Claire sighed, uncertain. "Trevor, that's probably not a good idea. It wouldn't be appropriate for you and me to-"
Trevor shook his head angrily. "You can't give me one thing, can you. Look, it's all just a pretense. To help Jaclyn and Champ, all right? I know it's asking a lot to spend a few torturous hours with me-"
"But I guess I'll have to understand if you're busy with Frank." He turned away.
Claire understood a little better. Trevor felt neglected. She should have expected this once she got a boyfriend. She forgot how needy he could be sometimes. She looked at his reactions in a new light, seeing how her rebuff had hurt him. Patient or not, he was her friend. Perhaps Frank wasn't the only relationship she had that needed attention.
"Trevor, about last night. I'm sorry if I couldn't-"
Trevor didn't want to hear it. "Look. I'll be there. Champ will be there. Jaclyn will be there. Just thought you might like to help out like you promised. So what is it Claire. Are you in or out?"
"I don't appreciate ultimatums, Trevor." But she understood this one. Trevor needed some validation. And if she were honest with herself, she wanted to go. She had come close to going with him last night. It wasn't like she didn't want to spend time with Trevor. Frank's words last night suddenly came back to her. That maybe she should go out with Trevor to see if there was any attraction there. She knew that was ridiculous. But in a way, this would prove it to herself. Besides, for some reason she didn't like Trevor being mad at her. Combative, sure. Flattering, always. Flirtatious, of course. But not angry. Maybe this would help her get Trevor out of his mood. Reluctantly she sighed.
"Okay. I'll go."
Trevor nodded, not looking at her. "Fine." He spoke without enthusiasm, turning to leave without another word.
"Trevor," Claire called out to him, but he went through the door and left without looking back.
"You're welcome," she said softly to no one in particular. Exhaling, she sat down on her chair, thinking about what she had just agreed to. Trevor didn't seem any happier. It wasn't a good sign. "Oh. This'll be fun," she said dryly.
Jaclyn spent most of the afternoon with Trevor as he quizzed and practiced with her. She noticed his somber mood instantly and she did her best to cheer him up. She was mostly successful. Trevor laughed as Jaclyn smiled at him. She definitely made him feel better than Claire did right now. But Claire still lingered in his thoughts, regardless of what Jaclyn did. Jaclyn enjoyed being alone with Trevor, laughing and being close to him. This was what she had wanted all along. The actual date they were getting ready for would probably be anti-climatic.
Jaclyn touched Trevor's arm in the way he had taught her, trying to appear shy and inviting at the same time. She knew Trevor saw it as practice for Champ, but she hoped some of her sincerity would affect him without him realizing it. That he would finally see.
"Jaclyn, I have to admit...I've had a blast this afternoon."
"I was feeling sort of down, you picked me right up. You're a quick learner, willing to listen. If everyone here was like you, I'd knock out a hundred couples in a day." Trevor took Jaclyn from her chair and spun her around, making her laugh. He was encouraged by her progress.
"You know what, Jaclyn? Champ doesn't stand a chance."
She smiled. "I hope so." Her thoughts definitely weren't with Champ.
"I think you're all set for tonight, Jaclyn." Trevor noticed the afternoon rays coming through the window of Jaclyn's apartment. "And it's getting late. The slow dance lessons will have to wait for you're second date with Champ. You had better get dressed."
"Would you like to stay for that too?"
Trevor growled at her with mock desire, snapping his teeth at her with a smile as he turned to leave.
Jaclyn giggled and walked him to the door, leaning on it as he stepped out into the hallway. "Thank you for the pointers, Trevor. So. I'll... see you tonight."
"Sure. Go bag a stud, tiger."
Jaclyn smiled. "Oh. I intend to. " She looked at Trevor happily as she closed the door. Once she was alone she leaned against it. "Yes!" she whispered in triumph. The time she had just spent with Trevor had gone well. Maybe he was coming around. She'd give the god of love a dose of his own medicine yet. Jaclyn went to get dressed.
