Nine: Lectures



Amy sighed as she took another bite of her cereal. Renee sat beside her at the bar counter in the kitchenette, pouting. "I didn't do it on purpose," Amy said.

"That's what you always say. You did it to get back at me for something." Renee played with her cereal for a silent second before plunking down her spoon and facing Amy with a frown. "I can't believe you cancelled! You knew I wanted to meet Mark Frasier, and you let him slip through your fingers!"

Amy faced her, eyes wide. "I didn't, Renee! I swear! He just couldn't do it!"

Renee scoffed as she turned her attention back to her cereal. She plunked her elbow onto the counter and picked up her spoon. "You owe me big, Amy."

"Why? I didn't get to have dinner with Mr. Harrison."

"Yeah, like that's a loss. He's probably the one that made it impossible for Mark to come."

Amy sighed and turned back to her breakfast. "You don't have to be mean, Renee. You don't even know him. In fact, you don't know either of them. Maybe Mark didn't want to come because he didn't want to meet another crazy fan."

"Well that was uncalled for."

"And so was your crack about--"

Knock Knock Knock

Amy and Renee stared at each other, wide-eyed, mid-word. Then Amy looked over her shoulder at the door while Renee leaned to her left to do the same.

Knock Knock Knock

Amy and Renee tumbled off the bar stools, squealing and pushing as they both scrambled up and over and around furniture to get to the door first. Then Amy and Renee both fumbled and fought with the chain and lock, still giggling and protesting when the other supposedly played dirty. Finally, Amy got the door unlocked and opened, shoving Renee out of the way.

Amy blinked up into the amused expression of Garret as he stood with arms crossed and eyebrow raised. "Have I come at a bad time? Or have you finished murdering your roommate?"

Amy smiled. "Hi."

Renee shoved Amy out of the way. "Cheater," she complained. Then she faced their guest and blinked. "Aren't you that Garret Harrison guy Amy was so wild about at the audition?"

Amy met Garret’s glance with a wink as she righted herself from the knick-knack table used to rescue her from falling.

"Yes, I am," he said in his most charming voice. Garret produced a hand. "And who might you be?"

Renee took the hand and gave it a firm shake. "Renee Adams." She examined Garret's expression and then, when he had released her hold, she motioned behind her and stepped back. "Come in."

Garret did, and then he reached out to take Amy's hand too. "Miss Burke. How are you this morning?"

Amy's eyes crinkled at the corners. "Good. Thank you. Yourself?"

Renee turned away, moving toward the bar counter to pick up their breakfast dishes. Garret used the opportunity to lift her palm to his lips. "Better," he whispered. Then Garret straightened, releasing Amy's hand as he said "Very well. Thank you" in a louder voice.

Renee returned from taking their dishes to the sink. "What can we do for you, Mr. Harrison?"

"I had heard from Mr. Frasier that he and Ms. Heron were to have a rehearsal this morning with Miss Burke." He looked to Amy. "I had hoped to participate, if you don't mind."

"Of course I don't mind," Amy said. "You're more than welcome. Would you like some breakfast?"

"What is offered?"

"We've just had some granola."

"Sounds marvelous."

"Coming right up." Though she couldn't imagine Sir Garret Harrison eating granola.  Amy smiled and headed toward the kitchenette. She noticed, though, that Renee watched the pair with crossed arms and a suspicious expression.

Garret sat beside Renee on the available stool. "So, Miss Adams. What is it that you do?"

"I'm a receptionist."

Amy set a bowl in front of Garret and then turned to retrieve the carton of granola.

"A receptionist?"

"Yes. Why the shock?" Renee asked, clearly annoyed.

"I do apologize. I forsook you for a model."

Amy withheld a snigger, wiping her face of all but a simple smile as she turned back to the bar counter and poured out some granola. Garret had just gained about 100 points in his favor.

Renee adjusted her crossed arms after gesturing to Amy for a mug of coffee. "Nope. I don't have the right connections."

"Connections? With a physique such as yours? Bah! The agent that told you such was a fool."

Amy took down a coffee mug.

"If you would be so kind, Miss Burke."

Amy sent a smile over her shoulder. "Sure thing." She retrieved mug number two and three. Then she retrieved the creamer and the milk from the fridge. She poured the milk over Garret's granola and then dipped a spoon into it.

"Many thanks, Miss Burke."

