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Kermie's Girl (ushy-gushy fanfic)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Ruahnna, Apr 21, 2006.

  1. ReneeLouvier

    ReneeLouvier Well-Known Member

    Lovely latest chapter Ru! Can't wait it read more Hun!
     
    Ruahnna likes this.
  2. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    ------------

    This is GENIUS. Brava, yet again!

    Lines I particularly like: "Time's fun when you're having flies," the whole "in the first place" bit, the "almost-out-of-patience look" Kermit has often given that certain furry blue monster --

    :super: And I am CUTE, too!


    ...right. That one. Also: "the (arguably) weaker sex" (how Newsie managed to avoid that left hook is testament to how fast he can move out of the way of internal theatrical disputes while still absorbing everything newsworthy, IMHO); "Marty muttered a non-Sesame-Stree word"; Scoop asking Fleet whether he was going to allow people to draw their own conclusions (VERY nice bit of conscience-needling there!); Scribbler feeling "reckless and sick and full of rage"; Clifford and Tricia finally "called the thing for what it was" (excellent!); #BOOTYFROG (LMAO at that one); "Other children and ideas are often born out of this sort of mood." (While I neither have nor wish experience in the kid dept., I can attest heartily to the buoyancy of a succesful creation spawning more!)

    And so the ruckus begins! Wondering how the frog Fleet thinks he'll be able to wriggle out of consignment to Unwanted Paparazzi Hades after all that. Wondering if Piggy and Kermit can withstand the strain all the bad press will place upon them...

    :news: Ahem. It's Ru's story, right?

    ....yes?

    :news: And you feel the need to even ASK? Of COURSE they'll come out all right!

    You're right. Silly me. :)
    -------------
     
    Ruahnna and The Count like this.
  3. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    ------------
    And a quick double-post. (Hey. I don't get here often. Sue me.)

    Whew! You went in a COMPLETELY different direction than I expected with the tender (and unexpectedly funny) phone call between K&P. Maybe it's a good thing the reality-goldigger is infamous enough that Piggy could so easily envision exactly how far "up in his gills" the woman became!

    And Fleet's giving away his telling photo of what REALLY went wrong backstage? Good for him! Of course, since he'll never be able to take credit for discrediting himself, he's still lunch meat...

    Big Mean Carl: Did someone say LUNCH??

    *points toward skulking greasy-mopped tabloid hack* Thataway.

    BMC: Thank you!

    Curious how the rest of this will play out, even with the personal issue happily defused!

    -----------------
     
    miss kermie, The Count and Ruahnna like this.
  4. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Chapter 146: What the Pig Heard

    While there were advantages to being green when it came to blending, Kermit was more than a little thankful that he had learned the knack of not blending when it was important. He was not three steps out of the curtains before he could feel that he had every eye in the reporter queue on him. Almost to an animal, they watched him with predatory eyes, watchful less he make a break for it.
    But Kermit did not break for it. He walked, calmly and amiably, into their midst and smiled up at them. To all appearances, he was calm, cool—almost smug—and there was no stink of fear on him. Not for the first time, Kermit was glad to be an amphibian.
    “Um, hi ho, fellas,” he said. A couple of sharply-dressed women peered around their fellows, and Kermit smiled at them particularly. “Um, sorry—ladies, too. Someone said you might want to talk to me about our new movie…?”
    Before the sentence had left his lips, the rank and file of journalists had closed rank behind him, sealing him off from the outside world, and Kermit had that split-second of claustrophobia that being in a crowded room sometimes gave him.
    “Mr. The Frog, is it true—“
    “Kermit, did you deliberately send Miss Piggy away so that—“
    “Does your famous wife know that you appeared here with your—“
    “In light of Piggy’s consultation with a divorce attorney this morning—“
    He had braced for it, but the wall of sound coming at him nevertheless made him take a step backward. His face registered surprise and alarm, true, but bafflement was the foremost emotion on display.
    “I’m sorry,” he said, urbane, polite, bewildered. “I’m not able to hear you when you all talk at once.” The pack stirred restlessly, not sure how to react to prey that did not show a propensity to run. Finally, a young man with a granite chin and an impressive brow stepped forward and shoved his microphone into Kermit’s face.
    “Mr. The Frog,” he said sternly. “How would you characterize your encounter with Ms. Kardashian earlier this evening?”
    Kermit, like Piggy, had mastered the art of conveying surprise without the use of eyebrows. (Overrated things, he’d always thought).
    “Oh. Um, well, I guess I’d say that it was a pleasure to meet Karen today. She seems like a very nice girl, and I’m always glad to see someone so interested in children’s tele—what?” He tried to register all the voices talking at once, and shook his head. “What? Oh—it’s not Karen? I’m sorry. I thought she said…oh. How embarrassing. Sorry.” He smiled, looking abashed. “I guess I was a little distracted by the thought of seeing Piggy, um, I mean, Miss Piggy, my, um, wife. We were supposed to talk before the um—what?”
    “What did Miss Piggy say about your meeting?” interrupted one of the women, her face fiercely combative.
    “Oh, Piggy said everything’s going great in New York,” Kermit said. He smiled. “She said the show is going swell! She’s, um, getting great reviews playing Betty Rizzo.” He looked up, flashing his pollywog eyes shamelessly. “You, um, you guys knew she was on Broadway, right? I mean, everybody knows that, I think….” He beamed with pride.
    “Yes, and while Miss Piggy is on Broadway, are you taking that opportunity to—“
    Yes,” said Kermit firmly, not letting the man finish. “I am absolutely taking advantage of the bachelor life to work, er, about sixty-five, ahem, or more hours a week on getting our new movie ready for a Summer release.” He coughed and looked embarrassed. “Um, Piggy never lets me work like that when she’s home—she likes me to be home with, um, her.”
    “Haven’t you seen Fleet Scribbler’s article on his newspaper’s website?” one of the younger, less hardened journalists asked incredulously.
    Kermit looked embarrassed, but agreeable. “Um, I’m really not that good at using the internet,” he said apologetically. “Scooter usually does that sort of thing for me, but I’m learning how to use my new phone.” He held it up, gingerly, between his thumb and one finger, as though it were some exotic species never seen before. “Piggy got it for me for Christmas,” he explained. “It, um, plays music and everything, but sometimes I can’t remember how to do that.”
    “Don’t you even know—“
    “Oh, I’m afraid I’m pretty old-fashioned,” Kermit said, cutting the reporter down with surgical precision. “I’m lucky, though. Piggy keeps me up-to-date. She’s wonderful at all that stuff.” He smiled, his guileless expression hiding a veritable ton of guile.
    “What were you doing earlier with your arm around Ms. Kardashian’s, um, dress?” demanded yet another reporter.
    Kermit looked uncomfortable for the first time. “Oh!” he said, then, “Oh—that.”
    “Yes, that—“
    “Yeah, what were you cozying up to her—“
    Cozying?” Kermit said, horrified. “I wasn’t cozying— The, um, arm around her, um….” As one, they leaned forward, ready to pounce at the first sign of blood in the water, waiting for his next words breathlessly.
    “Oh, ha ha—that! Well, um, that, er....what happened there was really Piggy’s fault.” He smiled up at them, not at all put off by the fact that they had—to a person—stopped breathing.
    “Miss Piggy’s fault—?!“ began an outraged journalist.
    “How dare you try to—“ said one woman in a strangled voice.
    “Um, yeah,” Kermit persisted. “That never would have happened if Piggy hadn’t—“
    Kermit seemed unaware that he was in imminent danger from the coven of irate journalists, but his next words stopped them dead in their tracks.
    “—bought me these beautiful cufflinks,” he said.
    Several reporters blinked, a couple of them swore, and one of the women advanced a rude opinion about males in general and frogs in particular.
    What are you--?”
    “If you expect me to believe—“
    “Are you trying to tell me—?”
    “For the love of news, just spit it—?”
    “Cufflinks?”
    Cufflinks?”
    “Whatdya mean, cufflinks?”
    Kermit thrust his arms forward as though waiting for handcuffs to be slapped on his slender wrists, and the little amethyst dragonflies glittered on his cuffs.
    “Piggy had them made for me,” he said. “Aren’t they gorgeous?”
    Dumbfounded, they stared down at the frog’s hands, at the sparkling jewels in the shape of one of Kermit’s favorite snack foods.
    “Piggy gave you—“
    “But what does—“
    “For the love of Edward R. Murrow, what do cufflinks have to do with you putting your arm around Ms. Kardashian?” bellowed one gentleman.
    Kermit seemed startled by the man’s vehemence, and blanched back a little. “Oh—I didn’t have my arm around Karen, uh, Ms. Kardashian. My cufflink was caught on her dress.”
    “On her dress?”
    “Are you funning me?”
    “Do you think we’re…on her dress?”
    “Um hum,” Kermit said. He pointed to the little platinum antenna, stroking it gently with a finger. “This caught on the little beady things on her, um, dress. Who’d have thought, huh?”
    “Oh for goodness sake!” one woman journalist heaved.
    “I don’t believe it!” another groaned.
    I believe it,” said one reporter, younger and more optimistic about human (and amphibian) nature. “I told you guys this wasn’t what it looked like.”
    “What it looked like?” Kermit said. His expressive face sequenced through puzzlement, dawning comprehension and—finally—blushing mortification. “Oh. Oh! You mean you thought…oh no. No no no. I wouldn’t….” For the first time, Kermit looked genuinely distressed. “I mean, the only woman I want to, um, cozy up to is Piggy. She’s the one for me.”
    “But Miss Piggy isn’t here,” said a grim-faced reporter whose disapproving countenance reminded Kermit of Sam the Eagle.
    For the first time since he’d come out from behind the curtain, Kermit let his real feelings bleed through to the surface. His voice became husky, and his eyes became suspiciously bright. He looked away and tried a brave smile, which came out rather tremulous instead.
    “I know,” he said quietly. “You don’t have to tell me.”
    You know, it’s hard being a tough reporter. You often have to plow into unpleasantness or danger and your sudden appearance on the scene is rarely welcomed by the object of your report, or the denizens of law enforcement. It is, in many respects, a thankless job, and those without thick skins usually don’t last. Even the thickest-skinned among this group—while still suspicious—was feeling just a tad mean and insensitive. Regardless of whether you liked the frog or not—or whether you thought the frog deserved the pig or vice versa—Kermit was a likable guy. He was modest, he was self-effacing, he was funny. It didn’t help that he looked little and defenseless among all those tuxedo-clad knees and without his pig by his side. Although there was still some irate feeling fueled by the impression that they were missing something significant, and the feeding frenzy that usually erupts when there is blood in the water—or scandal on the red carpet—more than half the pack no longer had the stomach for the hunt.
    Still, one didn’t have to be a heel to get a good story. Half a column is better than none….
    One of the veterans stepped forward, determined to get his class half full. “So, um, tell us about the movie. You’re editing now. Summer release, you say?”


    Sara leaned against Scooter’s back and slipped her arms around his waist from their vantage point backstage.
    “Just look at him go,” said Sara. Scooter nodded, folding his hands over hers.
    “When I grow up, I want to be just…like…him,” said Scooter. He could not think why on earth he’d ever thought Kermit needed his help in dealing with the media. The technology, yes—but the press…. He’d forgotten how amazing savvy Kermit was about people, how he could bring out even his enemies best impulses if given a chance. He was getting that chance now, and the press was practically eating candied gnats out of his hands.
    “What makes you think you’re going to grow up?” Sara teased near his ear. One of her soft hands teased his hair, stopping just short of a tousle.
    “Sara--!”


