"So." A shift in the couch.
"So go up to her and help her."
Out came a melodramatic sigh. "It's not that simple. There is a certain approach to take in these cases."
"There is?" Pure disbelief colored the voice.
"Watch and learn, little one." A grin curled up one side of his lips.
The first figure made a disparaging snort at the remark. He had a good three inches or so over him.
Their quarry was curled up in front of a computer and had just finished typing. Now three inactive minutes have passed, to which were spent chewing on a pencil end and staring blankly at the monitor.
The first speaker stared at his seatmate, then at her, then back at him. "Well? What now?" came his accented whisper. "I'm just going to sit here and watch you watch her?"
A pale hand waved in his face, and a voice shushed him. "Comes with the territory. Zip it a while, and let me work!"
He gave a tired sigh. He was wondering for the nth time why he was still hanging around. He gave in to the inevitable with a shrug and slumped back in the seat heavily, earning a scowl.
Now she was tapping her foot against the desk, making a dull, rhythmic thud against the wood. Thump, thump, thump, thump....
The lonely noise fell in step with the ticking of the time.
Thump, thump, thump, thump....
He counted sixty.
Thump, thump, thump, thump....
Sixty again. Or was it fifty-eight?
Thump, thump, thump, thump--
He bolted upright and was making his way to the door. And got pulled back and down the couch instead.
"Do you want to get any, or do you want to get any?" His companion whispered urgently, his hazel eyes transfixed at the mute figure huddled before them. No movement or acknowledgment of their presence was made.
Which made him crazy. Neither she nor his self-proclaimed mentor were taking notice of his discomfort, nor even noticed each other, for that matter.
"Methos, if I wanted a story of mine written," he spoke slowly so that his English came out clearly, "I would have asked her for it, maybe just simply..."
"Sit!" his 'teacher' hissed. "She's gonna make a move." His angular features were tense, attentive to her movements.
The jackass isn't even listening! He dropped down again heavily and watched as there was, indeed, some movement at the desk. A look of excitement passed her face just as her hand moved to the mouse.
The signs of life seemed to have excited his companion as well. "Yes, that's it! She's getting it! She's going to write! She's..."
LukaMuse heard the most agonizing groan humanly possible.
"...shutting down the bloody window to get back on the 'Net," he droned, his disappointment increasing at every syllable. His head dropped, poleaxed, to his chest.
LukaMuse turned away to hide the snickering, feeling somewhat justified with the deed. Maybe now, I can get his attention!
He patted the hunched form consolingly. "Don't feel too bad. There will always be a next time," he said gently.
"Next time??" Venom literally oozed. "We've had these 'next times' for months! She'd been putting it off for a time now! And whe she did pick up the thread, she's going too slow!"
LukaMuse felt the urge to protect his new charge. "Take it easy on her! Didn't you tell me she had a job before?"
"Yeah! Even then, she got another story started. The brainstorming in the ladies' room was really fruitful then."
He froze at the absurd statement. No, he chose not to go there...
"Oh, be reasonable! She still has this--how do you call it?" He fumbled to recollect the term. "Ah!-- real life to contend with."
There erupted the second snort of the day. "Right. If you call singing with your friends with a guitar or keyboard accompaniment over the phone a healthy and normal way to spend an evening." Disgust spread over his face when MethosMuse saw her open the page he'd learned to dread.
"Her playing's not that bad," LukaMuse reasoned. "And that was the first time I saw her play keyboards since I got here."
"It was the only time she did." MethosMuse stood to look over her cyber meanderings, and hung his head at seeing the screen.
LukaMuse came over to see the cause of his despair. 'Luka Kovac Fan Fiction'? A self-conscious smile crawled to his lips. My, my...!
"Oh! Kris is online!" the older Muse piped in with false enthusiasm.
LukaMuse frowned. "Who's Kris?"
"Oh, some nutty mailing list owner. She chats with her on Instant Messenger." He peered down to see the message exchange.
"Isn't that intrusion of her privacy?" the doctor Muse asked warily.
MethosMuse scoffed. "Kid, you are too civil! Once she's attached to her lifeline," he said, tapping the CPU tower, "not even a herd of purple rhinoceros coming over to trample her house would get her attention." He paused. "I have to get her writing..." With that, he dove his fingers at the keyboard and typed in a message of his own to Kris.
To LukaMuse's surprise, she swivelled around her chair to glare at the errant Muse. "Do you mind?" she growled, then turned back again to type an apology.
The ER doctor clone stood a good ten seconds agape. "She can see you?" he squeaked, a pointing finger darting from one to the other.
"And hear you, too." her voice chimed in, and she wheeled around to look at him with a naughty glint in her eyes. "I was blatantly ignoring ROG here--" she jerked her head to his general direction "-- to get a break from the story for a while."
