More Than Friendship Material Pt. 06byStory_Spinner©
Liz sat next to Todd, handing him a bottle water. He looked a little pale and tired, but was smiling. "Hey, here you go."
He took it with a grateful sigh and took a long gulp. She touched his forehead lightly and smiled, "Well, no fever. You doing alright?"
He nodded, "Yeah, just a little sore."
She laughed softly, her smile soft and sweet. "I'm sure Mary has some peas."
He rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Hell no. I thought you angels had mercy."
She giggled and Ben elbowed him in the ribs. "Aw come on man, we don't care. I'll get your pea bag."
That set Mary and Liz both giggling as Todd glared at his best friend. "When I'm better, it's on buddy."
"If the next entertainment's anything like the last one, I'm sure it'll be great." Allen said.
"Why sir, are you flirting with me," Hollie laughed with an affected British accent.
Allen responded in kind. " Of course not. That would be too forward and not befitting of a gentleman."
"Well if anything, you most certainly are that," Hollie replied."But, no, this next show is much different. I should probably get it started though. Save me a seat?"
"Of course, miss." Allen said with a smile.
Hollie got up and gathered Mary and Ben. "Excuse me guys, " she said to Liz and Todd. " I have to talk to our hosts for a second."
Liz eyed Hollie curiously, suddenly feeling like both of them were up to something, but Todd shrugged it off. Allen on the other hand was smiling, his eyes looking towards Hollie time and time again. Liz felt for certain now that the big lug just maybe had the beginnings of a crush on her friend, which made her smile.
Although it would complicate things, she pursed her lips and lost herself in thought for a moment. And then suddenly Ben returned and threw his arm around his buddy and Hollie reappeared, leaving Mary to dim the lights. "Movie?" Liz asked and she smiled wickedly. "I swear, Mary, if you put on porn, I'm leaving."
"Porn? Please Liz, why would I want to remind Todd and Allen of work?" Mary asked innocently, "I wouldn't show porn, but remember we're making some Tuesday. Bring the peach preserves."
"Hollie's allergic to peaches, Mary. How about strawberry?" Liz answered with a wink.
"Stop talking business you two," Hollie interrupted. "It's show time."
Ben hit play and he, Mary, and Hollie quietly backed away from Liz and Todd. A screen title shot started playing. "An M & H production, brought to you by the number 2, the letters T & L, and the makers of Lortab," Then the video started and the scene faded into Mary, Ben, Todd & Liz at the lake.
"Oh this is cool," Todd said. "You got that camping trip made into a DVD."
"Shhhhh," Mary said. "Just watch." The camera panned on to Todd and Liz, and "You Belong With Me" began to play. When Todd's and Liz's words began, no one else talked till the film was over and had been over for five minutes.
Liz was having a hard time breathing. She blinked slowly, realizing that she had a tight grip on Todd's knee and quickly releasing it. His words had brought tears to her eyes and she had let them slip down her cheeks untouched. She dared not look at him. Dared not to look at anyone. How was she supposed to react? She already knew her feelings and felt both mortified and absurdly excited that everything was on the table. He knew. He knew and he felt something for her. On numb legs, she stood up and mumbled something that sounded a bit like 'excuse me', but she wasn't entirely sure that's what she had said before she rushed out the door and slammed it behind.
Cold air hit her lungs and sent a shiver down her spine. "Oh god..." She mumbled. Her stomach rolled with nerves, threatening to lose her dinner right there on her shoes. What was she going to do?
Todd was basically numb as he watched Liz run out and slam the door. He turned to the three friends behind him, as Allen casually slipped out to the back porch to give everyone some privacy. The words were difficult to get out and Todd could only voice a few. "How...I never...why?"
Ben, Mary and Hollie looked back and forth at one another. They had known this course of action could be problematic. Ben was the first to respond. "Dude, you're my best friend, and you know we all think the world of Liz. I know it's a shock to both of you, but it was done out of love."
Mary continued. "We saw what was going on, and you two were just too close to it. Neither of you would want to face things, and that wasn't fair to anybody. There needed to be a resolution, so that you could both move forward. Whatever that means for you...." She broke into tears.