    Kermit seemed to rouse reluctantly from his sad reverie, but at the mention of the movie, he brightened. “Um, yeah,” he said. “It was supposed to be a Fall release, but we moved it up to Summer.” His smile grew a little less tentative.
    “And is the movie on target? We heard there was some trouble with the film….”
    “Trouble?” Kermit said, wide-eyed. “Well, we’re having a hard time getting it down under two hours,” he admitted, “because there’s so much good stuff. There’s this dance scene—“
    Oh yes. The dance scene. Everybody had heard about the infamous dance scene. Even those reporters nursing a grudge found their ears perking up and leaned in toward him.
    "—that’s really…well, it’s really something. Janice and Piggy and Camilla are under cover masquerading as—“
    “I heard something about having to add a few more beads to the costumes in order to meet the industry rating standards…?”
    Kermit blushed and one slim hand went to the back of his neck.
    “Um, no,” he said, face flaming. “It wasn’t because of the rating….” He looked up at last to find all of the reporters looking at him with polite disbelief on their faces, and more than one of them had a faintly lascivious look in his eyes or a faint smirk on their lips. Kermit thought he’d like to punch them—all—in the kisser, but he managed to keep his fist from clenching. “At least, it never got that far,” he said. “We, um, got the costuming thing covered, and reshot the scenes in the club. But that’s…that’s a good scene…yeah. And there’s some great stuff when they storm the island—“
    Once again, rapid-fire questions were coming at Kermit, some of them about the movie plot, more than a few about the costumes and a few touching on his relationship with Piggy. One of the women asked him bluntly if he planned any movies in the future starring anyone other than Miss Piggy but he shut that down with a little show of temper that seemed to raise him in the esteem of the others.
    “Are you kidding? Why would I? When you have a big star like Piggy to work with, you don’t take her for granted!” Kermit snapped. “You thank goodness every day to be working with an actress of that caliber!”
    There was a murmur of ascent, with a little bit of descent mixed in.
    “Um, I heard Miss Piggy could be sort of…demanding?” one journalist ventured.
    Kermit looked at the man in disbelief, and there was a moment—a moment—when no one was precisely sure which way this interview was going to end, but then—as though in spite of himself—Kermit’s mouth began to twitch. He grimaced, put a hand up to stop any comment and tried to master himself, but it was no use. His face broke out into a wide smile, and they could feel his blush from a foot away. He looked away, up, anywhere but into anyone’s eyes, his face bursting into a wry grin.
    “Um, yeah,” he said shortly. “You could say that.”
    And when they all laughed, Kermit—finally—joined them.


    *****

    Seymour sat in his luxury suite and brooded over the news coverage. He felt like he was missing something—something important. Surely, he thought to himself, Piggy can’t remain in this sham of a marriage now. Surely she realized that it was time to move gracefully on, into the comfort and protection of his arms….
    He puzzled over Scribbler’s latest article yet again, wondering about the journalist’s role in all of this. The other day, in the heat of the moment, he hadn’t recognized his assailant—he’d been too surprised at being challenged. Later, on reflection, Fleet’s distinctive mop of silver hair and purple-hued skin had left little doubt about his identity. An online search for pictures had proven him correct and he’d glared at the reporter’s smirking picture above…dozens, hundreds of bylines. The little twerp had certainly written a lot of stellar news pieces about Piggy, and Seymour resented him even as he hungrily devoured all of the articles he could find. They’d apparently been close—no one wrote this much and this brilliantly and with this level of access unless there was something cozy going on. Seymour checked the timeline more than once. The stories began before Kermit and Piggy tied the knot, but covered everything from her pre-Muppet Show days to the show, to the movies, to that cursed frog
    But he hadn’t known about that the other day. Stunned by the untimely arrival of Piggy’s defender, furious about the failure of his plans, he’d done little more than escape with his identity still hidden—and more than a few dents and scratches—and had had to do his homework later. Now that he had, the question remained: What was Scribbler up to? He looked at the article again, grimacing. It didn’t actually say that Kermit was dating that Kardashian chick, but it sure as heck implied it. He looked at Kermit’s expression, imagining the tuxedo-clad amphibian flattened on a road somewhere, and something niggled the back of his brain. That look…that look…hmm. Readers were supposed to look at this picture and see a frog and his girl caught gazing at each other, all glittered up for the awards show. But the more he looked at the picture, the more he thought there was something…off about Kermit’s expression, something…familiar.
    Forget the frog, his mind prompted. That’s the past. You’re the future. Figure what comes next so you can get on with happily ever after. No sense getting irritated…ah. Ah. Seymour inhaled sharply and looked at the picture again, nodding to himself. Kermit wasn’t looking up at that voluptuous woman with the half-exasperated affection he reserved for his—for Piggy—he was looking up at her the same way he had once looked at Seymour, with politely-veiled irritation and disdain. Once, when he had chosen to step out of the shadows backstage, when Kermit and Piggy had been dancing, then kissing, then…well, he’d stepped out, as much to stop them at their play as to announce his own presence and had seen that look—that exact look—in Kermit’s eyes. He sat back, thoughtful and unquiet. So Kermit wasn’t making up to the well-endowed brunette. He wasn’t stepping out on his pig. He wasn’t happy to either be or look like a playboy while Piggy was taking Broadway by storm. And if the frog wasn’t happy…chances are the pig wasn’t either.
    He was silent for a moment, thinking hard. Was there any way he could use that information? If Piggy were miserable and lonely, she might welcome a familiar face, especially one that was associated with better times. Hmmm. She had invited him to come and see her show. Tickets were outrageously expensive and impossible to get, but he knew a guy….
    Seymour began to hum, a happy, numbing sound, and started making new plans.


    Piggy was humming, drifting around the tiny apartment without any clear intention. Her face was suffused with tenderness, erasing all but the faintest trace of tears on her porcelain skin. Talking to Kermit had undone hours and hours of worry, and while she did not look forward to the morning papers, it wasn’t morning yet. No sense borrowing trouble.
    She got the coffee pot ready for the next day, beaming at the thought of how domestic she had become. She made coffee every dayby herself! She had even mastered toasting a bagel to perfection in the toaster and while she thought about it, she took the bagels out of the fridge and put them in front of the toaster. There was nothing left to do in the kitchen, and she padded down the hall toward the bedroom. She was thinking of Kermit, her dear sweet unworldly frog, and there was a momentary flash of indignation and rage that that…woman would try to move in on her fella, but Kermit hadn’t fallen for it, and that was what mattered. Piggy smiled to herself. She’d had a hard time making him fall for it the first time, and it had taken her less than two weeks of hanky-dropping and eyelash-batting and hip-wiggling to realize that those things weren’t going to do more than make him give her a furtive look and a wide berth. Kermit had noticed her, yes, but he hadn’t become really interested in her until he saw her perform.
    Although he was usually modest and self-effacing, Kermit had a lot of talent. He could sing, he could act, he could play a variety of instruments. She remembered the first time she’d heard him play the banjo, the way his fingers danced over the strings. She remembered sitting with him in his beloved swamp, listening to the music he made underneath a blanket of stars. Speaking of blankets….
    Piggy yawned. She was tired—no, she was exhausted. It had been years, at least, since she’d slept in her own bed, and she needed to be rested and beyond beautiful tomorrow for Thoreau’s big show. Remembering Kristen’s earlier remark, Piggy smiled. She opened the door of her bedroom…
    …and let out a cry of joy. The larger of the two boxes from Kermit sat on the end of her bed. Howard and Thoreau must have left it when they collected her unmentionables earlier today. In all the bustle and fuss of the last 40 hours, she hadn’t even thought about it, but—oh! She rushed across the room and snatched the soft cotton shirt from the tissue paper, holding it against her cheek. It smelled faintly of starch and laundry detergent, but mostly of Kermit, and the sweet, swampy scent made Piggy sigh. She rubbed the shirt against her cheek, then buried her face in it, loving this visceral reminder of the frog she loved and the home they’d made together. She missed him. She missed snuggling into his arms in their big bed, missed his absent-minded table conversation in the morning, missed his good-natured kvetching about her stockings drying over the shower rod and the charges on their credit cards. But, even as a pang of loneliness pierced her, Piggy realized he misses me, too! She thought she could endure anything as long as she knew that.
    Piggy slipped out of her robe and slid beneath the cool covers, turning onto her side and pressing her snout against Kermit’s t-shirt. She reached over and turned out the light. In the darkness, she sighed. And sniffled. And drifted off to sleep.


    Tired as he was, Kermit had one more phone call to make. He hated to call this late, but he had learned his lesson earlier, and did not want anything else to creep up on him because he had hesitated or put off a difficult task. He hit the “Send” button.
    Thoreau answered on the second ring.
    “You’ve got some nerve,” said the designer. “What do you think you were doing—?”
    “It wasn’t what it looked like,” Kermit said, interrupting Thoreau’s tirade. “Frog scout’s honor. And I’ve already squared it with Piggy.”
    “What did she say?” Thoreau demanded suspiciously.
    “I explained what happened.” Briefly, Kermit outlined what had actually happened, reluctantly explaining what the media had made of it, and moved swiftly on to his apology and explanation to Piggy.
    “So she knows it wasn’t…that I didn’t….” Kermit trailed off, one slim green hand over his closed eyes while he spoke into the phone. “She’s forgiven me,” he said quietly, and any comment Thoreau might have made died instantly on his tongue. In all the time that Thoreau had known Piggy, Kermit had never apologized lightly or often. If he had done it, and was now admitting it, it was a big deal.
    “I see,” said Thoreau, and waited.
    “But…but now I need your help,” Kermit said.
    Again, Thoreau waited. Kermit heard Howard say, “Is that Kermit? What’s he saying about—“ and then cut off abruptly.
    “It’s about the dress.”
    “Whose dress? Piggy’s dress?”
    “What about Piggy’s dress?” Howard's voice said in the background. Kermit looked at his watch. He’d expected to catch Thoreau alone in his hotel room. What was Howard doing there at this hour?
    “No. Not Piggy’s dress—her dress. The, um, other—“
    “Right, right,” said Thoreau. “What about it?”
    As succinctly as possible, Kermit explained.
    “You did WHAT?!!!” Thoreau growled, his blood boiling. “You promised I would make something for that—that—“
    “It was the only way,” Kermit said. His ego had taken quite a beating today, and he was not sure he had it in him to beg, but he tried. “Please…I had to. I’ll pay anything—“
    “Not everything is for sale!” Thoreau snapped, expecting Kermit to fire back at him, but the beleaguered amphibian did not.
    “I know that,” Kermit said tiredly. “I just…I didn’t know what else to do. Piggy was waiting for me, counting on me to….” He fell silent.
    Thoreau counted to ten, then ten again, then took a deep, calming breath. “Fine,” he growled through gritted teeth. “I’ll do it, but only because—“
    “That’s not all,” Kermit said, and for a moment, he was deeply afraid that Piggy’s friend had hung up on him.
    “Tell me,” Thoreau said. He pinched the bridge of his nose. “How much worse could it be?”
    “I…I didn’t tell her about the dress,” Kermit said quietly. “I think it might be better…coming from…you.”
    “You expect me—“
    “No. No—I don’t expect anything. I’m asking. You can tell me to shove off and I will never, I promise never bring it up again, but I am asking you, for Piggy’s sake, to—“
    “Oh for goodness sake,” Thoreau cried. “Stop groveling. I’ll do it.”
    Truthfully, Thoreau had stopped him well short of what he was willing to do, and Kermit acknowledged it gratefully. “I won’t forget this,” he said. His voice was very quiet.
    Thoreau’s sigh was deeper than words. “Hopefully,” he drawled, “we’ll all forget this--eventually.” He smiled, and it made his voice gentler. “Don’t worry. I’ll talk to Piggy in the morning. It will be—I’ll make it fine.”
    It wasn’t fine. But it was done. Kermit was glad to have it over with.
     
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  5. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Another delightful chapter.

    So the press finally has some "real" quotes they can run with, and boy, will they run.
    :flirt: Like, won't their stockings split that way?
    Dunno, you'd have to ask Piggy or Thoreau.

    Ugh, the creep returns. What's worse, he's better armed and scheming something now. That can't be good. He does, however, get a small point in his favor for being the only one to recognize Kermit's true expression at the red carpet ruinations.
    BTW: Nice you referenced back to when Seymour caught the power couple castlewalking in their Vegas backstage area.
    *Leaves brownies from the array of desserts Mom's been making for that party tomorrow.

    When Piggy went to her apartment's room and sought the bigger box Thoreau had left... I was thinking, "is she going for the shirt Kermit sent?" And there the pay-off was in the next action.
    *Hope the diva dreams divinely.