"Get a break for a while?" MethosMuse exploded. "How much time do you need?? We've been at it for months!"
She shrugged. "And? So? Rotten fics have been made even longer. Now if you two will excuse me." She swivelled right back to her chat mate.
An unrelented--and unrepentant--MethosMuse hounded over her with more cynical jabs on the chat session. LukaMuse was amazed that she wasn't immensely outraged by his interruptions, only that they transformed into two-thirds of the Stooges, when she chucked an occasional volley of bottlecaps--hoarded in her drawer, no doubt. Or that MethosMuse would suddenly yank her away from the terminal to type in himself. He couldn't help but seek sanity heavenwards. Why was I dumped here? he thought in his melodious Croatian tongue.
When he made sure no crackle of static descended from the heavens, or that dark clouds formed to give him some sort of answer, LukaMuse sighed unhappily. He came to the conclusion that he was stuck there. When he returned to look at the incessant impish display, he stifled a whimper. If he was to be stuck with them, he might as well make the best of it, he decided.
He approached them cautiously at the end of the exchange of ammunition, stepping over strewn bottlecaps, erasers, paper balls and what-nots, curious as to where their cache of hurled knicknacks all came from. MethosMuse seemed soundly trounced seeing the surly look as he stood to one side; she must have emerged victorious, as she typed on with a placid smile. Curiosity ate at him, so LukaMuse abandoned his earlier misgivings and peeked in the chat window to investigate the cause of the tense ceasefire.
He read the last few messages, then turned to MethosMuse. "She threatened you with me???"
MethosMuse ignored the big grin plastered on the other's face. "Threatened to make a collaboration of sorts with you," he grumbled. "Like there aren't good ideas to go around..."
"I take it you don't like me?" he asked, a little hurt.
"Not really," he replied gloomily. "Too damn chivalrous, too damn charming, too bloody 'gorgeous' (insert MethosMuse air quoting), and too bloody goody two shoes. Not to mention you brood too much."
LukaMuse puffed up at the words. "I do not!" he protested strongly, hands on his hips. "I'm not all goody two shoes, I don't think I'm that bloody gorgeous at all, and I certainly do not "brood" (insert LukaMuse air quoting--apparently encountering a word new to him) too much!"
"Oh yeah?" MethosMuse sized him up, blowing cobwebs from his Death glare and using it.
"Yeah," LukaMuse swaggered, using every inch of his height advantage and remembering to put on his 'I don't care if you fire me, Kerry' look.
The staring showdown terminated at her whirling to face them and putting herself in between the crossfire of eye daggers.
"Are you quite finished with the pissing contest, boys?" she drawled. "I don't have a corner in the house big enough for two of you to be sent off to. Remember, Methos, that one press of the delete button, and we're back to scratch."
He sneered. "Two words: Recycle Bin. But, like you would."
"I could put you two as a pair," she said demurely.
LukaMuse shuddered at the thought. Some demented writer had it in their heads to pair him with Dave Malucci! What can they possibly have in common? He'd rather shoot himself then.
A smug grin played at the older Muse's face. "You've never written slash before. I don't think you can." To that, LukaMuse was immensely relieved.
He was starting to realize that his fellow Muse was really fighting for his story being written. He supposed, being the new kid, he better sidestep and give way to his predecessor. So he decided to stand down from the standoff.
He lapsed into a resigned smile and said, "I'm sorry. I should be stepping aside for Methos. He came here first, after all, so it's proper that he be heard out."
MethosMuse celebrated the victory with a complacent smirk.
"Why, that's very considerate of you, Luka! Thank you!" She looked earnestly into his face.
He blushed and smiled widely, taking years off his handsome face. "It's okay."
LukaMuse didn't know what he was doing to the poor girl. Though he could have sworn he could see the stars in her eyes!
A gagging sound broke the spell. "I don't believe it! I've done the same number on her, but it didn't work!"
LukaMuse stared dumbly. "'Number'?"
Her face made a 180 degrees to a dour demeanor. "That's because with you, you're always up to something." She faced the computer again.
Right then, MethosMuse exploded in a tirade of sounds, as if he were choking on rocks.
"No swearing in dead languages, please," she said without turning.
MethosMuse leaned onto the desk, making a frustrated growl and sulked.
A maddening silence ensued. LukaMuse must have caught the restlessness bug from the elder Muse, for he was looking askance from the typing figure to the one parked on her desk looking sullen, almost willing them to action. Heck, he would have even put up with the bottlecap assault.
Without further thought, he tapped on her shoulder. She turned with a smooth "Yes, darling?" and an anxious face.