Champ held the phone against his ear, talking to Claire. "Right. I'll keep everything you said in mind."
Her voice came through the phone. "So. You up for this, Champ?"
Champ took a breath. He smiled, thinking about Jaclyn. "Yeah. Yeah, I think I am."
"Good. Don't worry. You'll be fine. Trevor and I will be there, so. No need to get nervous."
"I know. I'll do my best to win her over." He was being sincere.
"Great. See you in a bit. Bye."
"Bye, Claire." Champ hung up the phone, full of enthusiasm. He was looking forward to this. He nodded happily to himself as the front door opened and Trevor came in.
"Champoo! There you are. Come on. You've got a cute red head to sweep off her feet." Trevor patted his shoulder. "Let's do it to it."
Trevor walked quickly past Champ, smiling at him on the way to his bedroom to get dressed. Champ nodded.
"Yeah. Let's do it." He jogged up the circular staircase to the second floor.
Jaclyn stood before her mirror, holding a blue dress before her as she thought about whether she should pick that one or not. It wasn't bad, showed a decent amount of leg. She wondered what color was Trevor's favorite? Which dress would he like her in? In the end she decided against the blue one, throwing it onto the bed and grabbing another, placing it against her body.
"Red." She smiled. "Of course." Jaclyn left the blue dress on the bed.
A hand reached out and took the blue dress from the bed. Claire held it before her as she stood before the mirror in her bedroom, completely alone. She looked at it on her body, and thought that Trevor would love it. It was short and low in all the right places. But that worried her. "Well, I don't want him to get the wrong idea," she said to herself. "This is just a friendly date. Friends going out together, that's all." Claire thought about it and laughed nervously. "Why should he get the wrong idea? Why am I worrying he might?" In the end, she hated the blue dress and tossed it onto the bed, looking for another that wasn't so... small.
Champ buttoned up his shirt, smiling into the mirror. He knew this was a great opportunity. Spending time with Jaclyn was always a good thing. Still, he wanted to look his best. "Is that stubble?" He grabbed for his electric shaver, feeling the hum between his fingers as he lifted it to his chin.
The electric shaver moved across his skin as Trevor walked around his bedroom, touching his skin with his other hand and shaving by feel. Shaving was another one of those annoying human habits he had been forced to adjust to. He thought about the date. Thought about Claire being there. "Marvelous time," he muttered to himself, mimicking her voice. "It was a marvelous evening, Trevor. Doesn't she think the god of love can show her 'marvelous'?. Well, I'll show her." He picked out his best clothes, the dark suit with satiny bronze shirt and tie he had worn on the first day when Claire had released him from Lakeview. Turning off the electric shaver he leaned down to look into a small mirror. Nodding at what he saw, he softly howled like a wolf baying at the moon.
Trevor strutted. "Damn. I'm one handsome god."
Jaclyn twirled, having finally decided on the red dress. She looked at herself as she wore it. A small red dress that came to her knees and left her shoulders bare. It cling well to her figure, but not too much. Still, it was very flattering on her.
Jaclyn checked her hair and make-up. Everything seemed in order. She could feel the excitement growing in her. Reaching for her dresser, she grabbed a perfume bottle and sprayed it in mid-air, trying to walk into it but instead getting a mouth full of floating perfume particles that made her cough. She waved it off, and picked up a small rose. Maybe she'd have a chance to give it to Trevor. Looking at herself in the mirror one last time, she dropped it into her purse.
She smiled. "This is going to be a great evening." Jaclyn turned and left.
Claire had gone with black pants and a blue satin blouse, covered by a black jacket. It was flattering, the slacks clung fairly well to her, but still rather conservative. Perhaps a touch too conservative. Double guessing herself, she paused. "Well I don't want Trevor to think I'm trying too hard to not be attractive." Cautiously Claire unbuttoned a few top buttons near the neck of her shirt, revealing more of the skin beneath her neck. She grimaced for a moment.
"Alright, what am I doing?"
Who was she trying to look attractive for? Frank's assertion popped back into her head, that maybe somewhere deep down she did have feelings for Trevor. Claire shook her head.
