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General Disclaimer - This story includes: two women attempting to fall in love and failing miserably at times, bad language, uber characters, Shakespeare, Liza Minelli look-alikes, theatre myths, mentions of the Scottish Play, Jane Austen, characters with similarities to those owned by RenPic/Universal, heady seductions, big blue eyes, abdominal muscles, bad jokes, faulty locks and dirty tricks.
The uber copyright is mine, and Shakespeare is in the public domain, but essentially I'm borrowing archetypes from Xena: Warrior Princess and make no money from writing this story.
Borrowing something from one of my favourite authors, Nicola Griffith... Things expressed by my characters are their opinions, not necessarily mine. To automatically attribute anything written in a story directly back to the author is what Griffith refers to as "denial of the writers imagination." The words might be mine, or they might belong to someone I have seen or heard in my 24 years of life. I probably just made it up. Its fiction.
Dedicated to all the people out there who believe, as I do, in the amateur nature of uber fan fiction.
QUICK NOTE: I'd like to beg the forgiveness of my beta readers now for not mentioning them in the initial disclaimers!! As usual I am indebted to them for pulling this heap of junk into a story, and for encouraging me to be as sentimental is I wanted to be <g>. Special thanks to my beta reader of choice Lela Kaunitz (I'd never publish a word on the web I hadn't had you read through at least twice babe!!) and to Debbie Benson and all the others who volunteered off the XWPfanfic list. Much thanks.
And now, without further ado (pun intended)...ahem!...we continue. Suggestions, comments as usual to be directed to email@example.com
Much Ado About Uber
Laurie came over to inspect the lock for herself. Jen backed off to watch, her heart dropping marvellingat the look of hopelessness that crossed the younger womans features as she recognised their predicament for what it was.
"The only way were getting out of here is for someone to let us out." Laurie diagnosed finally. Jen nodded sadly, biting back a comment about stating the obvious, not willing to aggravate Laurie further.
Laurie looked up and caught Jen staring at her. "What?"
"Sorry." She looked away quickly. "You just looked really tired all of a sudden."
"Yeah well, I am. No surprises there."
Laurie pulled her coat tighter around her shoulders, attempting to shield herself better against the draught that whistled through the stairwell.
"Look, it's all right. Were not going to be stuck here all night. Maybe that really was someone you heard inside before, and some jerk just decided to lock the door after him on the way out." Jen said, hopefully.
"Maybe." Shivering, Laurie smiled a little, grateful for Jens optimism.
The taller woman seat her backpack down on the ground and sat on it in an attempt to avoid the cold floor. , trying not to sit on the cold floor. The concrete surrounding them on all sides seemed to amplify the chill. She closed her eyes, trying not to think about it.
She heard a sliding sound and a thump. When she opened her eyes, Laurie had slunk to the floor again, looking dejected.
She looks so different like that. Jen chuckled. Almost harmless. Laurie opened a curious eye to look at her.
Laurie opened a curious eye to look at her. "Something funny?"
Jen opened her mouth nervously. "A little bit.I was just thinking that if we had the energy to bother, we could keep warm by fighting with each other." She kept her tone light, not wanting her comment to be misconstrued.
"You mean get something halfway useful out of a pointless n endlessbattle?" Laurie quipped in return, her tone equally light and cautious.
"Something like that."
"Nice theory. But I do want to get out of here alive."
"Well, theres something to be said for circling each other like caged tigers." Jen added, feeling encouraged by their banter.Jen quipped.
"And whats that?" Laurie asked, sceptically.
"You fuel the best rumours."
Laurie looked away, too exhausted to snap back where she felt offended.But she didnt laugh.
Jen lowered her eyes.
Stupid. Stupid! What did you have to say that for?
"Because its the truth."
Two sides of her brain kept her mind occupied by disagreeing with each other. The fight continued on for several minutes.
"Did you say something?" Lauries voice broke into her thoughts.
Jen flushed, not realising her thoughts had come out aloud. "I was just talking to myself."
"Oh." Bemused Ssilence. "Do you do that often?"
Only when Im trapped in stairwells with gorgeous women.
Whoa babe, where the hell did that come from?
"No.." She stammered, helplessly. "No, not really."
Whoa babe, where the hell did that come from?
What, you dont think shes gorgeous?
