The limo idled at the foot of the bridge in the middle of down town Chicago. The dark air was alive with the city lights. In the dimness the driver waited calmly outside the car, leaning against the limo's front as he looked at the two couples walking leisurely across the bridge. He smiled to himself, waiting for them to come back as a cigarette point glowed between his fingers.
It was a beautiful night. The air was calm and serene, and the sky was clean and gray, awash in too much light pollution to really make out the stars. Walking slowly, Champ and Jaclyn stayed next to each other, as to their left the bridge's stone railing slid past, only occasionally broken by a light fixture as they walked.
Jaclyn smiled up at Champ, enjoying his company. Enjoying the quiet and the open air after the hectic experience back at the restaurant. She sighed warmly, arms clutching herself against a slight chill in the air. "Well, it's not exactly what I would call one of the greatest first dates in history, but still, I had fun, Champ. Uhh... sorry about what I did to your pants."
He chuckled as he walked beside her. "That's okay. At least the stain was an excellent year." Champ took his jacket off, draping it across her shoulders to keep her warm. Jaclyn looked up at him, not expecting the gesture as he continued. "I didn't catch that you wanted me to spill Claire's drink too until it was too late. Sorry."
"I understand. We really should have worked something out beforehand." Jaclyn looked down. She glanced behind them to where Trevor and Claire were following, several dozen yards back. "It seems Trevor's at Claire's side again." She sounded disappointed.
Champ tried to cheer her up. "Don't be discouraged. He just wanted us to be alone together, that's all."
Jaclyn nodded. "I know. I just wish he wanted to be alone with me himself. I guess.. I was hoping I had made more progress with him tonight."
Champ looked over at Jaclyn's face, realizing he could spend hours just being fascinated in her eyes. He looked away. "Don't be so sure you didn't."
"What do you mean?"
"Trevor saw a lot today. He had to. If he didn't see how funny, how beautiful-"
Jaclyn laughed. "Beautiful?"
He smiled. "Yeah, beautiful. Charming. Sexy. Funny. Umm... feel free to jump in with a few self-compliments of your own."
Jaclyn leaned against him for a moment in amusement. "Let me think. Except for tenacious and persistent, I think you've got me covered." Her smile was self depreciating as she spoke.
"Exactly my point. Trevor couldn't help but see your myriad wonderful qualities. Mission accomplished."
Jaclyn looked warmly up at him as they walked. "You always do so much to cheer me up. Thank you."
He nodded, amazed at how beautiful she looked, red dress almost shimmering in the dim light from the spaced light fixtures on the bridge. "You're welcome."
Jaclyn sighed. "I just wish Trevor saw me the way you do."
Champs words were more subdued, and for a moment he honestly believed them. "So do I."
Jaclyn glanced back at Trevor and Claire still following behind them. "I wonder what they're talking about back there."
Champ looked into her eyes. "Well, if Trevor's got half of the half a brain he's got, then he's talking about how jealous he feels that he's not up here with you instead of me."
Jaclyn smiled at him. "Well maybe I can help that jealousy along a little bit." She reached into her purse, pulling out the rose she had brought with her. "I had hoped to give this to Trevor tonight. But I'd like you to have it."
Champ smiled at the gesture. "A rose? That's backwards, isn't it? Shouldn't I be the one giving you flowers?"
Jaclyn shrugged lightly. "Guess I'm a modern sort of girl. Besides, you already gave me roses remember? A dozen of them. And I just gave you one in return. So, only eleven more to go."
Champ laughed. "Return payment on the installment plan. I like it." He looked back at Jaclyn. "I can live with that. Thank you, Jaclyn. It's very sweet of you."
"You're welcome Champoo." she smiled.
Champ grimaced. "I hate that nickname. I wouldn't worry Jaclyn. I know you'll find someone who loves you as much as you deserve for being so impeccably wonderful."
"Flatterer. I hope so." Jaclyn looked up into the sky. "I really wish we could see the stars. Maybe I could make a wish on one."
Champ nodded. "Do it anyway. They're still there."
Jaclyn closed her eyes, face to the sky as she stopped in her steps. Holding the rose, Champ looked into Jaclyn's face, feeling good to be near her.
She opened her eyes, looking over to see Champ watching her. "There. It's done. What about you?"
"Oh," He turned the rose in his fingers. "I already did..."
Trevor and Claire walked side by side, both looking ahead to where Champ and Jaclyn were, walking some distance in front of them. Claire smiled contentedly, glad she was there with Trevor. She looked over at him and noticed his solemn expression.