    Finally, you have the frog taking on an angered dressmaker.
    UD: Bravo on the unquenched rage. Especially liked his "Not everything's for sale!" line.
    But at least the damage has been almost put back to right, so I wait for the next chapter eagerly for where the story will go from here on out.

    Thanks for posting as always. :)
     
    Ruahnna likes this.
  6. miss kermie

    miss kermie Well-Known Member

    Yaaaaay! New chapter!
    Oh how awesome that is to read an awesome story before you graduate.
    Thanks for makin' my day. :)


    REVIEW GOSHNESS! :D
    __________________
    I daresay Kermit did a decent job clearing up that incident with the reporters...
    But the whole "demanding pig" thing still worries me greatly...
    I play it off as a joke now, but if it turns out to be a problem, I will automatically Whack Scribbler upside the head. It's instinct. :p

    The Shirt Ru. Le Shirt! :D
    It's so sweet how she buries her face in it, and sleeps with it, only because it smells of her frog prince... Er, rather king, because they're married. :p
    And as long as she knows he misses her, she can go through with anything, that's very sweet... And I sure hope it's true... I know it's true, but we all know Miss Piggy sometimes, am I right? ;)



    Also, I love how that frog grovels. Gonzo hates to see a pig grovel, and apparently, Thoreau hates to see a frog grovel. :p
    Ru, please gift us with the gift us with the gift of updates... :)
     
    Ruahnna likes this.
  7. lady piggy

    lady piggy Well-Known Member

    What a loverly chapter :) !!! Darn those misinformed reporters, hounding our little frog prince. I think kermit handled it rather nicely, he came of very believable and charming, AND when he said " KAREN" BAHAHAHAHA OMG IM LIKE DYEING. He so cute and old fashion, not knowing who she was or how to youse his phone.

    Also i just love the part with piggy. It's nice to see piggy being able to handle being on her own in the big city. Also when shes remembering how she would try to get kermits attention it reminded me of all those times in TMS. Awww when piggy thought , " he , misses me ,too" . Wonderful as always !!!
     
    Ruahnna likes this.
  8. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    So I reread the last few chapters to get through the drama on Oscar Sunday... And I have to give a tip of the hat to Dame Ru, clever what she did with the chapter titles: What the Reporter Saw, What the Frog Said, and What the Pig Heard. Too bad there's still some evil that has to be confronted in each.
    :grouchy: She could make the next chapter smell no evil?
    Eh, you'd have to hash it out with her.
    :shifty: Hash?
    Yeah, there's some fritters in the kitchen from the party last night.
     
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  9. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Aw, thank you, Countie! I actually get a lot of pleasure out of putting titles to my chapters--sometimes it is the turn of phrase that helps me set the tone for the whole section. As long as I avoid the Pun Police, I'm good.

    Knock, knock.
    Ru: Um--gotta go!
     
  10. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    -----------
    Yeah, I noticed the titles too. Very noir. :) Then again, that frog DOES cut a dash in that trenchcoat and fedora...

    So, SeeSaw is back. Just what we needed. And now he's squirming his way into the Broadway theatre, eh?

    :news: Too bad Gina doesn't work there. She knows how to rig boobytraps. I, uh...set one off accidentally once... *rubs head*

    Yeah. What we need here is a creep pile-on. I nominate Rory and Bobo! Wondering when Piggy will realize who her assailant was and send the Muppet Hit Squad after the stalker. Clearly he's smart enough to prove very dangerous...

    Was taken aback at Kermit's "gosh gee golly I'm just an innocent little hick frog from the swamp" act for the press. Amazing that he's been in the biz so long and nobody's twigged wise to this charade yet! But good for him that it WORKED.

    The "Not everything is for sale" line was brilliant. Though I am snickering that Kermit didn't even guess why Howard would be in Thoreau's room. Then again, he's proven remarkably blind (willfully so perhaps?) to emotional matters in the past...? At any rate, glad Thoreau is loyal to Piggy and doing the odious task for HER sake!

    With every chapter, you manage to bring up some NEW point of suspense. This long in, that's not easy to do! Brava chica!
    --------------------
     
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  11. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Don't worry about those pun police, I've got you covered with a Get Out of Jail Free card.

    Good? I heard you're better than good.
    :): She's the best.
    :mad: She?
    :): Aunt Ru.
    :boo: I reserve judgment.
    :sleep: Oh, till when?
    :boo: Until the pig tells me who to like.
    :mad: Aunt Ru you can like... It's the Kardashian you have to hate!
    :): And Fleet, too.
    :news: So long as it's not me who has the erm, cow and its pies falling on me.

    *Waits for next chapter eagerly.
     
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  12. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Chapter 147: Sneak Piqué

    “Scoop! You and Leonard really brought home the, um, I mean….” Scoop smiled at his boss’s red face.
    “We had a good night,” Scoop said modestly. “Right place, right time.”
    “Don’t give me that noble bit,” said his boss, laughing. The older man searched around on his messy desk for his glasses before realizing he had pushed them onto the top of his balding head. “You’re copy on this is good, the pictures great. But I have to tell you—without this picture, without this proof—I would have said your article was wishful thinking on the part of the frog. Hard to believe, but he’s really not going to stray out of line while she’s gone.”
    “He’s not that kind of guy,” said Scoop. “I mean, I didn’t get to interview him or anything but he, um, you know, seemed like a nice guy.”
    “Must be,” said this editor. He looked at the other picture they had run, the one of Kermit and Miss Piggy at a charity event. They had just left the dance floor, and Kermit’s arm was still around her waist. She was talking to Salma Hayek, bombshell to bombshell, and Kermit was looking—not at Salma—but at Piggy, his bulbous eyes half-lidded with pride and contentment. Leonard had snapped that one, along with several hundred other photos, the night he and Scoop covered the event. Scoop had remembered it and they had hauled it out of the files to run with the current story. “People sure are buying papers.” His tone was wistful, and Scoop reached out and patted his knuckle gently.
    “As long as people want to buy papers, we should print them,” he said. “Lots of people don’t have computers yet.”
    “Yet,” said his boss, and sighed. He loved the smell of ink and grease and pulp—soon to be relics of the past.
    “Look at the bright side. Right now, we’re getting ‘em on both sides—those that want a real paper, and those that get their news online.” He scratched behind his right ear. “Um, how many papers are we selling?”
    Scoop’s boss chuckled and showed him the latest numbers. In spite of himself, Scoop whistled.
    “Whoa!”
    “Whoa is right,” said his boss. “C’mon, Scoop—let me buy you and Leonard breakfast.”
    Leonard, who Scoop could’ve sworn was in the bullpen a minute ago, was suddenly beside him.
    “They still serving breakfast? I could eat a short stack or two!”
    “Sure—why not!”
    “I’m in.”


    There’s nothing like a terrible night’s sleep to set the tone for the day, but having a bad day was a luxury that Thoreau could hardly afford. Parts of the day before had been heavenly—helping Piggy out the door to brunch in the new dress (the new dress which she’d already worn that she couldn’t, therefore, wear today), Les Mis, the way Piggy had accepted his embrace last night after the horrible news, the way Howard had…. Yes. That was better. Much better. Thoreau took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, then another. Yes. Much better indeed. No need getting all aquiver toward no end. He closed his eyes, clinging to his new-found calm, and tried to unknot the nerves in his neck. While he was doing that, Howard came over and handed him a steaming mug.
    “Oh! No! No coffee! I’m all in a twist as it is!” Thoreau began, trying to push the cup away, but Howard just smiled and pointed.
    “Herbal tea,” he said gently. “No caffeine.”
    “Two sweeteners?” Thoreau asked suspiciously.
    “Of course.”
    Gratefully, desperately, Thoreau took a deep draught and sighed out his satisfaction. If someone had asked Howard, he would have said the tension in the room notched down a couple of levels, at least, but no one did. Howard was usually rather chatty himself when he was under pressure, but in his current role of supporter and friend, he was positively stoic. He bore up on Thoreau’s histrionics admirably, and did not take this show of bad temper personally.
    “I don’t even know what Piggy is wearing today!” Thoreau groaned. She had already worn the dress he’d designed for this meeting—sort of a preshow preshow—and he was worried now about having no real backup.
    “Piggy will be wearing something wonderful,” Howard said soothingly. “Goodness knows you’ve designed enough dresses for her to be able to pick and choose. And whatever she’s wearing to the meeting isn’t really that important, because she won’t be wearing it very long.”
    “As long as she isn’t wearing it very short,” Thoreau answered automatically, and smiled in spite of himself.
    “Cheeky,” Howard teased, then returned to the topic. “As soon as you’ve all made polite remarks, she’s going back there with the other ladies to get ready to model.”
    “Yes,” Thoreau said absently. “She will wear something wonderful. I know that. I’m just…nervous. I’m just nervous about…everything.”
    Howard took the dressmaker’s twisting hands and put them together, covering them with his own. Thoreau’s hands were icy, but Howard’s were warm.
    “You don’t need to be nervous,” Howard said. “They should be nervous. You’ve been selling your marvelous fashions for years to women that most of the world can only dream about. This is their big chance to capture some of that glamor and sophistication for the average woman.”
    “There are no average women,” Thoreau murmured, and Howard smiled.
    “There you go,” said Howard. “That’s your ad campaign.”
    Thoreau snorted. “Right,” he said, then stopped, looking thoughtful. “I—that’s not bad,” he said.
    “It’s not just not bad—it’s good! Isn’t that what you’ve been saying all along—that the reason you’ve only done individual fashions before was because each woman needed her own masterpiece to shine.”
    “Yes,” Thoreau said slowly. “That’s why all the dresses for this line are adjustable, so everyone can control their own look.”
    “Right,” said Howard. “Detachable collars, self-or-contrasting cuffs—the one with the reversible jacket is splendid, especially with that piqué collar.”
    “I like the ones with the drawstring ruching,” Thoreau murmured thoughtfully. “Piggy’s going to be a real showstopper in that one.”
    Howard clasped his friend’s shoulders. “See—it’s going to be lovely. They are going to be positively drooling for your designs. Just go in there and own the place.”
    Thoreau smiled, hopeful and confident. He was also calm, ready to face the world.
    “Piggy and the girls are going to meet us?”
    “At the bistro next door.” Howard smiled. “Super of them to come and help us.”
    “Well, the waifs they sent over from Ford’s seem nice, but there’s not a lot of variety, and that’s what I want the buyers to see. Besides, the more models we’ve got, the easier to stage things.” He dared a look directly at Howard, watching the boar’s eyes narrow. “Still…piqued at me for having to model?”
    Howard sighed dramatically and rolled his eyes. “Oh…what good would it do? Besides—if you hadn’t bullied me into it—“
    “Piggy would have.”
    “Piggy would have done it.”
    They grinned at each other. “At least we agree on that.”