Of course, I just didnt know I did.
"I think Im going insane." Jen whispered out loud, jumpeding up from her spot, and began to begin pacing the small space they sat in.
"What, just now? Or has it been coming on for awhile?" Laurie joked.
"Oh, its always been there. Latent, lurking..." Jen grinned, rubbeding her palms together as she paced.
"You look like a serial killer planning the next kill."
"You should be so lucky. At least that would get you out of here quicker." Jen sniffled, stopped, and then held her breath to bite back the pressure of a building sneeze attack.
Laurie looked on in amusement. "You think Id rather be dead than be stuck in a stairwell with you?"
Well, what am I supposed to say to that? "Im refusing to answer that on the grounds I might incriminate myself, or piss you off. Or both."
"Am I really that easy to annoy?" Laurie asked, serious.
Jen stopped long enough to cast a weary glance at her companion then continued her pacing. "I think I annoy people easily."
"I don't know about that. When you're not going out of your way to be a bitch you seem almost human."
"Dont let it get around." Jen smirked.
"Oh, I wont. Anyway, I dont think anyone would believe me."
Jen snorted. Her pacing continued.
"Youre making me dizzy. Why dont you try going up and down you try pacing up and down the stairs? Close your eyes and pretend youre in the gym on a Stairmaster just getting a good workout."
Jen stopped, and stared at the huddle on the floor that was Laurie. "You know, I'm starting to think that youre quite possibly the only person I know who is weirder than I am."
"You? Weird? I dont know. What do you do that's weird?"
"I have strange dreams."
"Why is that weird? We all do that. What do you dream about?"
"Well, the other night I dreamt that this woman I know was coming onto me on a desert island."
She glanced up, disappointed. "What's so strange about that?"
"She was wearing Seven of Nines catsuit. You know, , the silver one, from Voyager?"
Laurie nodded. "Ive seen pictures. Ive never watched it."
Go on, tell her it was her climbing out of the catsuit. See if she thinks youre weird then?
Didnt I tell you to shut the hell up?
"And you dont think thats weird?" Jen demanded.
"I dont know. Who was the woman?" Laurie felt her heart beat faster even as she asked the question.
"Some chick I met at a party." She lied.She lied.
To Jens surprise, Laurie nodded knowingly. started nodding. "Oh that would have to be the blonde. Ive heard about her. That story is like theatre legend around here."
Jen fumed. Fuck! Im going to kill those guys. "So? Isnt it weird?" Jen insisted.
"Did she look good in the catsuit?" Laurie stared her down, feeling some of the chill in the room dissipate at the heat that was flushing through her body.
Jen stared back., and cracked up. "You know, that was the absolute last thing I expected you to ask right at that second."
Jen just nodded, unable to think of a clever retort.
, not wanting to say anything if it wasnt something that would carry the conversation further.
Laurie changed the subject instead. "Have you ever read Pride and Prejudice?"
Jen took a step back to lean against the wall. She shook her head, no. "Ive seen the BBC re-make, the one from a couple of years ago. Does that count?"
"Thatll do, actually that's probably even better. Theres this scene in it, at a ball, where theyre dancing, and you can almost feel the electricity flowing from them. Like they could light up the room, all by themselves. You remember it?"
Jen nodded, not remembering anything particularly electric about it.
Laurie continued. "And Elizabeth is talking to Darcy, and one of her lines is Were both of a unusually taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room. Or something like that. I think you and I are a bit like that."
Jen stared speechless.
"Dont you think so?" Laurie asked. "And we're kind of the same as them, we have these differences in our personalities but we still try and be clever, trying to impress each other I think."
"I...I was kind of thinking something similar just then. Nothing quite so literary of course." She thinks we have electricity?
"It was the best example I could think of."
No stupid, she just thinks you two fight a lot.
And youre too competitive.
And shes right.
"Sounded like a good description to me, whatever it was." Jens head was spinning.
Laurie turned her head away, satisfied. She snuggled down into her large overcoat that she was incredibly glad she'd brought with her. She looked up at Jen who had given up pacing and had resumed her spot on the floor, tucking the backpack underneath her.
They sat in silence for a long time. Jen gave up looking at her watch after about the first 45 minutes, and finally just stopped thinking about it, beginning to think it wasnt worth waiting up to be rescued.
