Claire's bedroom was still dark when her phone rang. Half awake, she reached clumsily across Frank where he slept beside her and picked up the phone. Claire sighed once to try and clear her thoughts, before lifting the receiver to her ear and answering in a sleepy voice.
It was Trevor's voice on the other end. "I love it when you sound so post post bedbumping. Did you remember to pad your headboard like the paramedics told you?"
"Trevor?" She spoke in a sleepy daze.
Unlike Claire, Trevor was definitely very much awake. "Rise and shine, valentine. Early bird get's the... well, worm's such an unflattering term for it."
"Trevor," Claire said again with clarity, snapping awake when she remembered they had plans for the morning. She quickly rose out of bed, an eagerness in her voice. "I'm sorry. I overslept."
"Pacing, Claire. It's all about pacing. Is Frank there? Tell him it's a marathon, not a sprint."
Claire realized she didn't have time to talk. "Look, I'll get dressed and meet you at my office. See you there, bye!"
Trevor tried to get in the last word. "If I may remind you, the getting dressed part is optional-"
Claire hung up on him in mid-sentence and rushed to her closet. She began to pull out clothing, tossing them onto the bed and across Frank's sleeping form. She turned around and stopped when she realized he was watching her.
"Who was that you were talking to?" He asked calmly, completely awake.
"Oh, that was Trevor. I'm supposed to meet him and I'm already late. We're trying to set up some mutual friends of ours. I was barely able to convince him that we should coordinate our plans and discuss what we're going to do."
"Trevor, I see. You seem eager to see him. I suppose that happens after spending so much time with him." Frank said it simply, without a hint of malice and maybe with a touch of mirth.
Claire stopped looking through her closet and sighed, not catching his tone of voice and assuming it was about what it always seemed to be about in her experience. She turned around. "Why are all my boyfriends always so jealous of Trevor?"
Frank laughed. "I'm not jealous. Just curious."
Claire looked at him and realized he was telling the truth. Frank's eyes were serene, untroubled. She wondered how he always stayed so calm, no matter what. She could tell he was just being honest. Not a hint of jealousy.
And for some reason that came out of nowhere, that angered Claire. "Wait. Why aren't you jealous?"
He smiled at her. "I don't get jealous, Claire. Never have."
Claire rolled her eyes as she grabbed another shirt from the closet. "That's a lie..."
"No, it isn't." He thought about it. "On second thought, maybe I should clarify that a little. I don't get jealous about you."
She blinked, not understanding. "I'm sorry, I lost my decoder ring. Could you tell me what the hell you're talking about so I can decide whether to be offended or not?"
"I don't get jealous because I love you."
Claire paused. "You love me?" It was the first time that he had said that.
Frank nodded as if it had been obvious all along. "I love you. And I won't begrudge or admonish any feelings you have because they're a part of you. I'm just curious. How do you feel about Trevor?"
Claire thought about the question, before shrugging it off. "He's a friend. A patient I'm writing a book about. That's all." She continued to hunt for clothing.
"I understand. Research for a book demands a lot of your time with him. It's probably easy too, since" Frank's eyes glinted happily as he teased her, "Since Trevor can be quite charming."
It had the desired affect. Claire looked over at him. "Couldn't you try to be just a little bit jealous?"
He sighed, enjoying the moment. "Hmm. Maybe. I'll try again. So Claire. That was Trevor on the phone. Where are you two going?"
Claire leaned towards him. "I'm meeting him at my office for another fabulously sweaty morning quickie on my desk."
"Cool." Frank laid back down, trying to get back to sleep. "Tell me if he's a better lover than me when you get back."
Claire nodded slowly, tongue in her cheek. "Oh I can tell you that right now. He's AMAZING. The way he kisses me. The way he holds my naked body. He does this great thing with his hands. Right behind my-"
"OK, I'm up." Frank rose, having heard enough. He moved over into Claire's arms as she smiled at him. Frank pressed a quick series of soft kisses against her mouth, making her giggle against his lips.
Frank breathed in the smell of Claire's neck. She always smelled so perfect. "It would seem," he said, "that Trevor has raised the bar. Maybe I should surpass him again and raise it higher." He kissed her shoulder.
Claire closed her eyes, enjoying his touch. "Who said you surpassed him before?" Frank kissed her specifically behind the ear, making her twitch. "Ok, maybe that did."
Claire caught sight of the clock and slipped suddenly out of his arms while she still had the willpower to do so. "I'm sorry Frank. I've got to go in the next minute or I'll be late. By several... really great hours."