Hollie picked up the conversation as Mary's voice tailed off. "It was my idea. Mary helped and Ben knew, but it was mostly me who set it up. You know I care about you Todd, and I'm getting closer to Liz every day. God knows that if you're available I'd like to see where we could go together, but if there was a "might have been" at all with Liz, y'all needed to address it. I was there for both of you. I was talking to you as Liz and to Liz as you. I heard every word, could feel them. You both needed to be honest with each other and this was the best way I could think of. I hope you can forgive me."
Todd lowered his head so that his hands covered his eyes. "I don't know what to say...to think..I just need to..to..."
"Go on..." Hollie's sniffled, mascara making tracks down her soft cheeks. "She needs you."
Ben stepped up and put his hand on Todd's shoulder. "And you need her. Go. Talk. Things will work out like they're supposed to." Todd got up hugged each of his friends in turn, gave a thank you nod to Allen out on the porch, and walked out the door. Just to what, he didn't know.
Liz had found a hard seat on the steps of the apartments, trying to calm her nerves. She heard the apartment door shut and stiffened, sucking in a deep breath and blowing it out slowly. Brushing away her tears, she swallowed and tried to calm her racing heart. When he finally moved, she wanted to bolt, but hugged her knees instead and kept her gaze focused at her feet.
He shuffled to where she sat and slowly, carefully sat next to her. His body brushed close to hers and she squashed the shudder. He blew out his own deep breath and they sat for a few terrible moments, not speaking until he gently nudged his knee against hers. She sniffled softly and lifted her a head to gaze ahead.
"I don't know about you..." She said softly, her voice wavering, "But I want my money back for that movie."
"I don't know. The lead actor was pretty good and I thought you liked the sad stuff," Todd said with a smile. "And no one died in this one..."
Liz gave him a half hearted punch. "You know what I mean."
"Not so much these days, I don't," he answered. "That's why they did what they did. They explained it to me, and they were right. I haven't known what the hell was up between us for a while. Things kept staying in flux and circumstances getting in the way. Hollie, Kevin, Allen, peas, Vogue..."
"I read the quiz you filled out that said we weren't compatible romantically. I thought things would go back to normal then, even if my quiz results weren't the same."
Liz smiled a little, picturing Todd as he filled out a Vogue Quiz. Why did he have to be so cute and goofy? "Those quizzes aren't very good anyway. But what is normal? That's what I want to know. I don't think we've ever been normal. No one else thinks so. We've been together longer than most married couples, and we actually like each other." She blew out another breath and turned slightly to look at him, her pretty blue eyes still a bit watery and her make-up smudged. When she spoke again, her voice cracked and wavered. "I don't want to screw up what we have. I don't want to lose you."
Todd thought for a moment. "Stay here," he said. "I need to go to the car for a bit."
"OK," Liz sniffed, as Todd walked over to the car in the lot. She could see him get in and sit there for a few minutes, but she didn't know what he was doing. Maybe he was upset and trying to cool off. He didn't seem to be talking to anyone on the phone. Finally, he got out and walked back to where she was sitting.
"OK, if you're worried about losing me, then take my Rogue quiz. It's like Vogue, but manly." Todd said with a smile He pulled out a folded piece of paper from his pocket. Here are the questions. I'll go back inside. You finish the quiz. Bring it back to me when you're done and I'll grade it." He handed the paper to her, hugged her and went back inside.
Liz found herself smiling at his silly questions. "Rogue" magazine? She shook her head and sighed. He was a dork to top it all off. But she dutifully filled out the questionnaire, not really wanting to return to the party. But after several long calming breaths, she stood and went back inside. Everyone was quiet and as she closed the door, Hollie all but launched herself into her arms.
She laughed and handed the quiz to Todd over the little blonde's head and hugged her back. "I'm sorry if this hurts you in any way."
Liz gave her a squeeze and then pushed her gently away. "Please." She leaned close and whispered, "You're my Todd in girl form, remember? And hey, you've gotten more action with me than he has."
The two giggled and parted, Liz plopping down next to Todd who was studiously 'grading' her paper.
As Liz sat on the couch next to Todd, the rest of the gang scattered to give them space. Todd looked over the answers as he graded the quiz. Of course, she got bonus points for actually taking it.
1. Do you plan to become a fan of University of Kentucky sports, the Dallas Cowboys, The New York Yankees, or the LA Lakers? no CORRECT
2.Are you now or do you ever intend to become a zombie that may devour my brains without my consent? Highly doubtful 3/4 CREDIT. Leaving open the zombie option is disconcerting.
