. "I'll get back to you..." She turned and went back into her office, already planning to place a call to Taggerty's.
After she had left, Jaclyn looked up and leaned forward, looking into the office at Claire. She pulled back with a smile on her face, satisfied with herself.
"Perfect," Jaclyn whispered.
It was mid-morning when Trevor walked unannounced into Champ's bedroom. Champ was sleeping face down on his bed, his serene expression filled with contentment as he lay wrapped in a deep slumber that he embraced whole heartily. Without a sound, Trevor tip toed forward, approaching his sleeping form. Looking down at him, Trevor realized most people wouldn't interrupt that image of such contented sleep. But then again, most people weren't Trevor.
Trevor brough his arms up from behind his back and extended them slowly towards Champ's head. One hand a large cooking pot by the handle, the other a large metal spoon. Both objects hovered inches from Champ's ear, unnoticed as Champ still slept soundly beneath, completely unaware.
"WAKE UP! WAKE UP! Rise and shine, sunshine!" Trevor banged loudly on the pot in a continuous volley of boisterous noise the moment he had began to yell into Champ's ear.
Champ woke instantly, jerking up in a frenzied panic which immediately caused him to bang his head soundly against the pot Trevor was still hammering on, just inches above him.
"Ouch! What? What is it? Trevor! What are you doing?"
Champ blinked his eyes as he rolled over to look up, wincing at the noise once he finally saw Trevor standing above him pounding on the pot. Champ looked around, confused.
Trevor continued to yell. "Wake up, time to wake up and grab the day by any convenient uncomfortable organ! Emergency! Emergency! On your feet soldier!" Trevor made siren sounds as Champ finally scrambled out of bed to get away from him. He hurried over to Trevor and promptly grabbed the spoon out of his hands.
"What the hell are you doing, Trevor? Stop that right now! I was sleeping for god's sake!"
"This isn't for my sake, it's for your sake. That's why I brought the percussive cookware. Didn't the spoon and the banging make that clear?"
Champ waved the spoon menacingly at him. "I'm about to start making Cupid-kabobs unless you tell me what's going on. I guarantee you won't like where I'm starting from."
"I had to wake you," Trevor said seriously. "We have an emergency."
"What is the building on fire?" Champ lost some of his anger as he ran to a window to look out.
"What? Burglary? Have we been robbed?"
"Even worse than that..."
"What then? Tornado? Earthquake? IRS audit?"
Trevor shook his head. "You suck at this. Not even in the vicinity of getting warmer..."
Champ waved the spoon. "You know the paramedics are going to have a lot of fun extracting this..."
Trevor continued. "I'm surprised you didn't notice the emergency when you got out of bed."
"What, that my next roommate shouldn't have an decorator's touch for padded walls? That next time I should check if there's insanity running through his imaginary family?"
Trevor spoke in a little boy voice, stretching the last syllable. "That's not it---"
"You really didn't notice? I'm shocked. Not even when you rolled over?"
"Notice what, Trevor?" Champ was exasperated.
"That you didn't roll over somebody! Last time I checked, and believe me I did measure it out, your bed was still capable of holding two people. If the gods smile on you, three."
Champ moaned when he realized what Trevor was talking about. He should have known. Grabbing the pot out of Trevor's hands, he dropped the spoon into it loudly before heading for the kitchen. "That's the emergency you woke me for?" He asked over his shoulder as he walked.
Trevor continued as they both descended the spiral staircase into the living room. "Yes!" he said. "The worse kind of emergency. Don't you see that your bedroom is sorely understaffed and understuffed? So many helpless bedsprings are not realizing their potential. It brings a tear to a god's eye. You live with the god of love yet you're still sleeping solo. Come on! You're making me look bad here."
Champ placed the pot in the sink. "Yeah, that and the fact that your resume' looks like something from a Caesar's palace employee, except crazy. So I've been sleeping alone lately. So what. I don't know what you expect me to do about it."
Trevor spread his hands. "Hold tryouts! Find someone to fill the position of the position. Get in the race and put up some checkered bedsheets." Trevor pleaded. "Come on! Let... me... help you!" The over acted entreaty Trevor was spouting fell on deaf ears.
"Not on your life, Trevor. And you don't know how dangerously close to true that statement is..."
"That's not much of a threat since I'm a-"
"Hey, I can always find a bigger spoon. Just keep your arrows aimed somewhere else. I've seen the collateral damage when you start getting bow happy."
Trevor nodded, not really hearing the last point. "I do have an itchy bow finger that I'm dying to scratch..."
Champ glared at him. "The point is that I'll find someone on my own. Thank you very much."