Frank sighed, smiling at her as she darted back into the bathroom to take a shower. "Tell Trevor he should make you buy him breakfast first! Otherwise people will think that he's easy."
Claire smiled as she leaned out of the bathroom door. "Trevor is easy."
She turned and moved towards the shower in a rush, knowing she had a lot to do today. As she passed it, she turned on a small stereo CD player on her counter.
Alone in the bedroom, Frank stood silently as he considered Claire's feelings for Trevor. He looked to the bathroom door as he heard the shower start. The CD Claire had chosen finally began to play.
I need love, love to ease my mind
I need to find, find someone to call mine... my momma said...
You can't hurry love...
A new morning light flowed into Claire's office as Trevor and Claire sat across from each other at her desk. Trevor sat in her chair, after having sprinted to take it first when they had arrived. Claire was showing him a large flow chart spread over her desk. She pointed out the various relationship dynamics the boxes and arrows represented, obviously pleased with her thoroughness and insightful analysis of Champ and Jaclyn.
Trevor nodded, less than impressed as she droned on. While she continued he reached over and took a marker off her desktop. He began drawing arrows and corrections on her flow chart, to Claire's immediate consternation.
Her eyes widened in shock. "Trevor, what are you-"
"This goes here," he said. "This part is just... wrong. This entire section over here that's highlighted, cut that out completely..."
"Trevor stop that!" Her eyes couldn't believe it. "Wait, you can't just-"
Trevor didn't listen to her protests, continuing to alter the diagram. He smiled when he was finished. Tapping Claire's shocked shoulder, he rose to leave. He had to get back to his apartment to meet Jaclyn. Champ was due in Claire's office any minute. Alone, Claire was speechless, looking at all of Trevor's fresh marks. Then she blinked, and began to seriously consider the changes he had made. It was crude, but there might be some relevance to... She stopped with a smile and held the flow chart up, only then realizing that the corrections and arrows Trevor had drawn made the shape of a teddy bear.
No you'll just have to wait,
She said love don't come easy,
It's a game of give and take...
Trevor opened the door to his apartment. Jaclyn stood outside in the hallway, a small smile on her face. Trevor nodded at her with a smile of his own. "Come on in."
Slowly Jaclyn walked into the apartment, looking around nervously as she tried to catch her breath. Gently Trevor guided her to the couch, and Jaclyn felt her heart quicken when he sat down next to her.
"So. Claire tells me you need some help."
Jaclyn nodded. Why were Trevor's eyes always so bright? "Yes. And since you're the expert on Champ..."
"Absolutely. I'm the Champ-spert. Wait. That's sounded...Let's just say I know what he likes." Trevor looked straight into her eyes to emphasize his point. "He likes you."
Jaclyn felt herself blush.
"But he's still a little gun-shy after the whole Lorna thing. He needs you to put out more of a signal. Guys always love when women do that."
Jaclyn looked at him, not knowing what to say. She was still swimming in the sensation of being alone with him.
You can't hurry love, no you'll just have to wait...
Champ knocked on the door to Claire's office. She opened it and smiled at him.
"Champ. Hi! How are you? I'm glad you came."
Champ looked at her with curiosity as she rushed him into her office, caught up in her enthusiastic demeanor. "Umm, thank's for helping me Claire. I'm glad you offered to give me some advice about Jaclyn."
"Well Champ, anything I can do to beat Trev-... I mean help you, is no problem at all. Yeah. Help you. That's what I meant. Here. Sit down."
As he cautiously took a seat he didn't know what to expect. He watched as Claire took a book from the floor behind her desk and placed it on her desk top. Followed by another. And another. Champ swallowed. This was not a good sign.
"Ok," Claire said. "We have a lot of ground to cover, so lets get started." Claire paused as she saw something. "Oh wait. There's a few more texts over here that I forgot." She moved over to pick those up as well.
You've got to trust, give it time,
No matter how long it takes...
Silently, Trevor watched Jaclyn for several seconds. He clapped his hands when he realized no comments were forthcoming from her. "So let's do it. Ok, first thing. We need to turn you from Jackie O," he spoke in a momentarily bored drone. "To Jackie Oh My God! You've got to put a little more boom in your box. A little more curve in your curvature. Surprise with your thighs. There's no such thing as a skirt that's too high or a neckline that's too low."
Jaclyn shook her head lightly, embarrassed. "I don't know, Trevor. That wouldn't really be me."
"Sure it would be you. Absolutely you. All you. Unless you've had some surgical 'enhancements' done I don't know about. Believe me. If you want someone to squeeze the produce you've got to set up the display."