"Uh-huh." Amy turned to prepare the coffee once she had returned the milk to the fridge.

"Tell me the name of the agent representing you, and I will personally run him out of business."

Renee wasn't sure whether to believe Garret or not. Amy could tell by the way she silently regarded him before speaking. "I don't remember his name."

"Then he must not have been a very memorable character. Miss Burke, might I have a little honey for my granola?"

Amy brought the three mugs over, setting them beside the creamer. "Sure." Then she turned and gathered the honey and the coffee pot. "There you go."

"Thank you." Garret spooned some of the honey onto his granola as Amy poured some coffee into each mug. "Miss Adams, allow me three days and I will have you a modeling position for Allure or Vogue. Have you a portfolio?"

Amy's eyes twinkled. Garret had just hit a homerun, and Renee would likely offer to have his children.

"I haven't updated it recently," Renee said, dazed.

"I will have a photographer give you a call to set up an appointment to do so, if that is acceptable?"

Renee didn't say a word. Amy chuckled. "Just say 'yes', Renee."

"Yes." But Renee's tone made Amy doubt if Renee believed she'd said anything at all.

Garret smiled. "Excellent. I would suggest that you give your employer notice. I doubt you will be working there much longer."

"I will," Renee said, still dazed. "Thank you."

Amy pushed a mug of coffee toward Renee. "Renee, you better drink this in a hurry. Or you're going to be late."

"Late? Late!" Renee stood to her feet and rushed to the door, coffee forgotten as she grabbed her purse and keys and coat. "See you later, Amy!" she called as she did. Then she froze with her hand on the doorknob. Renee turned and looked at Garret. "Thank you, Mr. Harrison. I appreciate it."

Garret smiled, lifting his coffee mug toward her in a salute. "Don't mention it, Miss Adams. My pleasure."

Renee smiled, which brightened her entire face, and then turned to leave the apartment. Amy leaned her arms against the counter across from Garret, eyes twinkling as she watched his face. Garret faced her, watching her over his cup of coffee as he took a sip.

"You didn't really think she was a model, did you?"

One side of Garret's lips lifted as he set down his coffee mug and again stirred his granola. "Come, come, Miss Burke. You don't trust me?"

"Oh I trust you, I just don't believe you."

Garret chuckled and then took a bite of his granola.

Amy sniggered when a drop of milk lingered on his chin. She wiped it away. "What am I going to do with you?" she asked.

Garret gathered another spoonful of granola as he watched her face with the ever-recognizable smile of flirtatious possibilities. "I could offer a list of suggestions."

Amy laughed. "Eat your granola. I'll just watch you and enjoy my coffee."

Amy did watch him eat his granola, but as she talked about her life in Illinois and her dream fulfilled of studying drama at N.Y.U.. She relived anecdotes of rained-out monologue performances in the park, of midnight adventures performing various works on the sidewalk with her friends, and of less-than-popular plays performed at run-down performance halls that had been the best experiences of her life. She laughed over stories of impetuousness involving her brother, which had always resulted in a week's worth of grounding and extra chores, and of Christmas dinners and Thanksgiving lunches when her entire family would travel to reunions.

Garret listened to all with a continual, lopsided smile as he finished his granola and watched her varying expressions. Then he took up his coffee and listened more, chuckling here and there but offering neither comment nor question. Then he finished his coffee and stood, bringing his dirty dishes around and placing them in the sink as Amy told of her first experience of the subway, of getting lost when she tried to transfer, and of having to spend the night in a strange hotel because of it.

Then Garret stepped up to her, placed a hand on the counter on either side of her as she smiled up at him, and leaned in close while not saying a word.

"I wouldn't recommend kissing me," Amy said with a mischievous twinkle. "I've got granola in my teeth and coffee on my breath."

"A kiss can be placed in a multitude of areas with much the same affect," Garret said quietly.

Amy's smile faded, and she swallowed hard. "Yes, I suppose it can," she whispered.

Garret's lips twitched. Then he pulled back, taking her hands in his. "While I would very much enjoy the prospect, I believe I will do my best to behave this morning."

Amy released a deep breath. "Thank you." She gave his hands a couple of squeezes as the smile slowly returned. "You know what? I can totally see you and Vanessa as a couple. You and her probably did this same exact routine each morning. Except she probably sang love songs to you and you probably quoted monologues and sonnets to her."