"I was just wondering," he began carefully. "If you're in the middle of writing his story, what am I doing here?"
She looked a little confused. "I have no idea really, but..."
"Someone from that kooky list she's in brought you up in topic," MethosMuse supplied from the sideline. "She got hooked again, looked you up, read the fanfics about you, then, voila! You landed on her proverbial doorstep." He shifted his weight on the desk.
She rolled her eyes and cast a sidelong glance at him. "Thank you, Muse, for the unwanted explanation."
He shrugged. "I aim to please." He kicked a paper ball aside.
"Wow. I'm really flattered," LukaMuse exclaimed. He remembered the question tugging at his thoughts. "You wouldn't, um, write us up as a... you know... couple, right?" He looked on beseechingly.
She moaned helplessly as she continued to stare, then leaned closer to him. "Don't worry. The old goat's right. I can't write slash. Actually, I have no story ideas for the two of you yet. But I still want you around. Who wouldn't? Besides," she lowered her voice in a conspiratorial whisper, "with you around, he'll be on his toes now. And maybe this time, he'll help me finish this stuff." She winked.
"Ah," LukaMuse responded, and straightened to see MethosMuse giving then a suspicious stare. "Since you put it that way," he added, "I'll stay."
She beamed widely. "Great!" she said with an affectionate squeeze in his arm.
"How the mighty have fallen," MethosMuse said in a stage whisper.
There was an evil glint in her eyes, then she spoke again. "You know, I'm starting to get a story idea playing in my head..."
"Yes?" LukaMuse said excitedly, vaguely noticing MethosMuse's tightening jaw.
"I really ned your help on the ER procedures you do."
He put a finger to his compressed lips, lost in thought. "Can I make a suggestion?"
"Anything," she breathed. Is she making--what's the word?--'cow eyes'?
"How about a setting outside the ER? I mean, I hardly have a life outside of it. I want to get out of the labcoats and scrubs for a change."
"Deal! You know, I never thought of that! Thanks!" She paused for a moment, and her face brightened. "I think I have an intro!" She whipped back to the monitor and opened a new program.
The erstwhile sullen and still ignored Muse looked like his eyes are popping out of their sockets. "Are. You. MAD? We're in the middle of my story, and you're starting a new one?"
Eyebrows jumped out from the rim of her glasses. "We, kemosabi? I didn't know you were getting involved in it. I need a break from it because I have to do historical reaseach because you're not talking and I am no history major. And it's our story, the last time I checked. Now," she turned back to LukaMuse. "D'ya want me to set you up with Abby, and that you two go to a concert?"
LukaMuse warmed up to the idea. He'd had love interests in the show, but never got to stay in a relationship long. Most fanfic writers, however, write him with a keeper. He just hoped she'd do that. He needs a life, damn it!
"Sure! Why not? Nothing too... mushy, okay?" he asked, with a 'so-so' gesture with one hand. "And not too flat, either."
"Okay!" She laced her fingers and stretched her arms in front of her. "Better strike while the iron's hot." And began to type in a furious pace.
MethosMuse cleared his throat annoyingly loud.
LukaMuse dismissed him, and read over her shoulder. "Looks good," he remarked, feeling giddy inside, as the words started to fill the screen.
She chuckled. "It would to us non-English speakers," she teased good-naturedly. "But I bet my beta would have a hell of a time picking the nits out."
He grinned and said nothing. He tried to ignore the choking sound in the background. But his attention was arrested by her sudden bursting into song.
He perked up. "Hey! U2!" He blended in his husky baritone:
She turned to him with a wide grin. They caught themselves with their mouths hanging open, not knowing the next line.
"I only know the chorus," they said in stereo, which sent them laughing. They sang the same lines again.
He then remembered they weren't alone, and he turned to the guy standing to one side. He was gawking in wide disbelief.
"Bloody hell!" MethosMuse blurted. "I don't know what's worse: the Irish monks or her scandalizing Bono!" He shuffled away, kicking debris along the way.
LukaMuse could help but erupt in a smirk of his own. When the other Muse passed behind him, he said sotto voce, "I think it was 'You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar'?"
The older Muse harrumphed, and crammed his hands deeper in his jeans pockets and sauntered on. "If you children ever get out of the Twilight Zone and need me, just yell. Then again, just write me into it by wheeling me into the morgue. Then you can call it a crossover story." And he disappeared to his Parts Unknown.
LukaMuse watched him vanish with sympathy. "That guy is too uptight," he said to himself in Croatian. "Maybe I should sneak him into the ER later and have him go at the nitrous oxide tanks." He sniggered. With that thoughtful plan set aside, he returned his concentration to the typing and the ongoing song and sat on the floor facing his writer.
"You've got to get yourself together..."