"Trevor, what's wrong? I don't know how you see it, but things seem to be going well." She nodded to Champ and Jaclyn.
He looked at Claire. "It wasn't quite the evening I had in mind. But it seems ok now. I wanted to apologize, Claire. For all that back at the restaurant. And for maneuvering you into coming. I know you'd rather spend time with Frank."
"Trevor, I don't mind being here with you. You're very important to me. I had a good time. Don't let Frank get in the way of that. Last night, me and him just had to... well, spend time together. I felt Frank and I drifting apart."
"Yeah. I know the feeling..."
"Trevor, what is it? What's going on?"
"It's just that I wanted to show you as good a time as Frank did, then maybe-"
"Trevor, it isn't a competition."
"Sure. Frank's my boyfriend. You're my friend. There is no competition."
"Oh," Trevor looked away disappointed. "Why am I you're friend Claire? Do you ever wonder?"
Claire smiled. "Because the gods are punishing me?"
"I'm serious, Claire. Why? Why are we friends?"
Claire blinked. "Well... I like you Trevor. Why else are two people friends? You're funny, you keep me on my toes, you're... I don't know. I guess I enjoy being with you."
"More than with Frank?"
"Trevor, that's not-"
"Look, all I'm asking is if there's any other reasons you spend so much time with me."
Claire stiffened slightly. "No, Trevor, there's not."
Claire looked away. What she had feared was happening. She didn't want Trevor to get the wrong idea. And as she looked around at the low lighting, the romantic setting of the bridge with the waiting limo far behind, and the two of them alone, she worried that he might be.
"Trevor, on second thought, I don't feel very comfortable doing this."
"What do you mean?"
"This. Us. Walking together out here tonight."
Claire thought about how she had wanted to test herself. Test if she had feelings for Trevor. Well, she was convinced. She obviously didn't. That's why she had to end this immediately. Why did she feel so uncomfortable, so guilty being with him?
"Trevor, I think I'm going back." Claire turned towards the limo.
"Wait, Claire. Where are you going? What's wrong?"
"I just don't think this is appropriate..."
"You mean you can't even give me one full night?"
"Trevor," Claire said a little more forcefully, but trying to be as gentle as possible. "You're my patient. I'm you're doctor. I had a good time tonight. And maybe that distracted me a little. But now that I look around, I realize this shouldn't be happening. Doctor-patient, OK? Let's leave it at that. I'll be waiting in the car." She turned and walked away. Trevor stopped in his tracks, watching her leave, watching her in his mind going back to Frank. He turned and leaned against the railing, feeling he had failed.
Jaclyn laughed at Champ, not having seen what had happened behind them. "So you really had to make a run for it?"
"Absolutely. I ran all the way back to my group tent, totally naked. It didn't help. The powder still itched like hell, even without the clothes on. I later learned it was just her way of saying she had a crush on me. You know, a crude teenage attempt at seduction. But I never forgave her for it."
"I see," Jaclyn smiled. "Or should I say wished I saw? Now I wish I had gone to camp more often. No one took pictures, did they?" She asked hopefully.
He shook his head. "None that survived to the developing phase. Never did get those clothes back, either."
"I thought you said you would never tell anyone that story?"
"No one except you. You I don't mind telling"
She touched his arm, smiling at him. Champ enjoyed it, looking down at her hand with a smile. Suddenly Trevor was between them, interrupting the moment.
"Hey, we'd better get out of here. It's getting late." Trevor's voice was hard, with a tinge of anger behind his words.
Jaclyn noticed, and she shared a glance with Champ. "Trevor, what's wrong?"
"Nothing. It's just... look, it's getting late. Our driver should be getting home to his lovely waitress. Ok. I'll... I'll see you in the limo." Trevor walked away, not able to explain his mood to them. Not able to get Frank and Claire out of his head either.
Champ and Jaclyn paused together, watching him leave. Champ still held the rose in his hand. Jaclyn smiled at Trevor's reaction, looking hopefully over at Champ.
"Did... Trevor just look jealous to you?"
Champ watched Trevor's angry stride as he walked back to the limo. "I... think he was." He said in surprise.
Jaclyn clapped her hands. "Thank you, Champ. It was a great evening."
"Again, you're welcome, Jaclyn." He couldn't feel bad with her, no matter what Trevor felt. At least, not tonight. Smiling at each other, they turned and walked back across the bridge towards the limo, leaving the glittering skyline of Chicago behind them.