Garret's smile faded to nothing as he stared down at their clasped hands. He cleared his throat. "Yes, well, in retrospect, Vanessa and my relationship was mainly physical. There was the initial romance and pursuit of course..." Garret turned Amy's hands over to stare down at the palms. The action seemed a little self-conscious. "I believe we both may have been a bit too eager to experience the other."

Amy softly smiled as she watched his inward examination of his past history with the women of his life. "Oh no," she said quietly. "I've given you a guilty conscience."

Garret reluctantly smiled as he met her gaze. "Our relationship is so very far removed from what my others have been, causing me to look back with a bit more intensity than I should. I suppose due to the fact ours is so much more... satisfying."

Amy's eyes crinkled at the corners. "That just earned you a bunch of brownie points, Mr. Harrison."

Garret laughed. "And what might I purchase with said 'brownie points', Miss Burke?"

"A poem left on your voice mail? A bunch of flowers delivered to a meeting?" Amy asked with a twinkle.

"What? No romantic evening of caresses?"

While Amy's cheeks did color a bit pinker than normal, she simply continued to smile. "Sorry. Not on the list. It will take a little more than a statement, lovely as it may have been, to get that."

Garret chuckled as he pulled her slightly closer to place a kiss on her cheek. "How came you to be so pure in a society such as ours, Miss Burke?" He stared down at her with a slight smile. "Don't you know that the truest display of affection is a trip to the bedroom?"

Amy's smile twitched. "And why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"

Garret raised an eyebrow.

Amy laughed. "Oh come on, surely you've heard the expression before?"

"I can safely assure you I haven't."

Amy chuckled with a shake of her head before again meeting his gaze. "You understand what it means, though, right?"

Garret's lips twitched. "I have a vague inkling."

"Well, Mr. Harrison, this jersey cow wants to be bought and paid for before releasing her milk to anyone, no matter how rich or charming or wonderful he may be." Amy smiled up into his amused expression for a little bit, but then her smile faded and her gaze drifted to the button on his royal blue Polo shirt. She released his hands to pick at it. "I'm a romantic. I always have been. And this romantic doesn't want to give up her virginity until she finds the right knight on his shining white steed."

Garret blinked, staring down at her in silence before taking her hands in his. "Amy, you are... You have never been with a man?"

Amy's lips were tickled with a smile as she slightly shook her head. "Nope. My own choice, too." She looked up, her smile widening when she saw the shocked expression in his eyes and on his face. "Yeah. I guess I should expect that reaction. You don't get that much around here I bet."

"Haven't you ever been in love?" he pressed.

Amy chuckled. "Of course I've been in love, Garret."

"Then why...?"

"Why not have sex with him?" Amy looked into each of Garret's eyes with that same continual smile. "Garret, sharing that part of myself with a man... that really means something. I don't want to give that to a man who isn't as devoted to me as I am to him."

"So you have never been in a long relationship?"

Amy's smile twitched. "I didn't say that. Just because we last more than 3, 6, or 12 months doesn't mean I should have an intimate relationship with him." Amy suddenly chuckled. "I'm sorry. I feel like I'm lecturing you."

Garret shook his head. "No, Amy. I want to understand. No one has ever thought that much of their future..."

Amy's eyes twinkled. "Husband?" Garret nodded and Amy continued. "I wouldn't say that. They just haven't been raised with the same view of a sexual relationship that I have. My parents are staunch Baptists, you know. While I'm not nearly as conservative as they are on relationships and what is and is not acceptable, I do draw the line at certain points. Sex being one of them."

Amy regarded his expression for a second. "Let me ask you a question. Think back to your reaction when I told you I'm a virgin. Now, imagine finding that out on your wedding night." Amy watched as he processed the information. He blinked, and Amy's smile widened. "See? Makes you feel pretty wonderful that she saved herself for you, huh?"

Garret intensely examined Amy’s face and eyes and expression before lowering his gaze to their clasped hands. He released them and took a step back from her.

Amy's smile faded. "Garret? What's the matter?"

Garret lifted his eyes to meet her concerned expression. His was guarded and serious. "Do you realize how many women I have been with?"

Amy shook her head. "No, and it doesn't matter."

"It doesn't matter?" he asked, incredulous. "Amy, how can that fact not matter?"

"It doesn't matter because that isn't who you are," she said simply. "That isn't why I enjoy spending time with you. That isn't why I care about you."