"We might want to just get some sleep." She suggested, breaking the silence. There was no answer.
Hauling herself to her feet she heard the cracking in her protesting knees. She walked over to where Laurie sat and peered close. Eyes were firmly shut and her breathing was regular. Jen wondered when exactly the small woman had dropped off to sleep. She was amazed at how quietly she slept, tucked up like that. She knew for herself that the second she fell asleep on the hard ground in an awkward position she would no doubt start snoring like a hibernating bear.
Staring at the snoozing form on the ground she was tempted to flop down beside it.
Preserve body heat?
She shook her head in confusion, trying to bring herself to her senses.
Wake up! She doesn't want anything to do with you, get it!?
Regretfully, she slunk back over to the other side of the landing, laid down with her head rested on her lumpy backpack, and tried fitfully to drift off to sleep.
"Wake up! Rise and shine ladies. What the hell are you doing in here?"
Laurie stretched out, and looked up through bleary eyes at the security guard lurking above her.
"What time is it?" She poked Jen unceremoniously with her toe, causing the dark haired woman to curse.
The security guard glanced at his watch. "Its 3am. Is there something wrong with that deadbolt again?"
"No." Laurie glared, pulling herself stiffly to her feet. "We just like the thrill of sleeping in stairwells. Concrete just seems to do it for me."
By this time Jen had raised her sleepy head from her backpack pillow. "Hey Stan. I was hoping youd come by a little earlier tonight."
The guard grunted. he He gestured towards the now unlocked downstairs exit. "Here you go ladies you can get out at the bottom now. Time to run home and get some sleep I say."
"What are you talking about?" Jen flashed a grim smile. "I was sleeping just fine."
"No kidding? I thought someone had left an air-conditioning unit running in here." The guard replied, completely missing the irony of her remark. She let it go, content with just pulling herself together and escaping from the dank smelling stairs.
Jen pulled Laurie to her feet. The small woman threw the guard a halfway apologetic glance before descending the stairs and exiting through the doorway out into the chilly night air.
"Howd you get stuck in there anyway?" The guard mumbled, following out after them.
"Laurie thought the cleaner was still in the building, had left and he hadnt, and the damn doorlock shut and got lockedstuck behind us." Jen replied, not thinking. Immediately she felt herself fixed with a cold, green eyed stare.
"Thats right. Blame it all on me. Be your typical obnoxious self." Laurie grunted miserably. She growled suddenly, shoveding her arms through the straps of her bag and stalked ing off into the night. without turning around.
"Wait. I didnt mean..." Jen started off after her, then stopped., annoyed. She whirled back around to look at the guard, who was staring in unabashed confusion. "Fucking hell, Im too tired for this."
Rummaging in her pack for car keys, she gave Stan a quick nod and headed for her car.
"I swear to God that woman does not possess a rational bone in her whole body." She muttered, slamming the truck into gear and squealing onto the highway.
Laurie heard the 4WD leaving the car park but still refused to turn around. She was too busy searching her over-tired brain for more unpleasant adjectives to describe tall, dark haired, idiotic, big-mouthed, blame-shifting stage managers.
Three days before the final dress rehearsal, Laurie and Marie stood giggling backstage as they watched the nasally Tina screech her way through the wedding sequence. "Nothing certainer: One Hero died defiled, but I do live, And surely as I live, I am a maid."
"Do you think if we tightened the laces on the corset a bit we could get her to sound like Barbra Streisand?" Laurie grinned, playfully.
Marie looked down at her clipboard and tried not to laugh. "She hasnt got the nose for it. Besides if we laced that corset anymore wed probably kill her. Shes already popping out as it is."
Ted shuffled around the corner, groaning underneath a large piece of chipboard.
Laurie looked wickedly at the wood. "Oh look, Ted brought Tinas parents along to see the show."
Marie choked, her clipboard clattering to the floor, earning her a glare from the huffing diva attempting a love scene on the stage. She continued on, mournfully wailing to the overdressed and sweating Don Pedro and Claudio.
"We couldnt have made those collars more practical?" Ted asked, gesturing at the men onstage in sympathy.
Marie shook her head. "Im drawing a demarcation line now Ted, any complaints should be directed to Costume. Its in my union rules not to take grievances about anything other than casting."
