"So let me get this straight..." Red sipped her coffee as she looked at Ruby. "After that first night, you left my house and you've been crashing at Blaze's for the last few days --without actually going home to get anything except some clothes -- until last night..."
"When Blaze's 'hot French chick' came over, yeah..." Ruby said, looking away. "It wasn't like I was sleeping in her bed...the couch is on the other side of her apartment..."
Red smiled slightly. "And so you came over here. And in all this time, you still haven't talked to Copper?"
Ruby sighed and shook her head. "She's...she's been staying at her mom's house, and...Coral made it pretty clear I wasn't welcome."
"The protective mom bit, huh?"
"Yeah..." Ruby swallowed hard. "Apparently...um...Copper...she took it really badly."
Red raised an eyebrow. "I would think so," she said, an arch tone creeping in.
"Hey, she's the one who's been catting around, not me!" Ruby said defensively.
Red rolled her eyes. "Ruby, I've known Copper for almost five years! She doesn't have --"
"The attention span to have an affair, I know, I know..." Ruby sighed. "That's what everyone keeps telling me! But what everyone forgets is that Copper was the head chef at Le Rouge for two years!" She slumped against her chair. "Being a gourmet chef does take a little concentration..."
"All right, all right..." Red took another sip. "All I'm saying is, it doesn't sound like Copper. She loves you. It's obvious to anyone. Are you willing to give that up because some woman you hardly know left messages on your machine?"
"Red, you didn't hear these messages." Ruby sighed and set her mug down. "Anyway, I'm going to go talk to Ember. I should've done it weeks ago."
"Do you really think that's a good idea?"
Ruby sighed. "No," she replied. "I know it's not. But I'm going to do it anyway." Ruby shrugged. "It's not like I have anything else to do...from what I heard, Coral's helping out with Shimsion, which is probably good since I...well..." She trailed off, playing with the belt on her borrowed robe. "Did I thank you for letting me borrow this? And for letting me take a shower and sleep here for the night? And for not getting mad at me when I want to change the subject?"
Red opened her mouth, about to speak, but the doorbell cut her off. "I'll be right back." Ruby nodded, nibbling on another piece of toast as Red walked to the door.
Red made certain her robe was closed, then slowly opened the door. "Oh Blackie! What are you doing here?"
"I thought I'd give you a ride to work..." She let herself into the living room, looking Red over. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, nothing...I just didn't expect to see you this morning..."
"Huh..." Blackie walked further into the house, Red following her into the kitchen. Blackie stopped short when she saw Ruby sitting there in a robe. "Ruby..." she said, her voice rising slightly in surprise.
"Oh, hey, Blackie...how's it going?"
Blackie shot a look at Red. Red remained oblivious as she refilled her coffee cup. "So what're you doing here, Ruby?"
Ruby shook her head ruefully. "I honestly don't know..." she said softly. "Probably just wasting time..." She stood up. "Thanks for everything, Red. I've got to go..."
"Okay, Ruby, good luck..." Red said as Ruby walked into the bedroom. A few minutes passed as Blackie stared pointedly at Red, then Ruby returned, waving to the other two women before leaving the house.
There was a long pause, then Blackie turned to Red. "So..." she said in low voice. "What was Ruby doing here?"
"Oh," Red said casually. "She and Copper had a fight..."
Blackie frowned. "Oh..." She paused. "So she came over here for a little 'consolation'?"
Red looked up, her expression incredulous. "You have to be joking..." She laughed. "You can not be thinking that Ruby and I..."
The frown deepened. "What am I supposed to think? It's morning, she's sitting there, drinking coffee..." Her voice grew louder. "...Wearing your goddamned robe..." She took a deep breath. "I know you've dated her before, but I thought we were something, and I don't sure as hell share..." She clenched her fist, trying to control her anger as she stepped closer to Red.
Red backed away from her, finding herself trapped in the corner of her kitchen. "Blackie, stop it. You're scaring me..." she said in a small voice. "You...you're sounding like just her..."
The mention of Big Mama stopped Blackie cold. "Jesus..." she said in a whisper. "I...I'm sorry, Red. Just...just the thought of you being with someone else...it just...it just made me so angry for a minute..."
Red took a deep breath. "Blackie, I think you need to leave," she said quietly.
"Red, I'm...Jesus, I'm sorry."
Ruby pulled open the office door angrily, startling the woman sitting at the desk. The woman flipped back her long red hair and said, sharply, "Can I help you?"