"Garret, do you really think I didn't already know you weren't a virgin? Abstinence is accepted, sure, but it isn't widely practiced. I know that." Amy gestured to the front door. "Renee isn't a virgin either. Does that make her not my friend? No. We just have different views on things. She thinks sex is part of the normal boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. I don't." Amy shrugged. "Who cares? I love her anyway."

Amy motioned to Garret standing across from her. "You've had sex with women throughout your career. It was a choice you were fine with. A choice that you still consider. Alright. It happens. I don't care about you any less."

"Our lovemaking won't be as special--"

"Garret, why even worry about it?" Amy asked, arms outstretched. "We're building a friendship and a relationship right now. We're not planning a wedding. We're getting to know each other. We're finding out what makes the other tick. We're seeing the good and the bad and dealing with it while asking ourselves if we want to take another step forward. I know about your past, and I don't care..."

Amy wrinkled her nose, lowering her arms to her sides. "Well, some things annoy me, but we'll deal with that little by little. I like you. I want to get to know you better, and I want to tell you all about me. I don't worry about how special our first night together will be because, you know what, if we do share a night together it will be after I've said 'I do'. To me, that will make the moment special."

Garret stared at Amy with a somewhat dazed and astonished expression.

Amy smiled and stepped up to him, taking his hands in hers to give them a squeeze. "Stop trying to be Executive Producer of your life, and just live it a day at a time."

Garret's facial expression relaxed into a slight smile that warmed his eyes. He released her hands and cupped her face. "The attraction I feel for you, sweet muse, will surely drive me mad."

Amy's eyes crinkled at the corners. "Just don't kiss me. I'm telling you I've got bad coffee breath."

Garret chuckled. "What do I care of that?" he whispered as his lips lightly touched hers. "So do I."

"Just warning you," she sighed. Amy pressed one, two, three more gentle kisses against his lips before pulling his hands from her face and holding his gaze. "So... Are you alright?"

Garret's lips twitched. "A trifle dazed, but yes. I believe I will survive."

Amy smiled. "Don't you worry about this anymore either. If you do, talk to me about it. Okay? I'm serious."

He brushed a lock of her long hair behind her ear as his eyes traveled her entire face, his lips lifted in a smile. "Banish the worry with another taste of your honey, sweet muse."

Amy chuckled and then touched each side of his lips with hers before placing a slightly more intense one on his mouth. Then she forced herself to pull back, clearly feeling his resistance. Amy cleared her throat. "I'm sorry, Garret. I shouldn't have kissed you like that. It feels way to good, and we both know it leads to something more."

Garret cleared his throat as well, lowering his hands and arms from her as he gave a slight nod. "Yes," he said simply, and his voice sounded different.

Amy looked down at her watch. "I think we have about 45 minutes before Vanessa and Mark get here." She looked up again and motioned over her shoulder to the door. "Let's go take a walk. I think the cold air would do us a lot of good."

Garret nodded again. "Yes, I believe it would."

They gathered their coats and purses and keys and made their way from the apartment.  Amy locked the door behind them and then faced Garret to give him a smile as she tucked her keys in the pocket of her coat.  They headed toward the elevator.  Once inside, Amy noticed that Garret stood carefully away from her.

Amy smiled.  “It is a little cozy in here, isn’t it?”

Garret’s eyes met her gaze.  He reluctantly smiled.  “Much as the knowledge will shock, I have an... intimate knowledge of what is and is not plausible to accomplish within a lift.”

Amy’s jaw dropped.  “Garret Harrison,” she breathed.

Garret cleared his throat and clenched his hands behind his back.  “Be careful, Amy.  I may take your expression of disbelief as a dare to prove what I say.”

Amy shook her head.  “Please don’t.  I just can’t believe... in the elevator?  What about the other people in the building?  What if they’d stopped it?”

Garret lightly rubbed at his temple.  “Such was the... attraction of the...”  He cleared his throat.

Amy blinked, eyes still wide.  “Garret Harrison,” she breathed again.

Garret laughed as he looked over at her.  “Do not judge me so harshly, Miss Burke.  Perhaps one day I will have my way with you in a lift?”

Amy’s eyes crinkled as she smiled.  “Don’t be so sure you won’t be the one shocked, Mr. Harrison.”