"That's ridiculous..." she told herself, refastening a button, but only one. Taking a look, she exhaled.
"Oh the hell with it," she unfastened the button again. Smiling at the completed image, she liked the look. Just the tiniest hint of sultriness. She shook her hair to check it, also checking her make-up. All systems go.
"Just a friendly date. That's all." Claire paused, looking at the unfastened buttons, turning quickly away before she could doubt her decision. Claire grabbed her coat, ready to leave.
Champ was finally dressed, looking very handsome. He took a breath, watching himself in the mirror.
"I can do this. Nothing to worry about. It'll be great." Champ turned away.
Trevor adjusted his tie, bronze satin orange in color. Hearing a car pull up, he leaned over to look out his window and down onto the street below. Trevor smiled. Their ride was here. He left his bedroom, going to get Champ.
Claire waited in front of her door. Trevor had told her he would pick her up. It hadn't bothered her at the time, until she realized Trevor didn't have a car. Then again, Trevor always seemed to manage. She heard a car honk, and she grabbed her keys, opening her front door and going out.
Claire stopped in her tracks. Her eyes went wide as she looked at the long, black, polished stretch limo parked at her curb, engine idling. It's surface reflected the deepening blue of the twilight sky. Small yellow squares glowed beside tinted windows. A driver waited patiently beside it as Claire approached. He opened the door for her. Trevor climbed out of the limo after it swung open, smiling at her.
Claire looked him over. He looked very nice. His jacket and pants almost seemed to compliment hers. She quickly took off her jacket. They looked too much like a couple dressed that way.
"Hey, Claire bear. Not bad, huh?"
"Trevor, umm... a limo?"
"Yeah. Got to get this thing started in style."
"How... how can you afford-"
"There are other currencies than money Claire. Remember that small diner when we went on our road trip with Champ's music friend? I set up our driver, good old Arthur here, with a waitress there and they're very happy. He said he owed me a favor."
The driver still held the door. "No problem at all, Trevor."
Claire blinked, still trying to take it in. "But, Trevor. Isn't this all a little... much for tonight?"
"Not at all. Just trying to get a romance jump started." Trevor motioned to the waiting interior of the limo. "So, shall we go?"
Claire didn't know what to say, drapping her jacket over her arm and climbing in. Champ and Jaclyn were already inside, seated beside each other. Trevor had insisted. They both looked around in wonder, this was definitely more than they had expected. Trevor squeezed in next to Claire as Arthur closed the door behind them.
"Trevor," Champ warned, remembering the last date Trevor had planned for him, "I better not even smell the hint of an oyster this time..."
He smiled. "No, I learned my lesson. You two are totally free to provide your own aphrodisiacs. This is just a simple dinner. I promise."
They sat in an awkward silence as the driver opened his door and slid behind the wheel. Trevor looked at all of them, clapping his hands to try to lighten the mood..
"And we're off..." Trevor smiled.
The limo pulled away from the curb in front of Claire's house, moving out of sight.
The restaurant was fancy, but not excessively so. A waiter walked the four of them through the tables in silence. Jaclyn hovered just behind Trevor, almost touching him. Claire walked next to Champ, both sharing a glance as his eyes widened as if to say he was no longer sure he could do this. She smiled and patted his shoulder, offering encouragement, as the continued into the restaurant.
Allowing them to pass, Trevor snuck a glance at Claire, looking at her face with soft eyes before quickly looking away. He was determined to show her as good a time as Frank did last night. Well, at least a good time anyway, considering what he assumed the two of them had ended up doing. He thought about what Claire meant to him, and in the end didn't know what to think.
Claire took a quick glance of her own at Trevor after he looked away, admiring his features. He looked very handsome tonight. But she could never be... well, she just couldn't. Frank's suspicions were foolish. She was very fond of Trevor. She enjoyed his company. And she honestly liked him, even when she wanted to strangle him. But that was all. Trevor was just doing all this to compete with Frank. Typical male. Trying to usurp the man who had usurped his need for attention from her. It was obvious. But in a way... even then she was glad she was with him. Claire looked away, wondering what that meant.