    You can go almost anywhere in a navy blue polka-dot dress, and it is fairly safe to say that Miss Piggy can go many places that others cannot. While her dress wasn’t strictly navy blue—more of an indigo-purple blue, with crisp white polka-dots outlined in fuchsia—it was the sort of dress that could take you from the board room to the ballroom—and maybe a picnic and a photo shoot. It was classic in every sense of the word. She had almost worn the spectator pumps, but had decided to let the lines of the dress lead demurely. Her “everyday” pumps served admirably—if 3&½-inch pumps can be called “everyday” shoes. Her hair was natural—that is to say, she hadn’t curled, sprayed, rolled or crimped it—and the soft waves were held back from her face with a pearl-covered silver clip. She looked lovely and sweet and harmless.
    Looks can be deceiving.
    “C’mon, move it,” Piggy said. Her castmates were no less cowed by her than the visiting models, but perhaps a tad more surprised to find themselves so. They scrambled—gracefully—into their outfits and there was a flurry of hair-fluffing and makeup checking. There was tremendous energy in the room.
    “Moi must leave so I can meet Thoreau and his buyers, but I will be back in time to get ready for my turn on the runway. Vous are all marvelous, but do not let me come back here and find anything less than perfection!”
    Wide-eyed, they nodded. Modeling for Thoreau had been considered a plum assignment for the ladies from Ford. This was not the London-Milan-Paris string of lovelies. This was the upscale-department-store, or fashion-forward-website crowd, and working with the likes of an haute couture designer like Thoreau was thrilling—and scary. Arriving to find that Miss Piggy was in charge behind the scenes had been outright terrifying, but in a good way. Thoreau had left very specific preferences, and Piggy matched personnel with outfits decisively, referring to Thoreau’s neat, cribbed handwriting frequently. Those that had a change mid-show were given explicit directions.
    “You know, when she did this in the movie, she was funny,” whispered Trudy.
    “I know—I love the scene where she’s sorting underwear,” Darcy whispered, then gulped. “That reminds me—I’d better get rid of this gum!”
    “I am waaaay out of my comfort zone,” said Stacey nervously. The other Pink Ladies crowded around her.
    “Don’t be nervous, Honey,” said Trudy. “You look luscious.”
    “Swoony,” said Darcy. “Just cause you’re not a twig—“ She bit her lip and shut up as Stacey flushed.
    “I know,” Stacey said. “That’s what I’m saying. Look—put me on the stage and I’ll do anything, but I’ve never been on a walkway in my life. The closest I’ve ever come is when my little brother made me walk the plank off the back porch when I was eleven! I still have a scar on my elbow!” She showed them.
    “C’mon,” said Kristen. “What’s all this about? You look fab and I know you can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
    I can’t,” said Darcy. “That’s why I spit mine out.”
    "But—but models are all, um, slinky skinny and everything,” Stacey said, murmuring low enough that the ladies from Ford wouldn’t overhear. “They aren’t supposed to have, um, hills and valleys,” she muttered.
    “How about bumps and grinds?” Darcy teased, doing a couple of hip locks that jiggled all of her assets.
    Kristen inclined her head toward the door through which Piggy had disappeared.
    “Piggy’s got curves,” she said mildly.
    “Oh, well, Piggy…,” Stacey began helplessly. “I mean, she’s…she’s curvy and glamorous and all….”
    Trudy looked her up and down. “You’re looking pretty glamorous yourself, Sweet Cheeks.”
    “Oh, golly,” Stacey muttered. “I don’t know if I can—“
    “Look,” said Kristen. “Piggy said Mr. Thoreau wanted his clothes to be all about real women. Last time I checked, you’re a real live girl, right?”
    In spite of herself, Stacey grinned. “Um, if you don’t count the push-up bra and the fake eyelashes!”
    “Speaking of fake eyelashes—can I borrow your eyelash glue?” Trudy said.
    Stacey made a face. “You can borrow it,” she said. “But I know what you’re going to use it for, and I don’t want it back after!” She handed it over, then sighed, looking down at the little knit suit she wore. It was lovely, and she had to admit that it fit her form better than it would have fit one of the sprite-like models.
    “Fine, fine,” she muttered. “I’ll try not to trip.”
    “That’s the spirit,” said Kristen. “Now help me tie my sash.”


    Thank goodness the talking part was over, thought Howard. The meeting had been nice, polite, cordial…useless. He didn’t know if Thoreau could tell, but Howard had been aware that everyone there had been so intent on what they would see, that they hadn’t paid much attention to what was being said. Perhaps Thoreau had noticed, for he’d been succinct and swift, flashing his smile and his razor wit sparingly. Buttoning his shirt, Howard smiled. You would not have known Thoreau was nervous, he thought, if you didn’t know he was nervous. Despite his anxiety beforehand, when he’d walked into the meeting, he had been charming perfection. Later, when Piggy had joined them, it had been perfection times two. Howard grimaced. Between that and the present company, he was beginning to feel a little like an ugly stepsister. The thought made him grin in spite of himself. Just put him out in front of the crowd and he’d be fine. He had always been fine on stage.
    Howard was used to being backstage with showgirls and those who had consented, willingly or otherwise, to being choreographed. He felt a little displaced backstage with a scant handful of male models. Fair or not, there are always more new fashions for women than men, and Thoreau’s new line was no exception. While he had stuck with classic lines—Howard smoothed down the silk cotton collar affectionately—he had still done a marvelous job of making things fresh. The linen-rayon blend of the single-pleated trousers was crisp, the seams sharp. The tie was around his neck, but loose, and he checked again to make sure that his cuffs were rolled up casually, and not with regimented perfection. Day at the fair, he thought absently. Afternoon on a picnic. Cool and refined and relaxed….
    Howard didn’t know any of the gentlemen, but they were friendly and eager to please. When Thoreau had appeared through the door, they had flocked to him, wanting his blessing, willing to adjust anything he asked.
    “Almost showtime,” he’d said, breathless but controlled. “First round of ladies first, then you, then the second round, then everybody. Questions?”
    “Is the Windsor knot too stuffy?” one asked. He had very little hair on his head, but his closely-trimmed beard and mustache were manicured to perfection.
    Thoreau eyed the ensemble critically. “No. I like it. Adds polish.” He flashed a brilliant, predatory smile and Howard saw that Thoreau had hit his zone and was ready for what came next. “Alright, gentleman—showtime.”
    Howard smiled. Usually, he thought, that’s my line.


    “I’m going to come in here and beat on a pie tin with a spoon like Aunt Bea,” Sara had threatened. Scooter believed her and tumbled out of bed more or less upright. His tongue felt fuzzy and his hair, which had been moussed into obedience the night before stuck up crazily on one side of his head. Sara smiled at him as she watched him stumble toward the shower. It was not actually early—not like the early days he’d been keeping—but it was early enough to make itself felt after a night out on the town. Scooter took off his glasses and tried to hang them on the hook in the shower. It took him three tries, but eventually he got them up, and by the time he had gotten to the lather-rinse-repeat part he was mostly awake.
    To everyone’s surprise, after he’d reappeared and given his interview to the press, Kermit had come back out, sat politely in his seat, clapped, made appropriate murmurs and given—all things considered—an amazingly good impression of a frog out at the Academy Awards who was having a good time. Only when they entered the limo after an interminable length of time socializing as everyone filed out after the show and decided which party looked to be more career-boosting than the others did Kermit show his true colors. Once the limo door shut, the green frog was unmistakably blue.
    Still, like the trooper he was Kermit all but pushed Scooter and Sara out at the party of their choice—they had been swamped with invitations, as had Kermit—and threatened Scooter with bodily harm if he came in before nine the following morning.
    “What are—are you going to a party?” Scooter had asked, but Kermit had shaken his head. “Ellen said—“
    “I’ve had quite enough excitement for one night,” Kermit said, and smiled tiredly. Sara looked at him and took his hand.
    “You could come with us…,” she began. “Ashley asked if—“
    Kermit patted her hand and released her.
    “Not a chance,” Kermit said. “You kids have a good time. This town is buzzing tonight and you should be a part of it. Scooter’s been dying to show you off, and there are probably lots of newscasters who want to speak to you.” He gave Scooter a look that pinned him in his spot. “If you show up any earlier than nine tomorrow morning, I will hurt you. I mean it—get out and have fun.”
    “You going home?” Scooter asked, but Kermit had smiled and closed the limo door.
    The ride back home was quiet, if not peaceful. Kermit felt like the animated frog in that video game that was popular at old-style arcades, flat and missing a few of his lives. He leaned back in the plush upholstery and let his head fall back. His phone buzzed, and he almost ignored it, but better the devil you knew….
    “Oh, hi Marty,” Kermit said, and listened.
    “I know you can’t see me,” said Marty, “but I’m taking my hat off. You hear me? I’m taking my hat off to you and that crew of yours. I’m not saying the fire’s out, but you sure as heck threw ice water on it.”
    Kermit tried to muster up an appropriate rejoinder, but hadn’t the strength. “Thanks, Marty,” he said, and did not try to hide the fatigue in his voice.
    “Look,” said Marty, and some of the urgency in his voice managed to rouse Kermit. “It’s not going to be like this forever—I swear it’s not. If I’d known—“ He bit off the last word, and curiosity roused Kermit where camaraderie had not.
    “What? If you’d known what?”
    “If I’d known how tough this was gonna be on you two, I might’ve—“
    “What?” Kermit asked, with some asperity. “Not told Piggy about Broadway?” He snorted. “No way. I’m not buying that.”
    “I’m not saying I wouldn’t have told her,” Marty said, “but I might not have…heck, I don’t know, Kermit. I’m…I’m sorry everything’s so rotten right now.”
    “But…it’s not,” Kermit said. “I talked to Piggy and it’s—she’s fine. She's wonderful.”
    If Kermit had imagined Marty’s unlit cigar dropping out of his mouth, he’d have been right.
    “You…talked to her already? She wasn’t taking my calls….”
    Probably on the phone with me, Kermit thought. “She’s okay. I explained and she…she knows I didn’t—I wouldn’t…um, she’s fine, Marty.” Kermit’s quiet certainty convinced Marty of his sincerity.
    “And she’s really fine?”
    “Oh, yeah,” said Kermit, not quite managing to keep a wistful tone from his voice. “She knows what’s coming and she’s ready for it.”
    Marty was silent for a long moment. “Kermit?” he said at last.
    “Yes, Marty?”
    “You two never cease to amaze me.”
    “You wanna know something, Marty?”
    “What?” he growled.
    “Me, too.”

    Scooter didn’t know any of this, but once he emerged, clean and shaved and smelling like “Swagger” he sat down to cereal and the morning’s technology. It wasn’t the first, or even the most frequent angle on the story—that was still the booty-hugging crowd—but Scoop’s photo had managed to float to the top and turn the tide back. Scooter had almost texted Kermit about it, but remembered Kermit’s threat of abuse if he started his work-day over-early and decided that Kermit would surely hear of it before he arrived.
    Scooter looked at the article, Googled “Scoop Bradley” and read a little of what he found. He wondered if Rizzo knew this reporter.
    Sara was up, waiting her turn in the shower, and she had a sleepy, rumpled look that made Scooter wish he was staying later than nine. He stood up and walked to where she stood, watching the microwave heat her oatmeal.
    “Mmm,” he said, inhaling the scent of her skin as he gave her a thorough snuggling. “Wish I didn’t have to go in today.”
    Sara kissed him, but her tone was firm. “I’m glad you’re going in today,” she said, “because I have to catch up on some research for that interview I’m going to do.” She brushed her hair out of her eyes and grimaced. “Besides—it will take me 30 minutes to wash all of the stuff out of my hair.”
    “You looked wonderful,” Scooter said, mooning, but Sara gave him a look of mock indignation.
    Looked?!” she said. "What do you mean "looked"?!”
    Scooter back-pedaled madly. “Umm, I mean—“
    But Sara merely laughed and kissed him again. “No—I know what you mean, Sweetie,” she admitted. “I have to say, I have new respect for all those Disney Princesses. They make it look so easy….”
    “You made it look wonderful,” Scooter said. Sara pecked him chastely on the cheek and handed him his lunch.
    “Go,” she said. “It’s going to take me all day to change a pumpkin into a coach and some mice into coachmen.”
    “Speaking of,” Scooter said. “Do you know that Scoop Bradley guy? He ever blip on your radar?”
    Not yet, Sara thought, but what she said was, “I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure.” Her smile was innocence itself. “Have a good day! I’m cooking tonight!”
    “Can’t wait!” And Scooter was gone. Sara waited a moment to be sure he wasn’t going to come back for his keys or his lunch, then picked up her own phone and dialed.