Ruby frowned. "Who are you?"
The woman at the desk rolled her eyes. "I'm Mahogany, Dr. Ember's student aide. Did you need anything?"
Ruby's frown grew deeper. "Is she here?"
"No, Dr. Ember's at her class right now. Can I take a message?"
Ruby's frown slowly dissolved into puzzlement. "Wait. Right now, she has a class?"
Mahogany sighed. "Yes.."
"And she's always had this class, right at this time?"
"Well, not always, but all semester."
"Are you sure?"
Mahogany rolled her eyes. "Masters of the Italian Renaissance, Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30 to 2:00." She turned back to her computer. "So can I take a message or something?"
"Shit..." Ruby sighed and rubbed her hand over her eyes. "Shit shit shit shit shit!"
Mahogany looked up. "Are you okay?"
"I think I just ruined my fucking life over nothing. Shit!" She turned on her heel and ran out of the room, leaving Mahogany staring after her in bewilderment.
Rose sat down at her desk, sighing. She opened her book bag and pulled out her biology book, opening it up and placing it on the top of her desk while she continued to rummage through her bag. Someone coughed behind her and she looked up to see Clear standing nearby. "Clear..." she said, her voice level but chill.
"Uh...hey..." Clear smiled hesitantly. "You know those things I said a couple days ago?"
Rose stared at her. "Yeah..."
"Well...uh...I didn't really mean them...it's just that, well, you know how Sangria is...if you don't do things her way..."
Rose raised an eyebrow. "I certainly do now..."
Clear frowned, then fluttered her hands over her hair nervously. "Yeah, I guess so. So, um...about the uh...the uh...the project?"
"I thought I needed to find a new partner for that," Rose said frostily.
"Yeah, well, um, like I said, I didn't mean that. And I...I really need your research, 'cause I haven't...I haven't really done any of the research..."
Rose raised both eyebrows, and opened her mouth, but before she could reply, Poppy leaned over from her desk. "Back off, you hypocritical bitch. Rose already has a new partner."
Rose looked at Poppy for a moment, then nodded. "Yeah, sorry, Clear. Once you told me to, I found a new partner right away." She smiled tightly. "Maybe you could talk to Ms. Dimbley about an extension..."
Clear blushed and scurried off.
"You could thank me, you know..." Poppy said as she sat back in her chair.
Rose smiled thinly. "I was going to, if you'd give me a second..." She paused. "Thanks." She paused again, then looked at Poppy seriously. "But I have to ask...why bother helping me? I mean, I thought you hated me...I've said things..."
Poppy snorted. "Like when you said that, if I was gay, I should cut my hair because everyone knows dykes have short hair?"
"I don't think I said dyke..."
"No..." Poppy said softly. "No, you didn't." She paused, thinking. "I don't think I've ever heard you say that. Unlike some people I could mention. I guess...I guess that's why I helped you." She shrugged. "Plus, I really can't stand Clear."
Rose smiled. "So I'm sorry for the hair comment, okay?"
Poppy grinned back. "Okay." She turned back to her books.
Ruby was striding down the hall, muttering under her breath, when a small hand settled on her shoulder. She whirled around to see Bronze and Espresso standing behind her.
"Hi, Ruby," Bronze said sweetly. "Did I just see you in Ember's office?" Bronze asked. When Ruby nodded, she smiled. "Oh, good. I just knew you two would get along..."
Ruby closed her eyes and slowly counted to five. "No, Bronze, we are most definitely not getting along." She smiled bitterly. "I thought Ember and Copper were having an affair, actually..."
Espresso frowned. "I don't think Copper -- "
"Don't even finish that sentence," Ruby said, cutting her off. "It doesn't matter anyway...I just found out it would have been impossible for Ember to be meeting Copper at the times she said she was. So I'm asking you guys, since you introduced us...Any idea why Ember would be arranging to meet my girlfriend during her class time?"
Espresso glanced at Bronze. "Um...well...there have been rumors..."
"We didn't want to believe them..." Bronze interjected.
"That Ember was...well..." Espresso frowned. "Not stable..." She sighed. "I'll put it bluntly, Ruby. People have been saying she's psychotic."
"And you introduced Copper and me to this woman when you knew this?" she asked angrily.
Bronze spoke up. "She was always perfectly polite with me, Ruby. A bit nosy, maybe...a little too interested in certain aspects of my life and calling a little too often..." She trailed off.
The redhead shorted in derision. "The university lets people like Ember work here?"
Espresso shrugged. "Tenure."