"Yeah? Well there's a mattress upstairs that's giving an amazingly mute testimonial as to how successful you've been in that department. You're still shopping in the bored and lonely isle."
"You know," Champ pushed past him, "I've got some old golf clubs in the closet. The driver might be a better fit. Hate to waste a good spoon."
Trevor followed behind, still trying his case. "Besides, the first part's done. I already have someone in mind..."
Champ turned, curious. "Who?"
Trevor smiled. "I love it when your coy. You know who. A certain fire haired secretary who you were playing footsie with yesterday at Taggerty's."
Champ sounded surprised. "Jaclyn? Check your radar, Trevor. We told you already, that was just a joke."
"Yeah, and Cerebus is just your run of the mill three headed dog-"
"Look, Trevor. I'm being honest here. She's not interested. Why don't you believe what I'm telling you?"
"Because I saw your last play." Trevor explained.
Confused, Champ looked over at Trevor, feeling lost in left field. Trevor's expression seemed to imply that he thought it was clear what he meant. "I'm sorry Trevor. Did I miss a memo covering what the hell you're talking about?"
Trevor grabbed Champ's shoulder in sympathy. "It's nothing to be ashamed of. You're a good actor, Mr. Terrace. But you're not that good."
"Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence..."
Trevor shrugged. "All I'm saying is that there was some part of you that wasn't faking it, that's all."
Champ stared into the distance for a moment. "Maybe..."
Trevor's enthusiasm returned. "And neither was she! At least not all they way. She's got a thing for you. You fell the same! That's the sort of thing that slides beads. The god of love can recognize things like this."
Champ couldn't believe his ears. "A thing for me? That's what you saw? For me."
Trevor was unshaken. "Absolutely."
Champ shook his head. "Time for Olympus to get a new optometrist."
Trevor crossed his eyes before blinking them back with a smile. "Look, I think you two could work out. Stare me in the crossed eyes and tell me you don't sneak a glance when you think she's not looking."
Champ said nothing, not knowing how to respond.
Trevor pressed on. "Tell me you don't like the way the line of her chin curves into her neck. that you don't notice the way she touches behind her ear when she's thinking. Or how her eyes light up when she laughs. Tell me you don't feel better when she flashes that glowing smile at you. That you don't watch the way her lips clutch the straw in her drink so very soft and delicate. When you're together you have fun with her. She has fun with you! Tell me you don't see all that."
Uncomfortable, Champ looked away, unable to face him. Trevor was hitting way to close to home. Closer than he thought anyone would have noticed. "I don't know, Trevor."
Trevor lifted his hand. "Sure you know him. I'm right here."
Champ felt himself begin to concede, unable to keep the hope from his voice. "I'm not saying I'd be against the idea...."
Trevor nodded. "Exactly. So why not give it a go?"
"Because Jaclyn's a friend of mine. What if it didn't work out?"
"Yeah, but what if it did? You've got to weigh the good with the bad, man. And if you ask me, she's one whole lot of good."
"Well, you're right about that." Champ agreed, looking at Trevor meaningfully. "Anyone with half a brain at all would be crazy to turn her down."
Trevor didn't catch what Champ was implying. "Without a doubt. So what do you say? Let me help you make it happen."
Champ shook his head, dead set against Trevor's help. "Oh no! Not a chance!"
Trevor arms hovered before him in unexpected shock, having believed he'd closed the deal. "Why not? Waiting for the next god of love to fall into your apartment?" He said in disbelief.
"Trevor, when you go up to someone on the street with your little Cupid song and dance and set them up, it's one thing. Some of them might actually believe you have some magical elixir. Or they might think that you might accidentally find a random insight that might help them, I mean I don't really know. But face it, even nut cases can be charming when they're not your roommate. My problem is that I actually know you."
"You don't think that I have insight? I have so much insight that I can see through myself."
"I can see through you too, Trevor. And I've seen you fail far to often to have much confidence in you."
Trevor held his hands to his heart as he stumbled back, pretending to be in pain. "Try again, I think you just winged me..." Overtly emotional, he stumbled into Champ, who stared off into the distance with annoyance, trying to stay calm. Trevor collapsed to the floor with an exaggerated moan.
Champ ignored the whisper beneath him. "Avenge my death..."
Then Trevor jumped back to his feet and smiled. "Not bad, Huh? Maybe you could put me in your play. I'd love to work with you again after that Sunset and Vaughn gig we did. You do good work, man. By the way, the guy you're playing didn't smell anywhere near as nice as you."