    Scribbler pressed his not-entirely-clean hanky to his mouth, and when he took it away, the tip was stained red. The sight of his own blood made him furious. He glared at his boss across the desk out of a rapidly swelling eye, and there was a moment when his body tensed as he prepared to launch himself across the dark wood toward his abuser, but Fang grabbed his arms, immobilizing him.
    “I thought you said there was nobody else there! Who the heck is this Scoop Bradford, and why is his story making us look like idiots!” screamed his employer.
    He not only should have expected this—he had expected this, but he had hoped to be on the plane by now, on his way to Missy. And she’ll probably hit you, too, he thought savagely, but at least he deserved Missy’s contempt.
    “What am I—clairvoyant?” he snarled, breathing hard. “How am I supposed to keep track of every durned reporter in this cursed town?” When somebody bothered to look Scoop up, they’d realize he was a rat, and he had said there were rats hanging around. It hadn’t saved him from Bruno’s damaging cuff or his boss’s vicious backhand, but it might save him further abuse—later. The thought of “later” made his knees weak and his guts heave, but he gritted his teeth and tried not to tremble.
    “Cursed…what an interesting choice of words.” The eyes boring in to his were dark, soulless, glittering with malice. “Here’s my…suggestion for when you get back to New York.” Hope, dangerous and fleeting, flared in Fleet’s eyes and he was glad for once for his irascible hair, which had flopped into his eyes when Bruno had smacked him. “I don’t care what the frog said. I don’t care what all the lovers and dreamers and idiots believe. I’m paying you to give the readers what they want, and what this little reader wants is Kermit the Frog’s pointed little head on a plate! I don’t care what you have to do—destroy him—or make a rift between them so big he’ll wish he were dead Life without little Miss Porkchop would be enough to take him down a notch or two, don’t you think?”
    Fear, like a shaft of ice, shot up Scribbler’s spine. If he got out of here alive, he was going straight to Missy and telling her, warning her that…that he was in cahoots with the Devil. He had promised not to lie, but he had certainly abused the truth. Would she believe him if he told the truth now? It would sound even lamer if he tried to say it out loud, even if she believed him—which she probably wouldn’t—but he had to at least try. Fang's enormous hands were biting into his arms, and he willed himself not to cry out and humiliate himself. His left elbow was going numb….
    With a suddenness that surprised him, he felt himself lifted, toted like a baggage to the door and tossed with offhand strength into the bullpen. His numb arms wouldn’t hold him, and he landed, chin-first, on the grimy floor. It took a moment, but when feeling came burning like pins and needles under his skin he pushed to a sitting position and looked up. Jonesy was looking at him, and Scribbler almost looked away, but there was compassion in the dirty bird’s eyes as well as fear. He nodded minisculely, letting the pelican know it was okay, there wasn’t anything he could do, and staggered to his feet. He made his way toward the sunlight visible beyond the greasy windowpanes beside the front door, straightened his jacket with what remained of his dignity and stepped out into the light.
    He was six blocks away before he dared to pat his pockets, dared to believe that it was really happening, that he was really on his way back to New York. He took the plane ticket out and gazed at it, kissed it without scorn, and tucked it away again. Whatever happened, he could still be the dragon at the gate, still protect her, even if she didn’t want him…even if all she cared about was that durned frog.
     
  13. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Marvelous as always. There are a few little typos to clean with Scooterish efficiency... But there's one point of confusion I have, and that's during the backstage dialogue between Piggy's castmates. There are a couple of times where it says Stacy's talking, and then the next line is Stacy saying something to herself as if it were a different character who were talking to her. I'll let you reread that section so we can find where the needle skipped a groove.
    :cool: Huh, wha?
    :D Nah, it's okay. The aliens haven't landed, go back to sleep.

    Thanks for continuing one of the mainstay fics on this forum. :)
     
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  14. lady piggy

    lady piggy Well-Known Member

    What a marvelous chapter!!! Its funny i just came to reread the other chapter and to my surprise and delight theres a new one . Hmm shame on me , for not being on top of my reading . Anyways i absolutely adore how Thoreaus fashion is versatile , not alot of designers do that.And the convo with the girls about having curves, made me smile.
    " hills and valleys " are the new words im gonna start using to describe my body ;)
    Thank you for the delightful chapter!
     
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  15. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    -----------
    That last bit was frogging GORGEOUS. Just when I couldn't feel more contempt for Fleet, you made me feel PITY. Dang.

    I know zilch about fashion, but watching over your shoulder while Thoreau and Piggy ready themselves for the catwalk was interesting. Definitely gives depth to the designer and the choreographer, feeling their tension for a few seconds, at least. I'm out of my depth where the clothing descriptions go, but emotions...that I get.

    Marty's right. Those two's perseverance is amazing! Laughed at your party-name-dropping. Was a bit thrown by Scooter putting his glasses on a hook IN THE SHOWER? Er...they get wet that way, ya know...

    :news: Tell me about it. That's why I always set mine on the shelf, just there.

    Overall, another wonderful swing from the trivial (fashion) to the staggering (Fleet clinging desperately to his morality). Brava!
    ---------------
     
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  16. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Chapter 148: It’s Not What It Seams

    Clifford heard the buzzer and groped for it on his nightstand, but his questing hand encountered no bedside table. That penetrated where the noise had not and Clifford grew still, reassessing. He did not seem to be in his own bed, and for a moment, he panicked. No! No no no! This was not how he had meant things to—wait…. His mind traced back fuzzily until—ah! Oh! Mabel’s couch. He sat up and rubbed his face with both hands, then stretched his arms over his head until his joints complained. What time had he gone to bed…?
    Late-thirty, he thought darkly. They’d all stayed up too late, mesmerized by the news. In the end, it had been information overload, and he’d wondered what on earth was happening with no word from Scooter (no surprise) there, and only cryptic texts from Rowlf.

    DKN-U?
    Don’t know nothing either. I’ll LYK.
    No word from Scooter. W8ting 4 Gonzo.

    It was Mabel who’d finally suggested Muppet Central, and Clifford couldn’t decide whether to kiss her or ask her to boot him in the rear for not thinking of it himself. He wasted no time actually doing either so he could get on and see what the fans had made of it.
    Lots, he’d concluded, and some of it obviously polarized along the supposed frog/pig divide, but beneath all the repetition and muffining about the movie and the role-playing threads there was a pretty solid layer of information. Clifford had grinned. The fans were nothing if not opinionated, but they were also usually well-informed, or at least willing to be. Looking over his shoulder—well, leaning against it—Tricia had been a tad overwhelmed.
    “Wow,” she said. “I mean, I know about groupies but this is a little, um…wow.”
    Clifford clicked open another thread under the Fans section called “On the Web” and scanned the entries, finally clicking one. They read in silence, her cheek pressed against his shoulder blade. He liked the feel of it, the warmth of her against his back, and once when he turned his head she’d grinned at him and smooched him on the corner of his mouth.
    “This one looks pretty interesting,” Tricia said, reading over his shoulder. “I—oh, wait—I think there’s another article or something. Everyone’s talking about it.” They clicked the link and waited, staring when the video began to play. The video was obviously fan-made, and hurriedly, and the camera (probably a phone) bobbed around. Clifford felt a little motion sick by the time it settled on the scene.
    “My mom hollered at me that they just ran a teaser about what happened with Kermit at the Oscars,” said a muffled voice, “so I ran in here to see if they knew what had happened during the interview. You know, he looked all stiff and he sounded strained or something--“
    “They don’t miss much,” said Tricia, sotto voce, and Clifford grunted.
    “Trust me,” he said. “You do not want to do a show if your throat is scratchy or you have a cold—the fans talk about it for days. One time—“
    “Shhh,” Tricia hushed him, and they quieted as the dog food commercial went away and the screen filled with a television screen for what was obviously a local—not a national—news program.
    “And we’re back, and—just like we promised before the break—we’re going to try to get to the bottom of what happened to Kermit the Frog and a famous miss at the Academy Awards.” The attractive newscaster smirked at the camera.
    Clifford and Tricia exchanged looks.
    “I don’t like the way she’s smiling,” said Tricia, chewing a thumbnail.
    Clifford, usually the coolest cat in the room, shook his head worriedly. “I don’t like the way she said "bottom",” he said, but quieted again when the scene on the screen changed.
    “All the stars were out tonight at the Academy Awards, and I do mean all,” the newswoman said. “Even Miss Piggy, who we all know has been taking a star turn on Broadway, made an appearance via camera to talk about the awards with her husband, Kermit the Frog. Fans of the power couple have been chomping at the bit—some of them literally—for a chance to see both of the The Frogs on the same screen. Since the new movie doesn’t come out until Summer, everyone expected to see a little frog-pig love when they talked with Meredith Vieira.” The news shot cut to commercial, but the voice of the videographer continued. “It’s probably just another snarky article about the, um, you know, scene at the Academy Awards, where Kermit was hugging that…um, her, but the local news station owner is a real Muppet geek—I’ve seen him at a couple of meetings—so maybe he knows something that the rest of us—oh! They’re back!”
    This is what viewers saw the other evening after the awards, which seemed to explain Mr. The Frog’s strange behavior.” On the screen flashed the picture—the picture that had been downloaded about a gazillion times worldwide—of Kermit looking up at a sexily-clad Kardashian, his arm settled around what was considered by some to be her best asset. The videographer groaned, disappointed, and Clifford and Tricia both grunted in frustration. “But viewers are only now seeing this picture, taken by one reporter Scoop Bradley, which gives a totally different view of things.” On the screen, there flashed a scene that looked like the back view of the picture they had just scene.
    “Oh, great,” Clifford snapped. “That helped!” Tricia both shushed him and comforted him by patting his knee.
    “Wait a minute folks—there’s a close-up,” said the amused voice of the newscaster.
    “Oh for goodness sake!” cried the videographer, indignant. “Why are they—“
    The close-up coalesced on the screen. Clifford, Tricia and their heretofore unseen videographer all took a sharp intake of breath, and there was a moment of pure silence where no one so much as breathed.
    “Here,” the newswoman’s voice said, as a little orange circle appeared on the screen to highlight what she was saying, “you can clearly see that Mr. The Frog’s cufflink—which I understand his wife Miss Piggy had custom-made for him—is caught on one of the beaded strings of Miss Kardashian’s dress. Reports say that Miss Kardashian offered to allow the dress to be compromised so Kermit could be free to finish his interview unencumbered. Mr. The Frog graciously agreed to replace the torn dress with a new designer dress for the starlet, who is a paparazzi favorite, although Miss Kardashian was reported to have been quite popular later that evening with a little less beading on her dress.”
    The fan making the video let out a muffled shout and struggled to keep the camera steady. The scene on the television pulled back to show the newscaster and her co-anchor smiling smugly at the camera.
    “So—another mystery solved!” said the handsome anchor. “What a generous lady!” He was practically drooling on the news desk.
    The newscaster’s voice was dry. “And what a gentleman Kermit the Frog showed himself to be.” She smiled at the camera. “There you have it folks—what really happened at the Academy Awards!” She turned to her co-anchor. “So, John—how do the odds look for the home team this week—“
    The video shifted from showing the television screen to showing the excited face of the Muppet Central member.
    “Wow!” he said. “Oh—wow! I gotta get this up on MC!” The video ended abruptly.
    Tricia and Clifford let out whoops of laughter and surprise, and Mabel, who had gone to start her evening toilette, poked her head out of the door and squinted at them.
    “What? What happened? Did Scooter call?”
    Joyfully, they explained, then carried the phone over and showed her the video.
    “Well,” she said, satisfied and relieved. “I knew it couldn’t be what it seemed.”
    Although Mabel went on to bed, Clifford and Tricia stayed up another three hours, poring through the comments and sending messages and tweets to anyone they could think of in hopes of getting the news out. And the news had not been confined to that one local station. This reporter—Scoop Something-or-Other—had had his picture picked up by AP, then pretty much everyone else. Rowlf had been overjoyed, and more than a little relieved. He’d sent information to Gonzo, who had texted back that they’d heard already, and that Kermit had followed up with an interview with several reporters backstage, but that the stories hadn’t all made it onto the web or into print yet. Clifford heard in a roundabout way that the word was reaching everyone in stages and decided that he no longer needed to be the town crier.
    “I think it’s time to shut down the ol’ technology,” Clifford said, but when Tricia didn’t answer, he turned to find that she had curled up, catlike, on one end of the long couch and fallen asleep. Her hair was short in back, but her bangs were longer, falling over her porcelain skin and one eye. Her dark eyeliner was smudged, making her look a little like a child who has played with Mommy’s makeup. Clifford felt a powerful surge of protectiveness and…something else. He wanted to stretch out behind her on this couch, wrap his arms around her and feel her, soft and yielding, snuggled into his arms. There was a place on her pale throat that just begged to be kissed…whoa. Whoa.
    Clifford stood up, suddenly, and walked into the kitchen. The powerful tide of emotion swept after him, engulfing him, and he went and opened the freezer, letting the cold air bathe his hot face. He closed the freezer, started for the living room again, then stopped, swore, and went to the kitchen sink to splash cold water over his face. This time, when he stood in front of the open freezer, it seemed to cool him down. In his mind, there was a claxon going off, “Red Alert! This is not a drill! Battlestations! Danger, Will Robinson!” He thought of an intricate bass counter-melody he’d been trying to master, trying to master himself. It took a while, but—eventually—the flames died down, the fire in his limbs cooled and he walked over to the couch.
    She weighed nothing at all. He carried her down the hallway, through the dark, open doorway of her room and laid her gently on the bed. He turned, looking for the soft fleecy blanket he’d seen her swaddled in when reading, and when he turned to place it over her, he found her wide-eyed, looking up at him with…oh…so much in those green, green eyes.
    He started to drape the blanket over her, but handed it to her in a soft, loosely-wadded ball instead. Tricia took it, still gazing at him. “You fell asleep,” he said, and his voice came out husky and low. Tricia nodded, her lips parted slightly.
    “I’m not asleep now,” she whispered, and they stared at each other.
    Clifford bent down and kissed her, scooped her lithe body half-up off the bed and held her lips fast against his. Tricia’s hands tangled in his dreads and she kissed with absolute ferocity, her mouth savage against his. Stunned, Clifford dropped to his knees beside her bed and held her, held her and kissed her until she realized, she recognized that he was holding her, but holding back.
    She ended the kiss and stared at him. “Yes,” she whispered, her breath sweet against his face.
    “No,” Clifford said gently. Her eyes widened with shock and pain, and he saw it, saw that he had wounded her with his refusal, but before she could cry out, could pull away, he had swept her up against him again, his mouth demanding over hers. He held her until the pain leaked away, kissing her with a gentleness that he did not know he possessed, willing her to know him, to understand.
    The kiss ended, as all kisses must. Tricia’s head was swimming, and she looked at him, not sure what to think or do or….
    Yes,” Clifford said at last, his expression intent. “That is—h*** yes, but…no. Not…this is not the time or place.” He inclined his head slightly down the hall, to the closed door behind which Mabel slept. “And we’re both so tired we don’t know what we’re doing.”
    He was very afraid that she might turn, hurt and miserable, away from him. Instead, her mouth curved into a wry smile and one hand rose to touch his face.
    “You seemed to have a pretty good idea of what you were doing just now,” she teased.
    Clifford grinned, his heart singing, and he turned his lips into her palm.
    “Back atcha,” he said softly, then stood and walked back down the hall.