Ruby blinked a few times. "Jesus....That bitch nearly ruined my relationship with her lies and it's okay because she has tenure!?"
"We're so sorry, Ruby..." Bronze said softly. "We had no idea what was going on..."
Ruby shook her head. "I...I have to go..." She sighed heavily. "I guess I better start practicing my apologies..."
"I don't want to talk to you!" Copper said, shouting behind the bathroom door.
"Copper, sweetheart, please... I'm sorry. I know you weren't having an affair..." Ruby put her hand on the bathroom door, speaking soothingly through it. "Copper, darling, baby, please..."
Copper opened the door slightly, one eye peeking out. "Stop that..." she said in a quiet voice. "You haven't called me that since you were obsessed with that...that one singer..."
"Yeah...him..." Copper sighed and slowly opened the door.
Ruby bit her lip, wincing at Copper's appearance. "Aw baby, you look terrible..."
Copper sniffed. "I've been crying..."
Ruby made a comforting noise. "I know, baby, and I'm a complete idiot. I...I just went to see Ember -- confront her really..." She paused. "Maybe beat her up."
"Okay, not beat her up," Ruby said with a smile. "I found out that she's...unstable. Those messages could've meant anything, and there's no way you two could've been..." she trailed off. "So I'm an idiot. A huge idiot." She paused. "I'm so sorry, so please don't be mad at me anymore..."
"Oh Ruby..." Copper said quietly. "I'm not mad..." She reached up to brush a strand of hair back from her face, but Ruby beat her to it. She tucked the stray hair behind Copper's ear and gently stroked her girlfriend's cheek. Copper sighed and leaned into the touch. "I was just upset that you'd...that you'd think I could do something like that... I love you, Ruby. I'd never leave you..." She paused. "Not like your parents."
Ruby scowled slightly. "Don't psychobabble me, Copper..."
Copper smiled gently. "You know I'd never do that..."
"Coral said that too."
Copper's smile widened. "When?"
"Uh..." Ruby grinned. "Sometime between calling me an idiot and telling me you were up here."
"Oh, Mom..." Copper shook her head.
Ruby looked at her girlfriend, her eyes wide and serious. "So you forgive me? And I can come home?"
"You can always come home..." Copper said tenderly before leaving in for a kiss.
"So you two made up, huh?" a voice said from the stairs. Copper and Ruby pulled apart, Copper blushing and Ruby smiling sheepishly. Coral smiled widely. "I would've hated to have to start avoiding Ruby around town..."
"Give me the bag!"
Rum held the small plastic bag to his chest protectively. "No, it's mine. You can't have it."
Misty growled. "Rum, you little bitch. Give me those fucking drugs. Are you in on the plan or not?"
"I am..." He sighed. "But these are mine. I paid for them!"
She sighed. "Fine. Call your goddamned dealer, and I'll get some more for you."
"Okay," Spice glanced at Gothic, then at Blondie. "The second meeting of the 'Get Gothic Back Together With Cola' club is now in session."
Gothic scowled. "Can we not make it a 'Kick Gothic' session like last time?"
"Awww...but it's so much fun!" Blondie said, pouting slightly.
"Look, Blondie, just because we had sex a few times doesn't mean that you get to harass me --"
Blondie cut him off. "Sex? I don't remember sex. I remember a little bi boy who was too scared to actually have sex with a man, but blowjobs were just fine, of course...especially if he was getting them...."
"La la la la LA..." Spice said, covering her ears.
Blondie rolled his eyes. "Sorry, Spice, " he sing-songed.
"All right, does anyone have anything relevant to discuss?" Spice asked as she signaled for more drinks.
"I do," Gothic said, his voice smug. "Cola called me."
"Aaaand...?" Blondie asked.
"Well..." he started, but was cut off by Dark bringing over the drinks. Spice arched an eyebrow at Gothic, and he sighed, digging out his wallet and paying for the drinks. "Anyways, it turns out he showed some of my pictures to one of the People guys before, as he put it, he knew I 'was a total asshole,' and the People guys showed it to someone else, and now Vogue wants to do a spread on Cola's designs with me taking the pictures." He took a drink. "In New York."
"So...this means that both you and Cola will be spending lots of time together...and be far away from Misty?" At Gothic's nod, Spice grinned and rubbed her hands together in anticipation.
An expectant silence hovered over the table, broken only by Blackie screaming in the background. "All right, everyone," Spice finally said, grinning. "Let's think sitcom..."