3. True or False: You enjoy kicking kittens. False CORRECT
4. Which of the following should be slapped repeatedly a)grandmas, b)mimes c)babies d) even more mimes B and D - final answer. D WAS INTENDED TO BE CORRECT BUT YOUR ANSWER RESULTS IN MORE SLAPPED MIMES. CORRECT PLUS 5 BONUS POINTS
5.True or False. Captain Crunch is a basic food group. True CORRECT
6.Thanksgiving Day is meant for: a)food; b) the Macy's parade c) football d) shopping e) all but d D. Fridays for shopping. I should have said Thanksgiving weekend, but...CORRECT.
7.True or false: Hitler was framed. False CORRECT
8. Do you believe that guys should give up all their friends and only hang out with their significant other. Hell no, we all need space. CORRECT
9. Do you believe that women should give up on their own dreams, just because of some loser guy. Nope - def. not. CORRECT
10. Clowns are _______________Creepy! CORRECT
11.Everything can be made better with a)beer b)chocolate c)nudity d)killer robots e) all of the above E! DAMN STRAIGHT E CORRECT
12. Have you completely forgotten who we are or how much we mean to each other? Seriously, come on Liz. We're family. Never forgotten, just momentarily confused. ACCEPTABLE ANSWER
BONUS POINTS FOR NOT TREATING THIS AS SILLY: 15
Score: 118% Outside of the unlikely event of your becoming undead and eating my brain, you are in virtually no danger of EVER losing me. As the highest scorer ever on the ROGUE Magazine quiz, you have earned special rewards. See me later for your official achievement award.
Todd handed the scored document back to Liz. "If you have any questions about the quiz, see me during office hours," he said. "They start at midnight."
She smiled and gave him a slight nod, tucking the paper into her pocket and looking over at their friends. They all looked a little sheepish and guilty, apart from Allen who had nothing to do with the whole plan. But he smiled at her, having been privy to her secret before they had arrived. "So, are we all going to mope around this joint tonight or are we going to have some fun before it gets late?" she asked. Hollie let out a whoop and did a little, silly dance, shaking her bottom against Allen, who pretend to get knocked to the side.
They all laughed and broke out more drinks and a pile of movies. Liz snuggled between Todd and Ben, everyone sitting in a boy/girl/boy/girl order as they began a movie marathon.
The rest of the evening went off without a hitch until Todd's head lulled to the side and Liz was sure he was too tired to drive home. Gently she shook him awake and nudged Ben, whose cheeks bulged with popcorn. "I think it's time I take sleeping beauty home. Mind helping us out?"
"Freaking lightweight," Ben said sarcastically, but he helped wake and get Todd up.
"I'll help get him to the car," Allen offered. "I have to go to work anyway. It's been fun." Allen took over supporting Todd who was almost sleepwalking. Hollie and Mary hugged and kissed both guys. Ben hugged Liz and gave Allen a fist pound. Then the three headed out the door. Allen got Todd to the car with little problem, and poured him into the back seat.
"You going to be OK getting him inside at home?" Allen asked Liz.
"Yeah," she said."I know secret ninja tricks."
Allen chuckled and kissed Liz on the top of the head. "I didn't know anything about what they were doing before," he said, 'but I could hear everything they said while you guys were outside. They all really care for both of you. Now it's your turn to figure things out. Here's the thing though. I've been in situations that were literally life or death. I was lucky and came through them mostly OK. I can tell you though, knowing how short life can be, that it would absolutely suck going through life with any regrets. So don't, OK?"
Liz hugged Allen hard. "Thanks Allen. You were the best date I've had in a really long time."
Allen blushed. "Same goes for me."
Liz turned and opened the car door. Then she hesitated. Turning back, she grabbed him and kissed him hard. Surprised at first, it took a few second, but he quickly responded. When she let go of the embrace, Allen had a stunned but happy expression.
"Thanks, but what was that about?"
"You deserved a good night kiss, and no regrets, right? I may have regretted not giving you one, and I hope you'd have regretted not getting one." Liz winked at the big man and drove away.