    He was up and making breakfast by the time the women joined him, exclaiming over the fist-sized biscuits that had come steaming and golden-brown out of the oven. Tricia’s appetite was what it always was, but her table conversation was quieter. More than once, Clifford caught Mabel looking at Tricia, at him, aware of some change between them, and he bore up under the scrutiny without flinching. While he knew that he did not have to prove himself to Mabel, he had proven himself honorable to himself last night. Tricia mattered to him. This was not like any of the others.
    He put another biscuit on Mabel’s plate and sat down next to her, one arm across the back of Tricia’s chair.
    “The Indie Vittles have got a full day, I hear,” said Clifford. Tricia nodded, her mouth full of honey and biscuit.
    “We do,” said Tricia, spraying crumbs. She giggled, and Clifford handed her a napkin.
    “So…I was thinking I might go and hang out with you today at the casino. What say, best girl of mine?”
    Mabel grinned at him. “You’re on. Plenty to do at the Palace.” She gave her daughter a fond look. “Mind if I steal your boyfriend for the day?”
    “Please!” Tricia said, and the cheeky smile she gave Clifford told him that she had accepted both his claims and his intentions last night and was satisfied with the outcome. Something inside Clifford that had been tensed, wound, crumpled up into a hard knot gradually relaxed.
    “As you wish,” he said to Tricia. “First dibs on the shower.”

    Scooter took a deep breath, bracing himself to face a morose and work-weary frog, but when the air-conditioned air rushed out to meet him, so did the sound of voices. Scooter’s heart gave an involuntary start, but the voices were friendly, not ominous, and when he finally poked his fiery red head around the corner he found Kermit and Fozzie and Gonzo and Rizzo all sitting around a box of donuts. There was a jug of Starbucks coffee sitting on the counter.
    “Fuel up,” Kermit said. “We’ve got to get started.”
    Hope buoyed up in Scooter like wind in a sail. “Sure thing, Boss,” he said, helping himself. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that the kitchen trashcan was stuffed with newspapers, but none of them were overly crumpled or shredded, so Scooter felt safe assuming that Kermit had made at least an uneasy peace with whatever had been written. From what he and Sara had found online, word of Kermit’s wardrobe malfunction was gaining ground on tales of his supposed marital indiscretion. There was nothing for it but to ride it out, and weather the storm of obnoxious publicity.
    Something caught Scooter’s ear and he swallowed hastily and tuned in to the conversation.
    “—keep the news full of publicity about what we’re doing here at Muppet Studio’s,” Gonzo said. “If we kept the news full of good things, they wouldn’t have so much time to focus on, um, other things….” He trailed off, not wanting to call attention to the previous evening’s public relations disaster, nor the one before that, nor the one before that.
    “Well, I’m obviously not going to argue about keeping attention off me and Piggy for a little bit.” Kermit looked at Scooter. “You have any thoughts?”
    Scooter shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt. Might help. I got a text from Clifford saying that Muppet Central was helping a lot with damage control.”
    “Good,” said Kermit, standing up and grabbing his mug. “Then I’m going to leave it to those of you who know what you’re doing. Scooter—you’re with me. Nothing is more important than getting this film to bed.”
    Scooter grinned. You can’t keep a good frog down. “Coming, Chief,” he said, and followed Kermit down the hall.

    “—why I’ve always said undergarments were over-rated,” Janice finished, talking through the 20-minute lull in the conversation. Several heads turn in their direction, some longingly. They were seated in one of the ship’s many lounges, sipping fuzzy navels and enjoying a leisurely brunch. That morning, they’d played show tunes for an amateur film critic panel. After lunch, they were going to play swing music for a last-minute dance lesson in the lounge. Several more-than-interested cruise ship patrons were clustered at tables near the band, including her usual group of college-age fanboys. They were keeping more of a distance now, since Floyd and Animal had had a little chat with them, but if Janice chose to model her swimwear (or any of her other summer clothes) anywhere on board, they were sure to be nearby.
    Also nearby were Dr. Teeth’s new fan club members. Today, he was playing bridge. Floyd watched him for a while, then shook his head, his bushy red sideburns bright against his freckled skin.
    “Man, I didn’t know Teeth could play Bridge.”
    “You play in a band with a guy for half your life, and you think you know ‘im…,” mourned Zoot.
    “You didn’t know he could dance like that, either,” said Janice, smiling indulgently. “I told you he did a mean cha-cha.” She was glad to see their bandmate enjoying his popularity. Doing the cruise was sort of like the anti-tour. On tour, you went from place to place to place playing the same songs over and over. On this cruise, they had played anything and everything that they could think of—and then taken requests from the audience. There had not been one show that had not been packed, and afterward, well, you didn’t have to load up the tour bus and hit the road for the next stop. You could relax and unwind and get to know some of the fans. Dr. Teeth seemed to be getting to know some of his fans quite well.
    “Well, he’s sure showing some new talent,” said Floyd wonderingly. “I don’t think he’s hardly sleeping.”
    “He can sleep when we get home,” Janice teased. “Let him enjoy himself.”
    “I don’t think I could stop him if I wanted,” Floyd said, watching as Teeth passed around the bridge mix. From the way the women reacted, you’d have thought he was handing out baubles from Cartier or Tiffany’s.
    “Oh, Dr. Teeth,” one gushed. “You have such lovely manners.”
    “Well, you are such lovely ladies, it was easy to be inspired,” said the Doctor in his mellow voice. There was a collective sigh of adoration and Floyd sighed.
    “Never gonna get him off the ship,” he grumbled, and sipped his drink.

    “I’m in love with her,” Clifford said just as Mabel pulled into the employee parking lot at the Palace. “Just thought you ought to know.”
    Mabel let out a whoosh of breath and sat still for a moment. Immediately, the little car became overly warm, and Mabel started the car back up and let the AC run. “Wow—you don’t beat around the bush,” said Mabel, but she smiled, and Clifford took the first real breath he’d had since they’d left the house. “Seems pretty mutual.”
    Clifford smiled, but it was just a hint of his usual broad grin. “May be,” he said.
    “But that’s not all you wanted to tell me.”
    “No.” Clifford had not had much experience with being mothered, and he marveled at Mabel’s ability to read him so clearly. “We—I…I didn’t plan this.”
    “Sometime we can’t,” said Mabel. “Sometimes the way we feel surprises us.” She waited, letting him grope along.
    “Right now, I…this is…there is so much going on in my head right now that I don’t know where to start.”
    “Start anywhere,” Mabel said gently. “We’ll sort it out.” She reached over and patted Clifford’s arm, her little palm soft against his skin.
    “This record deal is a big thing,” said Clifford. “And the tour. The tour is another thing.”
    Mabel was surprised. She had expected him to lead with what he felt, but then, people often surprised you, didn’t they?
    “It is.”
    “And it’s a big deal for all of them, not just Tricia. I mean, this has been the goal, right? To make it on tour, get an album out?”
    “The girls have worked very hard,” said Mabel.
    “So, so—I’m happy. I’m so happy I could be twins,” said Clifford, “so why do I feel like a louse for complicating things when she seriously needs her head in the game?”
    Whew! Clifford might pretend to be the most laid-back, go-with-the-flow guy in the universe, but he was a deep thinker for sure. Mabel was silent, thinking. She did not want to dismiss his concerns—she shared them—but she wanted to be sure that her answer was not clouded overmuch by practicality or sentiment.
    “First of all, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are responsible for Tricia’s decisions,” she said carefully. “She is going to think and act the way she plans, or at least the way she wants. So if she’s falling in love with you—“
    Here, Clifford looked so anxious that she squeezed his hand gently.
    “—and I think she is, then she is doing it by choice, and not because you’re so irresistible she can’t help herself.”
    “Ouch. Thanks—I think,” muttered Clifford, but he smiled faintly.
    “So it’s up to Tricia to keep her own head in her own game, don’t you think? I raised all my children to be independent—“
    “I know. And you know her better than I do!” Clifford cried. “I want what’s best for her. Will she make decisions that are best for her?”
    Mabel was quiet a long moment. “Did she talk to you about…?"
    “Some,” Clifford admitted. “Not much. But I get the impression that she is capable of some seriously self-destructive stuff. Or was.”
    Mabel was quiet again, and spoke with deliberation. “I would say was. She’s got someplace to call home now and the band’s been good for her. She’s beginning to trust other people, beginning to trust herself.”
    “She trusts me,” Clifford said, but he didn’t sound happy about it.
    I trust you,” said Mabel, and Clifford looked up in surprise. “That feeling you have, where you want what’s best for her and not just what will make you happy…not everybody gets to that place.”
    “First time here,” said Clifford, then flashed his brilliant smile. “I like it.”
    Mabel laughed out loud. “Okay, enough serious talk. You put your intentions out and I didn’t chase you with a broom.”
    “Yet,” said Clifford.
    “Okay,” Mabel agreed. “I didn’t chase you with a broom—yet. I never imagined when I asked you to come down and see me that this was gonna happen. The Vittles were still doing what I like to call their county-fair-and-truck-stop tour, but…well. I’m leaving it to you kids to work out what works out—that’s between you two.” She patted his arm again. “But I appreciate you telling me. I knew you were a good guy.”
    For the first time, Clifford didn’t argue with her.