Garret laughed again, taking a step toward her just as the elevator dinged and opened its doors.  “Saved by the bell,” he whispered.

Amy’s lips twitched before she turned and exited.  Garret fell into step beside her as they made their way toward the front exit.  “If Executive Producer Harrison finds out about us, we’re going to get into a lot of trouble.  You know about his ‘no fraternizing’ rule, right?”

Garret chuckled.  “I had heard some mention of it.”

“Maybe we should confess and take our punishment?”

“Perhaps he will revoke the rule?”

Amy looked over at Garret with a bright smile as they exited her apartment building and turned left toward the park.  “You think he would?”

“I doubt the rule referred to him in the first place.”

Amy laughed.  Then she put on a serious if reproachful expression.  “Well that isn’t very fair.  We should talk to him about that.”

“I will make an appointment as soon as rehearsal is finished.”

“Really?” Amy asked as she turned twinkling eyes to meet his gaze.  “You’d risk his wrath for me?”

Especially for you.”

“How sweet.”  Amy wrapped an arm around Garret’s as she changed her gaze to the sidewalk at their feet.  “Joking aside, Garret...”  She released a deep breath.  “I can’t believe this is happening.  It seems like we’ve known each other forever.”

“Yes, it does.”  His voice was soft and thoughtful.

Amy remained silent for a moment, thinking of all that Renee had said so many days before.  “Garret, you know that I’m not looking for a ring, right?”

Garret remained quiet.

Amy looked over at him.  He watched her.  Amy reluctantly smiled.  “Kind of an odd statement for me to say, huh?”  She looked away again.  “I’m not saying I wouldn’t be thrilled if you offered, I’m just...”  Amy grimaced.  “Geez.  It’s Renee’s fault.  She said that you’d take off the minute I got clingy, or the rehearsals ended.  She said you like your women ‘disposable’, and like an idiot I’ve started to let that bother me.”  Amy shook her head.  “Gossip.  I hate it.”

“Amy,” Garret said softly, “Vanessa broke off our relationship when I proposed.”

Amy looked up sharply, halting their progress to the crosswalk that led to the park.  “What?”

He held Amy’s amazed gaze.  “I asked Vanessa to marry me.  I fancied myself in love with her, believing she felt the same.  I did not realize she had been seeing Mark Frasier during our relationship.  When I proposed, she looked quite taken aback.  Shocked, for lack of a better word.  She explained that she wasn’t ready for marriage, apologized that I had believed otherwise, and said she felt it would be wise if we didn’t see one another once the play finished.  After our finale performance, I didn’t.”

Amy blinked up at Garret in stunned silence for several seconds before smiling.  “Do you have any idea how wonderful that makes me feel?”

Garret raised an eyebrow.  “Wonderful?”

Amy giggled and stepped into the folds of his wool coat to give him a firm embrace.  “You believe in marriage.”

Garret chuckled.  “And that is the first time I have heard you sound such a charming laugh.”  He returned her embrace before pushing back and caressing some hair from her face.  “Come, come.  Surely you didn’t believe me to be such a rogue as to not wish to marry one day.”

Amy gave a one-shoulder shrug.  “It happens.”

Garret smiled with a slight nod.  “Yes.  I suppose it does.  I should also admit that many of the ladies I have wooed have hoped for a ring only to receive a letter and a bushel of flowers bidding them adieu.  Unfortunately, they were relief from the boredom.”

Garret stared down into Amy’s quietly smiling face, brushing yet more hair from her cheeks and forehead.  Then he caressed her lips with his thumb.  “Yes, Amy.  I believe in marriage.  And, yes, I know you are not hunting me for a ring.  You simply desire a discovery of Garret Harrison.”  He shook his head and kissed her cheek.  “Continue the search,” he whispered, “lest I be lost.”


Knock Knock

Amy looked at her watch and then sent Garret a smile.  “Finally.  Only 30 minutes late.”  She stood and moved toward the front door.  “You’ll have to be leaving soon, right?”

“Unfortunately I only have until ten.”

“I guess that gives us enough time to run through the ‘Cloud’s Sin’ scene.  We might be able to run through the ‘Aeris’ Wood’ scene, too.  If that’s alright?”  Amy opened the door with a smile at Vanessa and Mark.  “Hey you guys.  I expected you earlier.”

“Sorry,” Mark grumbled as he entered the apartment.  “Traffic.”