Ted bowed in deference, before grinning over at Laurie. "Shes learning quick. How longd it take? Six weeks? Seven?"
"Yeah, I bet she could even stand up to the bitch troll now." Laurie replied.
"Rrrooow!" Ted slashed his fingers cat-like in the air.
"Somebody taking my name in vain?" Jennifer appeared from around the corner, barely glancing at Laurie. The blonde woman was colouring rapidly. "Thats Miss Bitch Troll to you. Ted, we need that lump of wood over on the far side, one of the goddamned speakers is rickety or something. Talk to Craig."
She disappeared as quickly as she had come, darting behind the large backstage curtain.
Marie glanced over at Laurie who looked about to sink into the floor. "Take one mouth. Insert foot. Chew."
"Its not exactly like she didnt despise me before." Laurie spat back, trying to cover her embarassment.
"I thought the feeling was mutual." Marie gave her a sidelong glance.
Laurie chose to ignore the look. "Yeah well. Who knows? Besides, only three weeks of shows and well never have to see each other again."
They flinched as Tina burst into mock tears onstage, hitting a particularly screechy part of her upper register. The casting agent gave a ragged sigh. "Amen to that."
"Shes going to destroy the whole damned production. What was Richard thinking?" Laurie mumbled. Marie turned too look at her, humour dancing in her brown eyes. Shrugging, she let out a snort. "OK, dont answer that."
"But well be saved by our fabulous Beatrice!"
Laurie struck a classic melodramatic pose in her costume, and let out a soft whimper. "Thank you, thank you, youre just...too kind."
In the corner of her mind she heard a cue, and straightened quickly. "Uggh, almost missed it." Within seconds shed collected herself and was poised at the edge of the curtain, ready to bolt onstage, filled with romantic mirth and petulance. She ran over the scene in her mind, instantly blocking the hum of the theatre into the background.
She heard the lines replay themselves in her head, and she sighed when she thought of her speech to come. An image flashed in her mind; tall, dark haired, with blue eyes blazing. She shuddered, and concentrated on her breathing.
Don't trip. There's nothing worse than tripping up on the first sentence. She reminded herself.
Actors exited, and she lifted her skirts a little to allow herself extra movement. Shed dubbed her entrance the "Beatrice saunter", a combination of arrogance, over-confidence with just a touch of insecurity. Shed practiced it constantly in her apartment, sweeping haughtily from her bathroom in nothing but a soggy towel, to the applause and appreciation of her flat mate.
She adjusted the stays of her costume. The soggy towel is was definitely more comfortable.
Not even under the lights yet, she could already feel the sweat starting to drip down between her breasts and shoulder blades, on the other side pooling in the small of her back.
Jen didnt even know she was staring until she felt a familiar presence interrupting her reverie from behind.
"Youre going to have to move out a little, I need to get in to the board."
She looked down at where she was standing and mumbled an apology, shifting over so Steve could get into his seat. Her eyes were transfixed on the stage, her ears filled with the projected voices powering out from the proscenium arch.
"By my sword Beatrice, thou lovest me!"
"Do not swear and eat it."
"I will swear by it that you love me, and I will make him eat it that says that I love not you."
"Will you not eat your word?"
"With no sauce that can be devised to it I protest I love thee."
"Why then God forgive me "
"What offence sweet Beatrice?"
"You have stayed me in a happy hour, I was about to protest I love you!"
"And do it with all thy heart?"
"I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest."
She whipped her head around. "Wha...What?"
"Richard wants you downstairs. Something about feedback over in the corner." Ted held open the door of the booth for her and she slipped out reluctantly, eyes being magnetically drawn back towards the two figures fighting out the conditions of their love on the stage.
She tore her eyes away, only to find Ted staring at her curiously. "Do you have a problem?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing." He replied, mirth flashing in his brown eyes.
She looked away from him distractedly. Beatrice skipped along the boards, taking the hand of Benedick and flashing him an enormous smile.
"O that I were a man! What, bear in hand until they come to take her hands, and then with public accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour Oh God that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace!"
Ted chuckled. "That would be a shame."
Jen barely heard him. "What would be?"
"If she was a man."
"Uh huh..." Her eyes flickered towards the stage again, then back to Ted. "What?"