Todd yawned and mumbled as she drove away. Poor thing had to be exhausted, between healing, the meds, and getting back on his feet again. Then with this turn of events, all that high impact emotion. It was amazing that he hadn't passed out earlier. She smiled, thinking of Allen's words. How sweet was he? If things worked out with Todd, she hoped that Hollie wouldn't hold back and go for the big guy. He had a side that the guys didn't get to see, but she could tell he was a sweetheart, even if he harbored a few scars.
Back at their place, Liz gently nudged Todd back to the land of the living. He smiled at her and groaned as she carefully pulled him out of the car and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Come on sleepy, lets get you to bed."
"You just want to use my body." He grumbled and she giggled.
"Well, it's been a long time, a veeerrry long time, but I do remember that I prefer my men a bit more responsive than you," she teased.
Back at Ben & Mary's, Hollie was helping the couple clean up some before bed. The night had been eventful for sure. One she'd never forget, and she doubted anyone else would either. She sent Cindy a text message that she was going to crash there again that night. She was a little keyed up still, and the thought crossed her mind about another session with Mary to burn some energy and just feel good. But, she decided to let that go "Unless they ask," she thought with a grin.
"Yo, short stuff," Ben hollered. "Throw me that roll of paper towels." Hollie grabbed it and tossed it over to him.
Mary was putting things in the refrigerator.
"Hey Hollie, that apple's still in here and Liz left with both guys. Want me to hang on to it for you?" she teased.
"I think I may need to make a pie out of it," Hollie answered. "More effective delivery system." The girls started giggling.
"I don't know what that means," Ben said, "and I'm too drunk to care. Should I even set the alarm for tomorrow, hun?"
"Of course," Mary said seriously. "Five thirty in the morning. We have to go to sunrise worship service with my parents. I told you that last night." A look of horror came over Ben's face.
Mary held it for a few seconds before laughing hysterically. "Sorry," she said. "I didn't think I could even get through that statement with a straight face."
Hollie piped up. "Hey guys. I didn't ask before, but I assume it's OK if I crash here again isn't it?"
"Of course, sweetie," Mary answered. "You're always welcome."
"Especially if you wear that costume again," Ben added. "GIVE ME A B! GIVE ME A J!"
"Say that again and I'll give you a concussion," Mary snarked. "Only I get to be with other girls. Of course if you wanted one from another guy..."
Ben shuddered. "Not in this lifetime. Er, not that there's anything wrong with that." They all laughed some more as they finished straightening up. When they were done, they were all beat.
Hollie yawned. "I think I'm done y'all. Just for the record though, Liz seemed OK after didn't she."
"I think so," Mary said. "Only time will tell. Did you see what Todd was writing on when she came back in?"
"Nope," Hollie said. "Ben?"
"No. Wonder what that was. I'll ask him later."
"K," Hollie said. "I'd give anything to know what was happening with them now. Guess we'll find out soon enough though. I'm not going to intrude any more tonight."
"It wasn't intruding, it was intervening. And are you sure you're done?" Mary said with a wink.
"Well..." Hollie answered
"I thought not," Mary said with a wicked smile. "Good night Ben. We'll see you in the morning."
"OK, good night," he answered absentmindedly as he flipped through some TV channels. Then he realized what she had said. "Hey, what do you mean in the morning?"
"That'll teach you to ask another girl for a B." she replied as they slipped into the guest room.
Without much incident Todd and Liz managed to make it into the apartment, where she dropped him off in his room and promised to return shortly. Securing their door and flipping off lights, Liz kicked off her shoes and padded back to Todd, feeling a little out of sorts. Excited and nervous, weary and wondering what would happen now. He was obviously exhausted and when she walked into his room, he was fighting with his shirt, trying to peel if off his back and over his head. She smiled and laughed softly. "Attack of the killer shirt," she mused out loud, capturing the untamed garment and tossing the material over her shoulder.
Dropping to her knees, she unlaced his sneakers and pulled them off as he flopped back onto his back and groaned dramatically. "How did I ever manage to ever do any of this without you?"
She let out a soft snort, "Well, considering I've known you all this time, between me and your mother, you've never gone without help."
Todd chuckled deeply and struggled back up to a sitting position. Liz sat back on her legs and looked up at him, feeling vulnerable and worried. She really wasn't sure what to do or say about the whole situation. "So..." she pulled the quiz out of her back pocket and waved it in front of his nose. "What exactly is my reward?"