"I suppose..." Jaclyn blinked, surprised at how blunt he was being. She looked at him reluctantly, still uncertain. "What do you think I have, Trevor?"
Trevor smiled as he considered it. "A hurricane of sensuality hiding beneath your nice girl exterior. An amazingly cute smile flashed with an oh... so subtle seductive glance that's just barely there. A figure that makes eyes wander and hearts fonder. Ruby lips that practically beg for that first, cautious kiss..."
Jaclyn took a breath to cool herself. "Ok, Trevor. I get the point. Don't oversell it." She looked at him warmly, enjoying his compliments. "Ruby lips? You like my lips?"
"Absolutely. Totally kissable."
She looked down. "Thank you, Trevor." She felt good being with him as she looked back into his eyes. "I always have trouble kissing new men for the first time. Kissing is something we probably have to work on. I mean what if I'm not very good? Besides, even then I never really know when to just," Jaclyn laughed nervously, " you know... pounce." Her embarrassed smile was infectious, charming.
"I'll give you a hint. Anytime he's breathing will be good. There's no secret pass word. Flight controllers don't wave you in. Just go for it." He touched her shoulder in encouragement.
But how many heartaches, must I stand,
Before I find a love, that let's me live again...
"Now. First off," Claire was saying. "Let's look at what the two of you are looking for."
Champ was seated stiffly in the chair in front of Claire's desk as she paced behind it. He tried to listen, saying nothing.
Claire continued. "We have to find what you have in common. Once we build a foundation of common interests, we can move on to some sort of intimacy facilitator in hopes of igniting an emotional response..."
Champ was still silent, not really positive that wasn't what Claire preferred him to be.
Claire continued to pace back and forth behind her desk, walking past a crumpled flow chart that was discarded in her waste basket. Without looking at him, she recited her detailed plan of attack from memory. She made it sound like a puzzle, a scientific riddle that needed solving. But in Claire's mind it was a challenge. She was going to beat Trevor at his own game once and for all.
Champ went into a daze, but Claire was oblivious to the fact that he didn't share her enthusiasm for her analysis. Champ wondered if she would notice if he left. Glancing over his shoulder, the door beckoned behind him. He started to stand... but decided it wasn't worth the risk. Sitting back down, he forced himself to pay attention once again. It was going to be a long day.
Right now the only thing,
That keeps me hanging on,
When I feel my strength,
Yeah it's almost gone, I remember mama said...
Slowly Jaclyn walked across the apartment as Trevor watched off to one side. Her every step seemed stiff and unbalanced, as she tried to twist herself in ways she wasn't accustomed to.
"OK," Trevor stopped her. "It's not that I don't like the daughter of Frankenstein approach, But I'm pretty sure the man we're trying to attract, you know...Champ, is not a person who has been assembled from left over parts. Put more fluid in your flaunt. Don't tighten up."
Jaclyn sighed and shook her head. "I'm sorry, Trevor. I just feel silly walking up and trying to seduce a wall." She motioned to the empty bricks she had been walking towards.
"Fine," Trevor said. "I'll be your proxy." He pushed a chair into the center of the empty space, taking a seat in front of her. "I'll be Champ. You'll be Jaclyn. I'd be you, but the centaurs tell me I look terrible in a skirt. Believe me, I'm never doing that again. Don't..." Trevor shook his head and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Don't ask what happened."
Jaclyn smiled. "You're Champ?"
"Yeah, just cut my charm quotient in half among other things and you have it." He clapped his hands, rubbing them in anticipation. "Come on, lay some sugar on me."
She nodded. This could work. "Ok. I guess it's worth a shot..."
Jaclyn walked back across the room, facing away from Trevor as she tried to compose herself and keep the excitement from her face. Taking a breath, she turned around.
How long must I wait, how much more can I take,
Before loneliness, will cause my poor heart to break?
"OK, personal space." Claire continued. "Very important. Always respect it. Try to find some common ground that won't scare her off because of any intimacy issues she may have. Which..." She waited unsuccessfully for Champ to answer, "leads back to point seven, the first conversation."
Champ's nose was buried in the book Claire had laid open on the desk before him. He had never even seen half of the words printed there in his life, let alone trying to understand them. Rubbing his forehead in confusion, he looked up as Claire continued.
"Now tell me your first non-intimidating but complimentary, boundary specific, and endearing first line we just worked on. And if at all possible, try to throw in a little sense of mystery." Claire waited expectantly, but only got a blank stare.
"Champ..." she prodded him, waving her hands anxiously between them, trying to get him to respond. "Come on.... Remember? Endearing, sense of mystery... What's you're line?"