He waved a hand in front of her eyes. "Hello! Are you listening to me?"
"No. No, not really."
"I noticed." He replied dryly.
Laurie pranced like a spoiled princess on the stage, her skirts trailing her small body as it whipped energetically from mark to mark, caught up fully in the text. Richard was beaming openly. A satisfied, almost proud feeling settled in the pit of Jens stomach.
"Shes really talented." Jen whispered.
Teds eyebrows shot up. "What? A compliment for Laurie from the self proclaimed bitch troll?"
Annoyed, Jen glared at him. "Dont you have somewhere to be?"
"Probably. But Ive got one question for you."
"Whatever it is, get someone else to handle it."
"No, Im afraid tThis is a question only you can answer."
She stared him down. "What then?"
"Why dont you just tell her how you feel about her?"
Thunderstruck, Jen stuck out a hand, clutching the back of a chair to keep her knees from buckling from keeling over. It took a moment for her to get her breath back.
"Sucker punch." She growled She replied, flatly.
Ted flinched at the wounded look in Jen's eyes, but held his ground. "Doesnt make it any less true."
"I dont think thats any of your business."
"Funny, thats just what Laurie said." He watched, fascinated at how easily his comment had found its mark. Her eyes widening involuntarily until he was sure they were going to pop out.
Gathering her emotions again quickly, Jen drew herself up to her full height, and gazed down at Teds blank guileless face. "Whats your angle Ted? Why are you saying this?"
"Youre questioning my motives?" He paused, her steely eyes enough of an answer. "Well, I guess I dont blame you."
"That doesnt even come close to answering my question." She barked,slumpeding down into the chair, her arm failing to hold her up any longer.
Ted pulled in a huge breath, grabbed Jen's chin and turned her face towards him. "You want an answer? Fine I'll give you one." She snapped his hand away from her face. Standing back, he went on undaunted. "This is so ridiculous. I wanted you, then I wanted her, but you two want each other!" Her head snapped around so fast she could feel the bones in her neck groaning in protest. Ted was frowning. "At least someone should get something good out of all this crap."
"How terribly self-sacrificing of you." She sneered, was unable to keep the spite from her voice.
"It bugged you that I asked her out. And it bugged you even more that she said yes. But she spent half the night talking about you."
Nothing wrong with a little healthy exaggeration if it achieves the purpose, he reasoned. Its almost true.
"Putting me down and calling me names I bet." She grunted.
"Does it matter? Shes scared of you."
Jen looked up at him, incredulous. "Of me? Why?"
Ted put on his best patient look. "You come off as a little harsh sometimes Jen, you have to admit. And..."
"And what?" She demanded.
"And she's attracted to you. I don't think she's had much experience with women before. It scares her half to death."
Jen fell into a sullen sulk. Annoyingly, she found herself stuck between wanting to punch Ted clean between the eyes for his irritating lack of tact, and kissing him for being so damned right.
She looked down at the stage again, the small blonde figure launching into a string of insults at her Benedick.
Fitting. She grinned wryly.
After a while she looked up. "Who died and made you Cupid?"
Ted gave her a small grin, relieved that she wasn't ripping him apart. "I prefer to think of myself as being more Puck-like, you know, stirring up mischief with magic potions and all that."
Long pause. Jen kept staring at the stage, her heart in her throat.
Finally, she dragged herself to her feet. "Youre going to need a stronger magic potion than that Ted. Too much water under that bridge."
She sighed, and shrugged her shoulders. Seeing the look of frustration on Teds face, she patted him lightly on the shoulder before turning away. Richard spotted her making her way down the aisle and gestured her over emphatically.
Ted watched her retreating back and frowned.
Nice work Jen, you almost had me believing it. But youve always underestimated how stubborn I can be.
He nodded to himself, and wandered Not the least bit daunted, Ted headed off towards Marie, who had come out from backstage and was sitting in the third row of seats from the back, inspecting the stage with satisfaction.
"Hey Marie." He called out.
"Hey Ted, what's up?"
"Nothing much. Or maybe a lot. It'll depend on Jen and Laurie." He began.
"Jen and Laurie?" She replied, perplexed.
"Yup. I have a little scheme in the works, and I think I might need your help."
He smiled, sat down, and began to explain his plan.
Continued in Act Five - Conclusion.
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