Vanessa followed.  “I could use some tea, Amy,” she said.

“Sure.”  And Amy headed for the kitchenette.

Mark and Vanessa looked from Amy to the couch and stared.

Garret raised his gaze from a scrutiny of his script and gave each a nod and a slight smile.  “Mark.  Vanessa.  Good morning.”

Mark didn’t say anything.  He only frowned.  Vanessa, however, moved forward to offer Garret a welcoming smile as she sat beside him.  “Good morning, Garret.  What a pleasant surprise.  How are you?”

Garret’s expression didn’t change from the slight smile of before.  “Very well thank you, Vanessa.”

Amy set the water to boil for the tea, noticing with a raised eyebrow that he didn’t ask how Vanessa was doing.

Vanessa took it in stride.  “I hope all is going smoothly regarding filming schedules.”

“There haven’t been any unalterable mishaps, no.”

Mark moved toward the couch to sit on the far end.  He still didn’t say anything.

“Mark?” Amy asked from the kitchen.  “Did you want a soda or something?”


Amy raised an eyebrow. Then she grimaced.  This is ridiculous.  She came around and sat on one of the bench stools, resting her feet on the bottom rungs as she leaned back against the counter.  Amy met Garret’s gaze and sent him as meaningful an expression as she could manage.  One that she hoped clearly said, ‘you’re not being very helpful to the situation’.

Garret lowered his gaze to the script.  Amy briefly frowned.  Fine.  I’ll do it myself.  “Vanessa, Mr. Harrison and I were talking the other day about you and Mark’s roles in the movie.”

Vanessa, Mark, and Garret all looked over at her.  Garret raised an eyebrow.  Vanessa looked surprised.  Mark looked suspicious.

“Oh?” Vanessa asked.

Amy looked over at Garret.  “Mr. Harrison?  Did you want to tell her what you said?  I wouldn’t want to put words in your mouth.”

One side of Garret’s lips twitched upward as Vanessa looked over at him.  Garret met her gaze.  “Miss Burke had mentioned that she enjoyed the opportunity to rehearse with you the other day, telling me also that she was glad you had been chosen to play ‘Tifa Lockhart’.  I made the comment that I had specifically chosen you for the role due to your ability to bring out the intensity and depth of the character, which was so often overlooked by those others that auditioned.”  Garret gauged Vanessa’s slightly startled expression.  “Has there been confusion as to why I suggested you for the role?”

Vanessa recovered quickly enough, sending Garret a reassuring smile.  “No, of course not.”

Amy rolled her eyes.  Garret caught the expression.  “Are you certain, Vanessa?  I don’t wish for you to believe I cast you for any reason other than your exceptional talent.”

At that, Vanessa seemed to get a little flustered and self-consciously said “Of course I wouldn’t, Garret.”

Mark noticed her discomfiture, and Amy could see his hackles rise.  She sent Garret a meaningful look, sending her gaze quickly to the back of Mark’s head.

Garret looked to Mark.  “Mark, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had doubts as to my reasons for casting you.  We haven’t ever been anything but pleasant enemies, have we?”

Amy gnawed her lower lip, sending an expression of ‘be careful’ to Garret.  He intercepted it smoothly enough.

“I have never sought to be subtle regarding my belief that you’re a pompous ass, but that has nothing to do with your position as ‘Cloud Strife’.  You’ve an exceptional talent when it comes to action films, Mark,” Garret said as he set aside his script, “and that is what I wanted for this movie.  That and you have a previous – or perhaps continuing – relationship with Vanessa that will add to the chemistry felt on stage.  Or rather on screen.”  Garret looked up.  “There is also the fact that I don’t like you.  That chemistry is also important for this movie, making it easier for your character to be believed in his obsessive hatred of Sephiroth.”

“And why should we believe you?” Mark asked darkly.

Garret clenched his jaw.  “You can believe or disbelieve what I have said, Mark.  It matters little to me.  I have simply set the record straight.  Now, I have limited time before I must be off to a meeting scheduled at ten.  Miss Burke had hoped to rehearse certain scenes, if you are up to the task?”

Amy sent Garret a ‘don’t be a jerk’ expression as she stood from the barstool to rescue the boiling water from the stove.

“I apologize.” Amy heard Garret say.  “That last quip was uncalled for.”

Mark’s only response was silence.