    Rory regarded Piggy over the back of the chair he was straddling, watching her as she put up her hair in front of the mirror. “Aw, c’mon—it was my day off, too. You could’ve at least asked me. I’m fashionable,” he complained for about the billionth time, but if he had hoped to garner sympathy, he was sadly mistaken.
    Kristen came over and put her arms around his neck, hugging him in an exaggerated way. “Get real, Rory,” she said kindly. “You couldn’t fit one bicep into anything at the show, much less two.” She reached out and squeezed one arm muscle admiringly. “Not that we’re complaining.”
    “Yeah, well…,” he sulked, but it was half-hearted. “But you could have asked me, anyway.”
    Piggy snorted. “In the first place, you’d have been bored. In the second place, you’d have been bored. In the third place—“
    “What am I, three? It’s not like I need a keeper.” He glowered at her. “Not like some lady pigs I know….”
    Piggy turned and regarded him seriously. “What other lady pigs do you know?” she asked.
    Rory opened his mouth for a smart retort but Darcy came by and dragged him out of his chair and—hopefully—out of his funk. “C’mon. Chad wants your help in the kitchen,” she said. “I can’t boil water.”
    “It’s about the only thing in this kitchen,” Chad complained loudly from the vicinity of the stove. He poked his head around the corner and glared at Piggy. “Why is there no food in this apartment?”
    “There are two kinds of dinners,” Piggy quipped. “Those you eat in restaurants and those you eat at other people’s houses.”
    “Well, good thing I brought what I did,” he snapped. “But I didn’t expect you to not have, oh, I don’t know—butter, salt, sugar—“
    “Oh, Moi has sugar,” Piggy said airily. “It’s in little paper packages in a paper bag in the fridge.”
    Chad gnashed his teeth, but Rory just grinned at him, leaning in the door.
    “The only thing that surprises me is that you’re surprised,” he said. “What were you expecting—Julia Child?”
    “Well, I wasn’t expecting Old Mother Hubbard!”
    “Moi can hear you!” Piggy growled from the living room.
    “If it’s a bother, we’ll just order out—Piggy’s treat, right Piggy?” Rory said, making sure Piggy heard him.
    Piggy snorted and Rory laughed.
    “I’m glad you find this so very amusing,” Chad snipped. He pointed at the head of lettuce on the countertop. “Could you make a salad, at least?”
    Chastened, Rory went over and unwrapped the cellophane from around the greenery. “There are spinach leaves still in the grocery bag.” This, grudgingly, from where Chad was chopping celery and onions on a countertop he had scoured to within an inch of its finish. Rory worked willingly, listening to bits and snatches of conversation from the living room. He tore the lettuce into bite-sized bits, looked in the bag and found the spinach, and dug in the bottom of the bag for a vegetable peeler and the bag of carrots he expected to find. The grape tomatoes were already out on the counter and when he was done with everything else, he sliced handfuls of them in half and mixed them in. Behind him, Chad was adding tomato paste, diced tomatoes and spices to the stockpot on the stove. Behind that, a larger stockpot steamed with hot water that—despite Darcy’s avowed lack of skill—was indeed boiling.
    “Want me to make croutons?” Rory asked. He always used more butter and garlic than he should—which usually meant he made croutons more often than Chad.
    “If you like.”
    Rory stopped where he was and turned, then put his hands on his hips. “Spit it out,” he said, but his voice was gentle. “I’m apparently too big a lunkhead to know what I’ve done wrong, so you’re going to have to tell me.”
    Chad started to say something, then stopped, and Rory walked over and leaned on the counter where he could see Chad’s face. “Tell me. I’ll fix it.”
    “You…you were disappointed about not being asked to model.”
    Rory shrugged. “I—not really. Mostly I was just yanking Piggy’s chain because…oh. Oh. Chad—look, did you want—“
    “I mean, I know I’m not in the show with all of you but I thought—I had thought that…we were friends.” He did not look at Rory.
    “Chad—of course you’re friends with Piggy. She didn’t mean, I mean…it was all sort of last minute. Piggy said Janice was originally going to come—but she’s on a cruise, and then all of the models from Ford's were all sort of the same silhouette, so she called Kristen and Darcy and….” He spread his hands helplessly. “I don’t think she thought twice about the men who were modeling.”
    “Apparently,” Chad sniffed, but Rory grinned. This was not well-received. “Don’t you dare—“ Chad began, but Rory cut him off by reaching out taking his hand—the one not holding the knife.
    “Look, I thought you knew how she gets. Piggy doesn’t really care tuppence for all the men on the planet—”
    So not true,” said Chad.
    “I wasn’t finished. For all the men on the planet except her frog—and her friends. She didn’t ask me to model—or Harrison, or any of the others—because her friend Thoreau didn’t need any other men to model. In the moment, that’s all she cared about—what he needed.”
    “I know, I know. But I wanted to see the clothes. I’m sure they were divine.”
    “No doubt, but they’ll be out soon and you can own one.”
    “I know. I understand. But I barely even got to meet him,” Chad whined.
    “So come meet him now,” Piggy said from the doorway. Chad looked up guiltily, mortified at being caught pouting by his hostess, then the meaning of what she said burst onto his consciousness and he gaped, flabbergasted. “He’s—he’s here? I thought they went back to L.A.!”
    “Flight got bumped four hours so they opted to change to tomorrow morning,” Piggy said. “They wanted me to come there but I told them I was having a party, so….” She inclined her stylish up-do toward the living room. “They just got here.”
    Chad looked from Piggy to Rory in consternation, then down to check what he’d worn. No worries there, but Piggy caught the look and rolled her eyes. Chad could probably wear a flour sack and look elegant, but he was particular about his dress, and scrambled to untie the apron he was wearing. Rory sighed, took the kitchen knife out of Chad’s hand and pulled him after him into the living room.
    Piggy took a moment before she followed them out, hitting speed dial and waiting until the machine at home picked up.
    “We’re not home. Leave a message.”
    Piggy smiled. She had tried to get Kermit to leave a cute message, or a silly one, or something, but he had not been interested. Hearing his voice still made her smile, and she held the phone close to her lips.
    “Hello, Kermie—it is Moi. I am sitting down to a little supper but I wanted to call and say that I miss you. Kissy, kissy!” She hung up the phone and smiled. She had left him a text, a voice mail on his phone, a voice mail at home and sent him an email which he probably wouldn’t think to check for a day or so, but he would get it—eventually—and when he did, he would know that she was thinking of him. If she could, she would have put up a protective hedge around her frog, buffering him from the harsh world outside. She knew he tried to do the same for her. Here, Piggy smiled. But she was tough. And Kermit was tough. The papers had been odious and horrible and they were all going to be trashcan liners tomorrow, but no matter what—no matter what—she wanted Kermit to know that she was always going to be his girl.

    Fleet felt like he’d been squashed into a glove compartment for the last leg of the trip, and his teeth felt fuzzy from the peanuts and carbonated water, which had done nothing to settle his stomach. He knew there wasn’t any food in his apartment here, but he was too tired to stop anywhere. He wanted a shower and his sheets and to forget who he was and what he’d done, but he would settle for a shower and a blanket.
    He didn’t see the landlady, but he felt someone watching him as he trudged wearily up the steps from the first floor. He was so tired he was too tired to stop and kvetch about the steps, so he just kept putting one foot in front of the other until he stood in front of his door. His key clicked in the lock and he pushed the door open and….
    Fleet felt the sharp prick of tears in his eyes. Gladys and Harve were standing on the kitchen counter, waiting for him. Gladys looked tired, and Fleet noticed Harve’s protective, supportive arm around her waist. She looked better, much better than she had when he had left a million years ago for L.A.
    “Hey there, Buddy,” said Harve. “Take a load off!”
    “Look who’s back!” said Gladys. “Come and have some hot soup.”
    Soup. Soup! The smell of it hit his nostrils and his mouth began to water.
    “You guys…,” he said. He couldn’t think of anything else to say, but his eyes were saying it all.
    “Wash your hands,” said Gladys. “Manners always matter.” When he sat down and looked at the bowl of soup, humbled by this simple show of kindness, she motioned for him to lean forward. Thinking she wanted to say something to him, Fleet leaned, but Gladys merely kissed him on the forehead, holding on to a small fistful of hair.
    “I guess it was bad,” said Gladys. “Harve said they weren’t nice to you. But you just sit down here and have some soup, and then it's shower and a bed for you, mister.”
    Behind her, Harve was making droll faces, amused by his girl’s toughness.
    “Yes ma’am,” Fleet murmured. “You’re the boss.”
    “You bet I am,” said Gladys tartly. “Eat up, honey.”
     
  17. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Oh that was wonderful. You get kudos alone for the entire segment with Cliff and Tricia.
    :insatiable: What kind?
    Huh?
    :insatiable: You said 'Kudos', me wonder what kind.
    :shifty: Yeah, what he said.
    Oh, er... There's peanut butter ones and chocolate chip in the cupboard. And milk in the fridge.
    *Rat and monster set to snacking.

    Piggy's line about dinners made me laugh... Also reminds me of the joke made by ESPN's Michael Greenberg, "the only thing I make for dinner is reservations."

    Though I'm angry with Fleet for causing the entire hubbub, he did at least try to set things back to rights by giving Scoop the um, scoop. So I'm glad he got some TLC by Harve and Gladys upon arriving back at his NYC apartment.

    Thank you for posting, this makes me not hate Mondays so much. *Avoids the "splut" from a tossed tin plateful of custard.
    BMC, devouring the dish: Thank you!

    Er yeah... We'd better get to the Palace before these guys eat us out of house and home.
     
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  18. miss kermie

    miss kermie Well-Known Member

    Well Ru, another job well done.'

    I just would like to say, that the whole comment about the sugar...
    Made me laugh my head off. :p
    Also her feelings about dinner. Yes, of course, I wouldn't have expected less from our diva pig. So... Awesome part there.


    I like the little part about Kermit's voicemail thing, and how Piggy was remembering that she wanted him to leave something cute, or silly... It kinda reminded me of that little video where they speak gibberish and Piggy asks who ever said they never had fun together, and Kermit comments that it was him. :)


    As for Fleet...
    *karate chops him*
    He deserves it.

    More please!
     
    Ruahnna likes this.
  19. newsmanfan

    newsmanfan Well-Known Member

    -------------
    That Clifford/Tricia scene...MAGNIFIQUE! Passionate and sweet. "As you wish!" That has to be one of the sexiest, sex-free scenes I've read in a long while. I stand edumacated, as usual.

    Dr Teeth flirting with biddies over the bridge table? Hilarious. I can see the glint of his teeth in the happy sunshine from here.

    The checking-in-with-the-fandom bit was PERFECT. Perfectly satirized description of just how fanatic them fans is. At least the diehards now know the truth! And I love the groundswell of tide-turning Scoop's scoop is sending out. Now...just how is Fleet going to explain himself to Missy, hmm?

    :mad: There ain't enough explaining in the WORLD for that.

    Gulp...

    Harve and Gladys either haven't heard what Fleet's done...or they're waiting to hear about it from him, like true friends do. Good for the rats! (I love how much personality those little guys inject into every story, don't you? They just move in and take over...)

    :shifty: Gotta problem wit that?

    :news: *scowl* Yes.

    Hush, you two. Settle down and await the next installment like good fans.
    ---------------
     
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  20. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Chapter 149: Hitting the Reset Button

    While he counted out bills, Seymour fantasized about what he wanted to do to this fast-talking, slick-dressed, highway-robber of a scalper, and it helped ease his blood pressure back out of the danger zone. He could probably have bought a car for what he’d just paid for his ticket, and the thought infuriated him. Still, he had the ticket—and a good one, at that—and he made a determined effort to turn his fantasies along more…familiar lines. Piggy in his arms, Piggy in his car, Piggy cozied up to him in—
    “Watch where you’re goin’, why doncha?” the man hollered, shaking his fist at Seymour and picking up the plastic bucket of Broadway memorabilia he’d kicked over. Seymour startled, then looked behind him. He hadn’t even noticed the man’s trinket stand. On some level, this disturbed him, but the rest of him was amused. Ah, Piggy was certainly a distraction of the highest order. Or the lowest….
    Speaking of fantasies…. Seymour put his mind deliberately onto more pleasant things. In this, unwittingly, he had an ally, although he did not know it. He was not the only person wishing for Kermit’s head on a platter.

