Blackie watched Red wipe down the top of the bar. "So how've you been?" she asked, her voice quiet.
Red glanced at Blackie for a second, then resumed cleaning. "Good, good..."
Blackie took a drink out of the bottle of beer that had been sitting on the counter, then looked around. "You did a great job with this place..."
Red looked up. "Yeah, well, when Brown had to sell the place, I figured it'd be better for me to take it instead of it turning into...I don't know...fag-bashing biker bar or something of the sort..."
Blackie chuckled. "Yeah..."
Red picked up some glasses and moved them to the sink. "So when'd you get out?"
Blackie raised an eyebrow. "Still going straight to the point, huh, Red?" She drank some more beer. "I got out a couple of days ago..."
Red turned and looked at Blackie, her eyes glittering. "And the first thing you do is come back here?" She shook her head. "It's been fifteen years, Blackie..." she said quietly. "Things've changed...I'm not the girl you knew back then...and I haven't been exactly keeping a torch for you..."
Blackie nodded. "I know," she said in a low voice. "I wasn't expecting things to be the same..." She stood up. "I just...I just wanted to see you again, that's all." She paused for a moment, then began walking away.
Red leaned forward. "Blackie?" she said.
Blackie turned around. "Yeah?"
Red looked down. "I...um...I'll be done closing up in about an hour...want to go for a cup of coffee or something?"
Blackie smiled widely. "Sure."
"Mom..." Rose began.
Coral poked her head around the kitchen door, setting down the wok she had been holding. "What's up, hon?" Rose shifted her weight as she toyed with the Gap badge still affixed to her shirt. "C'mon, spill."
"Did you invite her?"
"Her." Rose pointed into the dining room, where Ruby was sitting with her arm wrapped around Copper's shoulder.
Coral sighed. "Honey, you need to get over this thing against Ruby. She and Copper are in love. They've been together since Copper was a senior in college. That's nearly seven years!"
"But Mom! They're both girls! It's...unnatural!"
"How long have you known your sister was a lesbian? Eight, ten years?"
"I kno-ow, Mom. It's just eeww...yuck!"
Shaking her head as she grabbed a few of the dishes, Coral said, "Help me carry out this stuff."
Spice looked up from her conversation with Ruby and Cola as the pair walked into the room. She jumped up and took a few dishes from Coral, setting them down on the table.
"Ahem," Rose said, looking down at her own load of dishes.
"Do it yourself," Spice scoffed as she sat back down.
Rose scowled and sat the food down on the glossy black table with a thump. The group ate in silence for a minute until Ruby spoke up. "So...Coral...what've you been up to?"
Coral smiled at her daughter's girlfriend. "Well, I've been working at the hospital a lot now that Mr. Shimmer's out of the country. Actually, speaking of...Copper, I was wondering if I could ask you -- well, both of you, really -- a favor." She looked at Copper expectedly.
Ruby poked Copper in the side.
"Oh!" Copper looked up. "What is it, Mom?"
"Nat called me yesterday and asked me to come out and spend our anniversary together in Rome." She paused. "I was wondering if you would mind having Rose over at your house while I was gone."
"Mom!" Rose whined. "Why can't I stay here? I can take care of myself."
"No, you can't." Coral turned back to Copper and Ruby as her youngest daughter began to pout. "So, can you guys do it?"
Copper glanced over at Ruby. The other woman glanced over at Rose and made a face, then sighed like a martyr. "Sure, Coral."
"Great, I'll send her tomorrow."
Copper blinked. "Tomorrow?"
"Well, yes," Coral said matter-of-factly. "Nat wanted me to fly out right away. Is that a problem?" She smiled a little sheepishly.
Out of the corner of her eye, Ruby could see Spice and Cola snickering at Rose, who was slouched down low in her seat. Clenching her teeth, she ground out, "No problem. No problem at all."
Coral beamed. "Great!"
Rose scowled at the rest of people sitting around the dining table, Ruby and Copper having left earlier to, as Ruby put it, "clean their house before anyone was around to hear." "But Mom...."
"Be quiet, Rose, it's been decided," Coral replied, not looking up from her ice cream.
Rose scowled and looked over at Spice.
"You're gonna get lesbian cooties," the curly haired girl sing-songed, grinning evilly.
Sticking her tongue out, Rose got up from the table and stomped into the living room. She sat down with a huff on the sofa next to Cola. She looked over at him.
"I hate everyone in this house!" she yelled.
Cola opened his mouth, about to respond, but he was interrupted by a ringing sound. He fished his cell phone out of his pocket and brought it to his ear. "Hello? Oh hey, Gothic. Tomorrow? Yeah. Sure. Bye!"
The Next Day...
Mr. Nutrisse looked over the painstakingly hand-lettered menus on his desk, then back up at the woman sitting in front of him. He took in the neat suit and short black hair, then said, "Well, these menus are quite something. We'd be foolish not to let you cater our show."
"We have everything you could possibly need, and then some," the woman said with a slight smile.
"You've got the job."
She reached across the table and shook his outstretched hand. "Thank you. We'll begin work shortly."
As she began to gather the menus together, placing them in her briefcase, Mr. Nutrisse continued. "I can't tell you how relieved I was when I heard you had opened up here in Rosewood. You're so much more..." He paused, searching for the right words. "...family oriented than Shimsion."
Smiling neutrally, Midnight Ruby, owner and president of Midnight Snack Catering, snapped her briefcase shut with a click. "We aim to please, sir," she replied crisply, then turned on her heel and left the room.
Cola walked into the small studio. "Gothic?" he said, his voice echoing in the room.
Gothic stepped out of the small side room. "Hey, Cola," he said quietly.
Cola looked at the other man, ignoring the little leap his heart gave. "What's going on?" he asked.
Gothic looked down at the ground. "Well....you know how Misty and I have been fighting a lot..."
Cola raised an eyebrow. "Don't you guys always fight?"
Gothic just gave him a sarcastic look. "And you know how...well...I've been saying how I'm interested in somebody else...."
Cola blinked. "Y-yeah?" he said, trying to keep his voice level.
Gothic sighed. "Cola, I..." He paused. "When I was in college...I...maybe you heard this already...but I dated Blondie." He gave Cola a deep thoughtful look. "I'm...I'm not as straight as you think...and...well...I think you can guess who I'm interested in..."
Cola closed his eyes for a second, trying not to dance or sing or shriek in joy. "Oh..." he finally said in a quiet voice.
Gothic smiled tenderly. "I...I just wanted you to know, get it out in the open..." He sighed. "I'm going to go now." He gave Cola another smile, then walked out the front door.
Once outside, he turned, seeing Misty standing next to the doorway. She grinned widely, then held up her fingers. 1...2...3... she counted silently.
"Gothic, wait!" Cola shouted from the studio. He came running out, tackling Gothic, pushing him against the wall in frantic, needy kisses.
From the doorway, unobserved by Cola or Gothic, Misty continued to smile.