I walk into the coffee shop half an hour late (but at least in real clothes) to find that Perry and Priscilla are already there, occupying a corner table and waving at me. Tony gives me a tiny salute and a grin, going to make my coffee.

Nice – if I’d been here on time I could’ve actually ordered something different for once.

I mean not that I probably would’ve, but Per could’ve at least texted me to ask what I wanted.

I wonder how much I can get away with talking about without mentioning the promotion, or, if I do, how I should bring it up. Because there are certain questions I’m very much not allowed to answer, and other ones I’m just not going to want to, and here are two prime candidates for asking those very questions. Case in point.

“Fox, tell me Katie Kate and Vicky Alice have a history,” Perry says, leaning forward and widening her eyes earnestly at me.

I bet this is how she gets people to sell her life rights. “What,” I say, smartly.

Priscilla rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “She means Sassy Kitten and Vector Analysis.”

“Oh my god.” I stare at Perry. “You’re not writing capeslash again, are you? Because, seriously, I’m not betaing anything else where you write weird shit about my friends having sex.”

“It’s so terribly, painfully sad that you don’t know their names,” she informs me.

“Yes, those are definitely their actual names, and I’m sure they’re ridiculously pleased to have such a devoted cult,” I say, “why the sudden interest?”

Perry grins. “I met Sex Kitten.”

“She’s never been called that a day in her life,” I explain.

Perry rolls her eyes, then gets cut off as Priscilla interjects, “she was an extra in the latest, they talked for all of ten minutes, and now, apparently Per’s in love.”

“Like you didn’t swoon the minute you laid eyes on her,” Perry mutters, with a pout.

“As far as I know, they don’t have a history, no,” I tell her. Only mildly sarcastically. “Also, I’ve never had any indication that Vector likes the ladies, so I wouldn’t bet on it.”

She leans back in her chair, tossing her hair out of her eyes. “Yeah, but you’ve never really been all that effective at telling what the ladies do or don’t like, have you?”

“I’d think she would’ve mentioned it sometime in the past five years,” I say.

Per suppresses a grin as she sips on her coffee. Priscilla and I pretty much roll our eyes in unison, because she’s obviously trying to get my goad at this point.

“What about Hunch?” she asks. “Are he and –”

“Happily and very monogamously married,” I say, and get up to get my own drink from Tony, who just laughs at me, and is absolutely no help at all, not even for stalling.

She tilts her head, and I have no better word than ‘shit-eating’ to describe the horrible way her mouth stretches across her smug face. “How is he in bed, Travis?”

“Still married,” I say, “has been since before we met, not liable to cheat on his wife, hasn’t ever as far as I know, and, by the way, still calls me ‘kid’, so I doubt there’s any feelings there.”

“Depends on what he’s into,” Priscilla mutters into her drink. “Maybe a little schoolgirl –”

I shoot her a glare. Then I shoot one at Perry for good measure.

“So, is your roommate still being an asshole?” Perry says, expression not changing one whit.

“Fuck you, Perry,” I say, reflexively, never mind that she’s dead on about exactly what’s bothering me right now, because once in a while it is a coincidence, and fuck her amateur detectiving.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Perry. We’ve been pretty much inseparable since we got over whatever shit went down in middle school (can you ever actually figure that stuff out after the fact?). That doesn’t mean she’s not even more of an asshole than Darren from time to time.

Priscilla frowns sympathetically at me, and I’m not sure if she’s being sarcastic. “I thought you’d solved that issue before he moved in? Whatever happens, though, remember, we’re here for you, hon.”

“I thought you were over it, too,” Perry murmurs. “Sorry, Fox, I didn’t realize there was still something going on with all that.”

“Yeah, well,” I say, “that makes all of us. But. You know. He’s stressed. Work stuff.”

“I know your job encourages douchebaggery, but it’s not exactly an excuse, is it?” Priscilla pats my hand. “Maybe the two of you should see a therapist.”

“Or we could beat him up for you,” Perry offers. “We can…talk…some sense into him.”

“Yes, I’m totally going to let you beat up Darren,” I agree. “Can you do Thursday, or when?”

“Fine, be that way,” Perry says, “talk things out like healthy, responsible adults. See if I care. Never end up on the big screen, I’ll tell you that for free.”

I give her a skeptical look. “What, but it’s high drama if you get in a fight with someone you never even liked in the first place?”

“We like Darren fine, sweetie,” Priscilla tells me.

I shift my skeptical look to her, and she shrugs. “Also, if I might remind you, he practices punching for a living, and you two occasionally go to stunt conferences.”

“I’ll get my epee,” Perry says, “he’s still not better at fencing than I am.”

“I think if you try to repeatedly whack him with a sword, he’s going to start fighting dirty,” I muse, although the mental image is pretty funny. Darren just looks so grumpy.

Priscilla shrugs. “We can put itching powder in his underwear.”

I wince slightly, and cross my legs.

“Fine,” Priscilla says, “we can put dye in his shampoo. Any number of juvenile pranks. I have nieces. I can call them.”

“They’re only a year apart and the younger one’s just starting middle school,” Perry explicates, “so you know they’ve got some heinous ideas banging around in there.”

“Yes, pranks will solve all the world’s problems,” I agree. “Let’s get a pan of warm water.”

Priscilla smirks. “Well, at least now we know what you’re into.”

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