Champ looked over at Jaclyn, smiling at her as she smiled back at him. He couldn't believe what he was feeling. He knew he had harbored an attraction for her before this had all started. But the depth of that sensation threatened to overwhelm him now. She was stunning tonight, at least to him. Champ didn't want to take his eyes off her, only forcing himself to because he was afraid his feelings would show in his eyes. He had to remember why they were here. What they were trying to do. Get Jaclyn and Trevor together. Whatever Trevor had been doing, he had done wonders. But Champ suspected Trevor had only uncovered what Jaclyn had all along. But Trevor would probably never see her the way he did. He wished she knew that.
Jaclyn watched Trevor out of the corner of her eye. All the effort he had gone to for her. For this mission to get her and Champ together. That limo must have cost Trevor a fortune, especially on a psychotic bartender's salary. Unless of course he really was Cupid, and had just willed it into existence. Tonight, she just might believe it. His determination only made him even more endearing to her. Trevor was handsome, wonderful. Claire was an idiot. How could she not see what Trevor felt for her? How could she turn him down? Claire would never make Trevor happy. Jaclyn knew she could give Trevor what Claire never could. Because, unlike Claire, she didn't care if he believed he was the god of love or Abraham Lincoln. In her eyes, he was all the god of love she would ever need. And in her heart, she believed. Jaclyn tried to clear her thoughts, staying near Trevor. She tried to keep the big foolish grin off her face. This could work. Trevor would see. She knew he would.
The waiter finally seated them at a table. Trevor moved to pull out Claire's chair, but she glared at him, as if that were a little too 'date'ish for her liking. Trevor backed off, allowing Claire to seat herself.
Champ did the same for Jaclyn on the other side of the table, sensing her nervousness. "Hang in there, Jackie," he whispered teasingly into her ear. She almost giggled at how well Champ knew her, but managed to suppress it. Champ took his seat.
The four of them were seated, Trevor and Claire on one side, Champ and Jaclyn on the other. No one made eye contact with each other, instead sitting in the same awkward silence they had shared the entire limo ride up there. The table and surroundings were elegant, but not as stuffy as the restaurant Claire had dragged Frank to. A pair of candles flickered between the two couples, and they all stared at the small flames as if trying to decide who would grab them first. The restaurant's ambiance was laid back enough that they even piped in music overhead at a discreet volume. Except for the conversation coming from the other tables all around, a song was just able to be heard. It was a rock ballad, by Matchbox 20.
Everyone here, knows everyone here is
thinking about somebody else.
It's best if we keep it all under our heads...
The entire situation felt strained. There were all sorts of expectations and limitations flying around the table, even as they sat there in silence. Claire didn't look at Trevor. Champ didn't look at Jaclyn. Jaclyn didn't look at Trevor. Trevor didn't look at Claire. No one knew exactly what to do, what to say, since even as long as they had known each other, none of them had ever been in that exact situation before.
I couldn't tell, if anyone here
was feeling the way I do.
But I'm lonely now, and I don't know how,
to get it back, to good....
A waiter approached through the tables, humming softly to himself and in a good mood. He stopped as he felt the invisible wall of tension hit him. Keeping very still, his eyes darted back and forth among them, wondering what was going on. All four looked slowly up at him but said nothing. The waiter wondered if it was contagious, because for a second he didn't know what to say either.
Finally, voice cautious, he asked a question. "Would you... like some wine before you order?"
"Yes!" All four said in unison, sounding relieved.
It was sometime later and the meal was half way finished. The wine had helped after all. Champ was telling a story, only broken occasionally by a question from Claire or a tease from Trevor, who had heard it already. Everyone was smiling, the earlier discomfort gone as they enjoyed the evening. They all laughed at what Champ said, as he continued.
"So by the time I ran to hide in the bath room," Champ was saying, "I had only managed to get into my boxer shorts. Looking desperately for an escape route!"