“Garret?  Did you want some tea?”  Amy grimaced.  Crap!  I just called… oh well.

Silence.  “Yes, please.”

Amy brought down a second cup and saucer, all the while shaking her head and scolding herself for making a big deal about it.  If Mark or Vanessa noticed, they noticed.  “Give me a couple minutes, you guys, and I’ll be out.  If someone knows the cue line, they could start.”


Then Mark muttered “why the hell not?” and spoke the opening line of the scene.  “‘That’s the Black Materia…’”


Garret left a little before ten in order to make it to his meeting at a restaurant a little ways down the street.  Amy escorted him to the door with a pleasant “Thank you for coming, Mr. Harrison.  Have a nice meeting.”

To which he responded “Thank you, Miss Burke.  Good day.”

Then, when Amy went back into the living room, she noticed that Garret had left his wool jacket on the back of the couch.  So, Amy had to hurry after him.  She caught him by the elevator doors, holding out his wool coat with a smile that accused him of doing it on purpose.  Garret drew her and the wool coat into the elevator with him just as the doors closed.

He pulled her close, wrapping her up in the wool coat so that she couldn’t escape as he looked down into her face.  Garret slightly smiled.  “You were superb.  In the scene as well as in so adeptly showing the personal conflict Mark and Vanessa had with their roles.  Thank you.”

Amy smiled.  “I thought you would want to know.”

Garret glanced up at the floor indicator for the elevator.  “Hmm.  Not nearly enough time.  Ah well.”  He looked back down to her, and his smile twitched upward.  “Bestow upon me a touch of your warmth, sweet muse, that I might remember your presence here so close and tender.”

“Take what you will, poet mine, that you might never feel the chill of my absence.”

Garret pressed his lips gently against hers… again… and again… and then again before lifting his head and caressing her cheeks and eyes with his lips.  “Amy, Amy, Amy…” he whispered as he pressed his lips against her throat.  “Never cease captivating my mind and heart.  Never cease being true to that self I find so intoxicatingly unique.”

Amy pressed her lips against his soft and warm skin, squeezing her eyes shut tight in an effort to hold back the tears.  “I promise.”

Garret pulled back, sent a quick glance to the floor indicator, and then kissed her again.  “Until our dreams,” he whispered in a rough voice as he stepped back.

Amy nodded slowly as she watched him shrug into his wool coat.  Then the elevator doors were opening and he stepped toward the exit.  “I love you, sweet muse,” Garret whispered as he passed.

Amy blinked after him, the elevator doors closing off any response.  She leaned back against the elevator wall with a deep breath.

When Amy arrived back at her apartment, Mark and Vanessa were talking intensely amongst themselves.  They looked up at her entrance.  She smiled and motioned over her shoulder.  “He had already made it to the elevator.  I had to go down.”

Mark stood, and his frown clearly showed he was upset.  “Why’d you tell him what we told you, Amy?  Geez!”

Amy blinked.  “I didn’t.  I simply asked him why he cast you as ‘Cloud’.”  Amy looked to Vanessa.  “I didn’t even ask him about you.  He volunteered it, and that was before I asked about Mark.”

Vanessa changed her gaze to her hands, which were tinkering with the hem of her dark rose blouse.

Amy looked to each of their faces.  “You don’t believe him, do you?”

“And you do?”  Mark scoffed.  “I knew he was a good actor, but he--”  Mark swore.

“That was uncalled for,” Amy said as she arched an eyebrow and crossed her arms.  “I’m a lot of things, Mark, but I’m definitely not gullible.  I’ve seen and experienced my fair share of smooth-talkers, liars, and con-men.”  Mark opened his mouth for a retort, but Amy interrupted with a firm statement of “Don’t even go there.  I have both feet firmly planted on the ground, thank you very much, and he hasn’t been in my pants, skirts, shorts, or sheets.”

Vanessa raised her gaze from her hands.  “Amy, are you sure he hasn’t manipulated you?”

Amy bit back a retort of ‘Like you did him?’ and said “I’m not sure of anything, Vanessa, but you said I was more than welcome to give him the benefit of the doubt.  So, I am.  And I don’t think it’s asking too much for you to do the same thing.”

Vanessa looked over at Mark.  “Mark?”

Mark threw up his hands with a “what the hell.”

Amy smiled.


Chapter 10

Final Fantasy 6 Fanfic