Champ gave her a distant look, still confused. "What?"
But when I feel that I can't go on
Those precious words, keep me hanging on,
I remember mama said, you can't hurry love...
Jaclyn approached Trevor again, this time far more smoothly than before. And VERY sexy, almost as if she had been holding back. Her legs moved easily, calmly stepping towards him in eye catching strides that were slow and sultry. Her hips swayed. Her lips parted. It was flawless, and then... she tripped. Quickly Jaclyn tried to regain her footing but failed, falling into Trevor's arms when he rushed forward to catch her. He held her aloft before she could hit the floor. Jaclyn held her breath as she turned her head towards him, feeling Trevor's hands on her back and hip. Their faces were inches apart.
After deciding at last that it was the best he could do, Champ put the pencil down. Reluctantly, he handed the written test to Claire. She took it carefully, putting a pair of glasses on her nose. Champ exhaled, wondering when this would end.
Jaclyn was still in Trevor's arms, both of them uncertain of what to do. Until Jaclyn decided to suddenly... tickle Trevor. To her surprise, it turned out that Trevor was very ticklish, and he squirmed under her fingers, trying not to drop her as she continued.
"Whoa! OK," he said. "Not in the lesson! That's not in the lesson. Stop that!" He couldn't keep the smile off his face as he brought her to her feet.
Jaclyn giggled, but she didn't stop, tickling him with enthusiasm. Trevor couldn't take it, and he backed away.
"Jaclyn.." he warned lightly.
With a happy yell, Jaclyn began chasing him around the apartment.
She said love don't come easy,
It'a a game of give and take..
Claire handed the test back to Champ, it's surface covered in red marks and comments on where he had answered wrong. Champ dropped his head onto her desk with a thud.
Claire sighed. "I don't get it, Champ. I've tried to give you every single insight I have into Jaclyn's character. How she romanticizes the people she's attracted to, how her fear of a real, ordinary relationship pushes her to persue more exotic men. But none of that is showing in any of your test scores. It's almost as if you haven't been listening..."
Champ didn't appear to hear, head still flat against the desk. "Please don't make me do it again," he pleaded weakly.
Claire nodded. "Absolutely. Until we get it right."
Champ began to pound his head against the desk in a hard, steady rather.
Claire blinked. "Umm...Champ. Doesn't that... hurt?"
Jaclyn and Trevor sat at the dining table next to the kitchen, dunking Oreos in milk as they talked. Trevor was very animated as he told her a story, and Jaclyn was listening intently, her eyes glowing with interest. Trevor paused in his narrative, purposely waiting for her to take a sip of milk. Then he told her the punch line.
She suddenly laughed uncontrollably, putting her hand up to her mouth as she spit some milk on the table. She continued to laugh, tears in her eyes. Trevor pulled her hand aside, seeing that the milk had gone through her nose.
"Yes!" He said loudly, raising his hands in triumph. "That's for tickling me!"
She said trust and give it time,
No matter how long it takes...
Somehow, Champ had managed to satisfy Claire enough to escape. He stood at the counter of a flower shop, about to order a dozen roses to be sent to Debbie, his date on Wednesday night. The clerk behind the counter turned to him and responded to his request.
"OK, we can do that Mr. Terrace. And what's the name of the person the roses are for?"
Champ paused, considering it. Suddenly his mind was somewhere else, thinking of a different person. Then before he knew why or how, he gave out a name.
"Jaclyn..." he said. "They're for Jaclyn from Champ. Here, let me," he bent down to write it. "Let me give you the address..."
He scribbled it on the card the clerk provided, still not believing what he was doing. Beside him, a stack of books overshadowed the small note. They were research materials Claire had assigned
Jaclyn walked down the street, feet light on the sidewalk as the afternoon sun poured down at an angle behind her. She was all smiles, having just left Trevor, even though she hadn't wanted to. But there was no reason to force it. It seemed to be going well, and she twirled happily.
Looking up, she suddenly saw Champ walking towards her. He was struggling with a stack of books, trying to keep them in his arms. Slowly they grew closer, pausing before they passed each other.
Without a word, he gave her a look from behind the stack of books, obviously asking how it had went with Trevor. Jaclyn's face beamed, and she gave him a thumbs up. Champ smiled, happy for her. In return she raised her eyebrow at him, wordlessly asking him the same thing. Champ tried to give a thumbs up in response, but the effort caused the entire stack of books to fall quickly out of his arms and onto the sidewalk.
You can't hurry love, no you'll just have to wait,
Love don't come easy, it's a game of give and take...
Somewhere in the city of Chicago, the song faded away...