Claire smiled. "Really? How did you get away?"
"I managed to squeeze through the bedroom window, but just barely. It helped that I was only wearing my boxers and covered in massage oils. I remember thinking in the middle of it how embarrassed it would be for paramedics to use the jaws of life on me if I got stuck. So I forced my way through, at nearly any cost. Unfortunately it was the middle of December and Sylvia lived on the fourth floor...."
Claire gasped. "Oh god, you fell?"
Champ shook his head. "No. She had a fire escape. A very cold fire escape. The temperature was in the teens, and I was oiled up and half naked." Champ smiled at the memory.
"Ouch," Trevor sympathised. "That'll put a damper on your boys won't it?"
"Oh yeah." Champ agreed. "I managed to get to the car before certain body parts started to freeze off. Never run so fast in my life!"
Trevor raised his glass. " I commend your naked fire escape prowess. It warms the Cupidian in all of us. You'd do Mercury proud."
Champ corrected him. "Half naked fire escape prowess. I did run naked once, but I'm still never telling you that story, Trevor."
"Why? I would be completely sympathetic, the non-mocking voice of understanding that would-" Trevor laughed, interrupting himself. "Sorry. I couldn't even say that much with a straight face."
Jaclyn listened to the others talk, but she only had eyes for Trevor. Smiling with her chin in her hand, she watched him with fascination as his face changed in all sort of minute ways while he spoke. From listening, to intrigued, to surprised, to impressed. All lit with the flickering light from the candles. She managed to tear her eyes from him whenever Trevor looked at her, but not always.
Dropping her attention from Champ's narrative, Claire glanced at Trevor, still thinking he looked handsome. Regardless, Frank's way off base, she thought to herself before looking away.
Trevor laughed, turning to see Claire's face in profile, causing him to lose his train of thought. The candle light was very flattering on her, dancing in her brown eyes, and it made him pause. Seated next to him, she seemed so close. For a second he wondered what it would be like. Then Trevor shook his head, blinking it off as he responded to Champ. "See there? I knew those tapes would come in handy. Forgive the pun."
"Gee, thanks Trevor." Champ chuckled. "But that's really not the point."
Trevor continued. "You had a dry spell. Certain urges rear their ugly-"
"Trevor..." Champ tried to stop him.
Claire smiled and rolled her eyes. "Why are men so easy?"
Trevor looked at her. "This coming from a woman who's such a good customer she should by stock in Ever-ready batteries. Appropriate brand name, I think."
Claire's eyes widened. "Trevor!"
He didn't back down, smiling slowly. "Nosce te ipsum. There are two type of people in this world, Claire. Those who do, and does who do and lie about it."
Claire took a sip, smiling but not really offended. "I won't dignify that with a response."
"Dignity has nothing to do with it, Claire."
She ignored him, turning instead to Champ.
"Oh come on," Claire asked. "Tell us the naked run story. Please? Pretty please?"
"Yeah Champoo!" Trevor added. "Tell us the tale of the tail."
"No way." Champ said.
Jaclyn wasn't listening. She'd hoped to spend time alone, one on one with Trevor. And now her mind raced to think of something to make that happen. She glanced at Claire's wine glass, seeing it perched on the edge of the table but out of reach. Champ's on the other hand, wasn't. She knew what to do, reaching over.
"Oh god, I'm so sorry Champ! I spilled wine all over you!"
Champ looked down at his lap, picking up the glass which Jaclyn had inadvertently dropped into his lap. He was very soaked in that area. But, as he turned to look into Jaclyn's face, he realized he didn't mind so much. He was having to good a time with her.
"It's ok, Jaclyn. It's-"
Jaclyn's eyes opened slightly as she caught Champ's gaze, trying to get her intentions across. "I'm so sorry that I-" Jaclyn's eyes darted across the table to Claire's glass, "-spilled the drink." She hoped he understood what he was implying.
Champ did, looking over at Claire's wine glass quickly before looking back. He paused before continuing. "It's... fine, Jaclyn really. Just a little spill."