Champ glared at him, not amused. "Thanks. Look, I'd love it if me and Jaclyn could work out, but..." Champ paused as if realizing he was being too honest, instead of remembering his lines. "But I need someone who know her likes and dislikes. Someone who spends everyday with her. Someone who's a little more professional at handling relationships instead of the shotgun approach that you use. Basically someone... who isn't you."
Trevor smiled, as if he saw something he liked and expected in Champ's words. "Someone professional, huh? Assuming your not talking about the girl on fourth street, I'll see what I can do."
Trevor nodded as he considered it, and Champ said nothing. Finally Trevor looked at him.
"Look, I've got to go man," Trevor's voice sounded as if what he said were of upmost importance to life in general. "My shift... starts in a hour." Abruptly he turned and began to leave, performance over. But before he was out the door he stopped and turned back to Champ.
"And by the way, you're a better actor than I thought, Mr. Terrace."
Confused, Champ looked at him, not certain what he meant by that.
Trevor smiled to himself, certain he was right. "Never mind. Look, we'll make this work. I'll find a way. See ya, man." Trevor left, closing the door behind him.
Champ let out a breath as he stood in his apartment alone. Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea after all. Still, it did seem to be going well. He picked up the phone receiver from its cradle and carried it to the front door. Champ took a quick peek into the hallway outside, but Trevor was gone. Closing the door, Champ walked into the apartment as he dialed in a number.
Jaclyn sat at her desk in Claire's office, bathed in the morning sunlight from the window behind her, doing some paperwork, when her phone rang. She reached over and picked it up, nestling it against her ear.
"Dr. Allen's office. May I help you?"
Back in his apartment, Champ looked again at the front door where Trevor had left. "Free to talk?" he asked.
Smiling, Jaclyn looked around the office. "Sure. Claire stepped out for a second. I think she mentioned that she was going to Taggerty's. Did he do it?"
Champ nodded, enjoying the sound of her voice in his ear. "Like clockwork. Trevor's more reliable than old faithful."
Jaclyn laughed. "Probably older too."
"Yeah right." Champ smiled, not believing that for a second.
"Well. I did my best on this end," Jaclyn said with excitement. "I think Claire got the message. How'd it go over there?"
"Just like we both thought. I told him I needed someone with a more professional perspective. The thing is... he told me he didn't think I was acting."
"Well that's good," Jaclyn blinked. "Isn't it?"
"Champ. What's wrong?"
"I have a date Wednesday. I was thinking of cancelling it."
Jaclyn's voice lost some of its enthusiasm. "Really? Who with?"
"Debbie. A girl from the play I'm in. She's only an extra, but she's hoping to break into the acting business. Not sure she has the chops for it."
Jaclyn frowned. "Why would you want to cancel your date?"
"I really don't want it to get in the way of our plan. What if Trevor saw Debbie and me together?"
Jaclyn blinked, surprised. "You mean Trevor doesn't know?"
"God no the god doesn't know. I made sure first thing to keep her away from Trevor. But it might make this harder to pull off."
Jaclyn paused. "I think you should go."
Champ found himself feeling... disappointed. "Really? You think so?"
"Sure. We can... work around it. Won't be a problem."
"I don't know." He said reluctantly.
Jaclyn tried to laugh. "Don't worry, Champ. We're giving Trevor a taste of his own medicine, remember? I think if he just gave me a chance..."
Champ smiled, unseen by her on his end. "He'd see how lucky he is that you're interested."
The compliment definitely made her smile. "Here's hoping. Where was Trevor going, anyway?"
"He had a mid-day shift at Taggerty's."
Jaclyn nodded. "Perfect. If things keep going as they should, we'll be able to move on to Act II. Can you come over tonight? We need to brainstorm some more."
Champ's face brightened at the thought. "Umm, sure. But how do you know they're doing what we want them to?"
"Come on, Champ. Who knows the two of them better than the two of us."
"You have a point."
Jaclyn nestled the phone closer to the side of her face. "I can tell you exactly what's happening. Trevor will see Claire at Taggerty's. He'll walk straight up to her without preamble and they'll both say-"
"We have to switch!"
Trevor and Claire spoke in unison, surprising each other. Trevor leaned back from over the bar, nodding his approval as he stood behind it. Claire was sitting on a barstool in front of him, but she said nothing further. They smiled at each other in mutual amazement.
"Symmetry's bitchin', isn't it?" Trevor said with satisfaction.
He reached under the bar to grab an apron. As he tied it around his waist to begin his shift, Claire hid her smile behind the soda she had started while waiting for Trevor to show up. She said nothing, enjoying the moment. Still nodding happily, Trevor turned away.