Nine Times Lucky

Written for JoanDarck in Out of Contxt '06

NOTE: this story contains adult content.

Love always happened to Frannie in a sledgehammer kind of way: all-at-once and head-over-heels, big-time, no-act, deep-as-oceans.

It went like that in high school, when she lost her heart three times in a row--wham, bam, thank you very much--to a string of clowns who didn't appreciate her (or even, in the case of one of them, know who she was). And it didn't stop when she graduated, either. She'd just fall in love with the priest at church, or the guy who stocked the shelves at the greengrocer's--or, God help her, with the handsome weirdo of a Mountie her brother brought home from work. It was ridiculous, already. Some days it seemed like there were crushes everywhere out there, just waiting to jump out at her, and she didn't get to have a say in the matter at all. And hello--did she look like a woman who enjoyed humiliation? No, she did not. But that never stopped her stupid heart from wanting what it wanted. When it came to love, she was doomed.

Well. That was what she always thought, anyways. That was what she figured they could put on her headstone: Here lies Frannie Vecchio, Beautiful and Doomed. But nobody ever said Frannie could predict the future--and even if she could, she probably wouldn't have believed it anyway.

*

Elaine smacked her lips when she was sleeping. She smacked her lips and she talked sometimes: "why don't you do it?" and "not anymore, she doesn't." She slept in a white camisole, if she slept in anything at all. She hogged the covers, but not the bed. If you put your arm around her, she'd sniff and slide in closer, all without waking once. She had this smell, like soap and coffee (which she drank too much of, even according to Frannie), and anybody who slept in the same bed as her was bound to spend the whole next morning finding long and curling stray hairs clinging to their pajamas, or wound around around their wrist.

Frannie lay in bed for a while after she woke up, having to pee but not wanting to move because when else would she get a chance to see Elaine so peaceful? The woman worried constantly, from the minute she was awake. And even now, if Frannie touched the tip of her finger to the bridge of Elaine's nose, Elaine would wrinkle up her forehead and frown a terrible frown, like having a finger on your nose was a crime against humanity or something. Frannie grinned and did it again, because she couldn't stop herself, and Elaine cracked open one eye.

"You are a terrible person," she said.

"Good morning to you, too," said Frannie.

Elaine closed her eye again and scowled, then found Frannie's finger and pressed it to her lips. "What time is it?" she mumbled, into Frannie's skin.

Frannie swallowed. "Um. Seven-thirty, I think."

Elaine huffed acknowledgement and moved her lips to Frannie's wrist, so Frannie curled her fingers around Elaine's sleep-warm cheek and stroked the curve of her jaw with a thumb.

"Wait," Elaine said, after a little while. "Seven-thirty?"

Frannie squinted at her. "Yeah."

Elaine groaned and rolled to her feet, already hunting for her socks. "Shit, shit, shit. I'm supposed to be relieving Kelly right now. She's staking out the Riggs place for--uh--where's my shirt?"

Frannie fished on the floor on her side of the bed and handed it to her. "You got back-up?"

Elaine shrugged. "It's just surveillance." She pulled on the shirt, buttoned it a little crazy and tucked it in.

Frannie frowned. "So what? You never know what could happen."

Elaine sighed. "Frannie," she said. She had her gun out of the lockbox, now, and was shrugging into the holster, fumbling at the clasps.

Frannie sighed, too. She leaned up on one elbow, crooked a finger. "Come here," she said. "No, just--Elaine. Really. Your holster's on backwards." But when Elaine bent so she could reach the leather straps, Frannie just hooked her fingers in them and pulled her close enough to kiss. She tasted like morning breath, but her lips were warm and she kissed Frannie back after a moment's hesitation, her fingers pushing into Frannie's hair.

"Go back to sleep," she said. "Or, no--pee first, then go back to sleep. You're going to give yourself a hernia or something." And then she leaned back in for one more kiss before she finally rushed out the door.

And yeah, that was the whole trick right there, Frannie thought, listening to Elaine's undone boots clomping down the hall. The sledgehammer wasn't so bad, so long as you weren't the only one getting hit with it.

Or, you know. Something like that.