    “Told you he was cute,” Sally Ann said, not quite loud enough for her brother to hear. Where Sally Ann’s skin was lavender, his was more of a deep, lilac blue, and his short hair had been shorn close and bleached almost white by the desert sun. They had all had a lovely few days being squired around town by the tall, well-built Marine. He opened doors, he complimented their hair, he ogled their shapely legs… No doubt about it—Sally Ann’s brother was a hit.
    “Okay,” said Duncan, lacing up his running shoes. “I’m going to run until I fall over. Anybody coming?”
    “What am I—chopped liver?” Sally Ann complained, putting up her hair in a scünci.
    Duncan grinned. “I meant anybody else,” he clarified.
    “Ooh!” said Sally Ann, smacking him on the arm.
    “Well, since you put it so nice,” Gloria Jean murmured, her sweet voice dripping with sarcasm. Some women had neatly matched running outfits, everything coordinated and fashionable. Gloria Jean looked like she was going to clean out the gutters or rake the yard, but once she was in motion, it ceased to matter. She could keep up with any of them without breathing hard and the expression “poetry in motion” was often used by onlookers.
    “I don’t know,” moaned Amy Lu. “I think I ate too much at lunch for a long run. Do you think I should try?”
    “I think you just answered your own question,” Gloria Jean said dryly. “Once past the lips, forever—“
    “Yeah, yeah,” the little pig grumbled. “Fine. Give me a second to change.”
    When Amy Lu reappeared, accompanied by Laura May, they settled into a loose formation. No sense hogging the road.
    “If everybody makes it past the six-mile mark, I’ll buy smoothies,” said Duncan, and they were off.

    Piggy rolled over in bed, reaching instinctively across to Kermit’s side to drag him into her arms. She was a big fan of morning snuggling, and her enthusiasm for same usually carried the house by unanimous vote. It took a minute, but when her groping hand encountered nothing but an extra pillow, wakefulness intruded, stark and unwelcome. Piggy sat up and pushed her hair out of her eyes, blinking balefully at the light. Her alarm was not going off, but something had…oh. Her phone. The ringer wasn’t on but she could hear it buzzing. She glanced at the nightstand table, saw the time and moved. If she was going to see the boys off at the airport, she needed to get the lead out.
    Her feet pushed into the little scuffs as she yawned and reached for her phone. By the time she picked it up, it wasn’t buzzing anymore and she automatically thumbed the “missed calls” button—and stared.
    “That’s weird,” said Piggy. There were no missed calls. There were no recent calls. The last call that showed on her phone was the one she’d made to Kermit last night. He had not called her back, but she had not been surprised. She thought it was probably because he feared she might be sleeping by the time he’d gone to bed. In addition to being hard on her emotionally, the time change stuff was making her head hurt. Still puzzling about the non-existent phone call, she padded into the kitchen to make coffee, smiling when she found that someone had already set the pot up for her. At home, Kermit usually made the morning coffee and brought her a cup, but this was the next best thing. She hit the "on" button and inhaled gratefully when it began to drip.
    Opening the fridge, she found that there was leftover French bread that had not been commandeered for garlic bread, and there was butter (here Piggy smiled, remembering Chad’s tirade) and marmalade laid out beside it. Piggy felt a twinge of guilt—just yesterday morning she had prided herself on being self-sufficient, but last night she had basked in being surrounded by new friends and old, the queen of her own domain. That they had pampered her, doing everything from prep to clean-up, seemed entirely appropriate, but she was not without gratitude. She poured herself a cup of coffee and made herself a fat butter and marmalade sandwich, which she ate with relish.
    She went to the bathroom and repaired her up-do, did her morning skin care routine and put on a little lip gloss. That was better. She was debating whether to touch the tips of her lashes with mascara when she heard her phone again, and looked down at it resting on the edge of the sink. It was not making a noise, and Piggy’s brow furrowed in consternation. What on—oh!
    Everyone has had those moments when a figurative light bulb goes on over their head. Piggy had two of them in quick succession, and then her eyes clouded over with rage. It wasn’t her phone that was ringing—it was his! That, coupled with the realization that he dared call her again after what he’d done made her livid, and she tore through the apartment and grabbed her purse. Inside, the little pink phone buzzed, and Piggy stared at it for a moment before grabbing it. Her mind was frightfully clear. The apartment was high enough off the sidewalk that if she pitched it out the window—or through it—then it would make a satisfactory crash below. Reluctantly, she nixed the idea. She might hit someone, or damage someone’s car, and she did not want to do community service again….
    She would just ignore him, the cretin. And yet…and yet…somehow, that didn’t seem like enough of a response for all the wealth of feeling that she possessed at this moment. What was the good of wishing that scurrilous reporter ill if he didn’t know of her contempt? What was the point of wanting to beat him to death with his own rolled-up tabloid if she didn’t tell him. Breathing hard, she wrenched the little phone open.
    “Drop dead!” she shouted into the phone. “Do you hear Moi? Make a hole in the Hudson! Fall down a flight of steps!”
    “Missy--!”
    “Don’t you Missy me! Don’t you even talk to me! Don’t you dare you horrible, rotten, awful—“ Her breath caught in a sob, surprising her, and she stopped, unwilling for him to know he’d penetrated her shell. She could not know then that that little catch of breath was like a knife in Fleet’s heart, that proof of her pain would haunt him for weeks. Appalled by her own vulnerability, repelled by her earlier weakness in thinking him trustworthy, Piggy almost dropped the phone, but caught herself in time. She threw it at the wall, where it made a satisfactory smack, rebounded off an end table and finally landed, battery askew, behind the long edge of the curtain.
    The only sound left in the room was the sound of her harshened breathing, and she forced herself to take a deep, steadying breath and grasp for an attitude of calm. Her phone rang, startling her, and she shrieked and looked in confusion at the pink phone lying, devoid of power, on the floor. It took a moment, but she realized that the sound was her real phone—the one in the bathroom. Unsteadily, she lurched toward the bathroom, gripped the phone and pressed a button.
    What?!!” she barked, and there was a startled silence on the other end. For a moment, Piggy was terrified. Did he have this number? Sanity returned when she saw the identifying name on the screen. “Oh—Moishe! Moi is so sorry. I thought….”
    “Somebody’s not a morning person,” said Finkle, his voice dry. “Am I early?”
    Piggy knew and Moishe knew that he was not, but he was tactfully telling her that he had come when called, was ready and waiting to do her bidding.
    “Moi is almost ready,” Piggy said, her voice contrite. “Un moment, s'il vous plait, and Moi will be riiight down.”
    Moishe knew and Piggy knew that this meant “I’m not dressed and I won’t be down in a moment—or several—but I’m coming.”
    “Don’t be too long,” said Moishe gently. “Sylvia sent you a blueberry muffin.”
    “Thank you, Moishe. Moi—I will be down as soon as I can.”
    Piggy’s emotions, already close to the surface, almost undid her. Her faithful cabbie heard the catch in her voice and his brow furrowed in sympathy. Poor thing. She’s already missing her friends.
    “All right, Missy,” Moishe said gently, not knowing how he added to her pain with the familiar moniker. “I’ll be ready when you are.”
    Piggy managed to hang up before she sniffled, but once she’d blown her snout and powdered her face, she had wrangled her emotions back under control and had her game face on. She went to her closet, pulled out the first ravishing thing that she could find—a double-breasted scarlet coat dress with brass buttons—and wriggled into it. She tugged on her black patent-leather boots, zipped them impatiently and snatched up a scarf and coat and her purse. She ran out the door like the devil himself were pursuing her.
    Which was just as well. Practice makes perfect, and all that….

    Scooter looked at Sara in something like amazement. “You went to meet him?” he asked. “What did you say?”
    “Well, it was probably easier talking myself into the office because he wasn’t there and his boss wasn’t there,” Sara said. “They’d gone out to lunch or something, so I just sweet-talked myself in to wait for him.”
    Scooter stared at her. If he had thought that living with a member of the opposite sex would “demystify” them in any way, he was sadly mistaken. “Sweet-talked,” he said, somewhere between amusement and a flash of jealousy.
    “Yes,” said Sara primly, passing him toast. He could tell by her manner that she was inordinately pleased with herself. He was now doubly sorry that he hadn’t woken her when he’d come home late, late last night, because she probably wanted to tell him about her day. He tried to be an attentive audience now.
    “So—was it your crack investigative skills or your gorgeous legs that made him spill his guts?” Scooter teased dryly, striving to hit just the right note. Apparently, he nailed it. Sara flushed with pleasure and grinned at him, obviously pleased.
    “Maybe he just felt sorry for me because I looked so guilty,” she admitted. “He recognized me right away.”
    “You were the media darling that night,” Scooter murmured.
    “Oh, hush. Anyway, after we said hello and traded professional credentials, so to speak, I asked him about the picture he took.”
    His mouth was full of toast and grape jelly, so he merely nodded for her to go on.
    “Well, actually, I asked him why he didn’t write the same story everybody else wrote—why he decided to show what nobody else could see.” Her eyes were enormous, and Scooter thought that—being grilled by her—he would have told her anything. “He said he couldn’t do the sensational story because he knew it wasn’t true. He said he knew that lots of people would want to read about Kermit cheating on Piggy because it would be big news, but he couldn’t write that because he knew it wasn’t so.”
    Scooter grunted. “An honest rat,” he said. “Go figure.”
    “I know,” said Sara. “But it’s been known to happen. Rizzo’s a pretty good guy. And Rhonda would give you the shirt off of Newsie’s back….”
    Scooter grinned. “I’ll bet she would. So…what did you think of him? Is he a nice guy or just a guy looking for an angle?”
    Sara ran her finger idly around the rim of her glass, making it warble like an opera star. “I think he’s a genuinely nice guy,” she said after a moment. “He seems to really take his charge as a journalist seriously.”
    Scooter reached across the table and took her hand, smiling at her. “Sounds familiar,” he said warmly.
    Sara smiled absently, and there was an expression on her face, hard to read but vaguely puzzled. Scooter tugged her hand gently.
    “Tell me,” he said. “You’ve got that look. You went there to find out something.”
    Sara shrugged but did not bother to deny it.
    “So—did you? Did you find out what you wanted to know?”
    “I—sort of,” Sara admitted. Her frown deepened and her forehead furrowed. “I—when I was…when they were….” She shook her head and looked at Scooter, frowning. “I went back and looked at the video I had.”
    Scooter’s eyebrows rose. Of course. Of course she had looked at the video. He tried to remember what was on it, when she had started recording….
    “And?”
    “And…I’m not sure Scoop took that picture.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “I mean, Scoop was in some of the video—and…I don’t know. I just don’t see how he could have been back there taking the photo without me seeing him.”
    “You didn’t see Scribbler,” Scooter muttered darkly. Sara thought fondly that Kermit might not be the only one who might come out slugging if the devious reporter were confronted.
    “Actually, I did,” said Sara matter-of-factly. Scooter looked at her, and almost stood up.
    “You saw him--?!!”
    “His sleeve. Well, somebody’s tuxedo sleeve, and it matches the one in the video from his interview with Beaker and Honeydew.”
    Scooter digested this information. “So, you think somebody else was up there taking pictures with Scribbler.” He wondered if there were any more bombshells about to explode under his boss’s feet, but could not imagine anything worse that what had already happened—even temporarily.
    “Maybe.”
    “Wait—didn’t you say that he had a cameraman who was a guinea pig?”
    Sara grinned at him, biting her lip.
    “What?” Scooter asked, suddenly self-conscious.
    “You just love being bilingual,” she teased. “He isn’t a guinea pig—his cameraman is a gerbil, a gerbil named Leonard. But Scoop didn’t say Leonard took the photo. In fact, when I talked to him about it, he didn’t say he took the photo—he said he got the photo of the cufflink and the dress… I don’t know. Something about the way that he said it was….” She shook her auburn tresses. She was dressed for the day, but her curls were still clipped up on top of her head. “I don’t know,” she finished. “It just made me think…and go look at the film.”
    His curiosity aroused, Scooter started to press her, but at that precise moment, Sara glanced at her watch, let out a little cry of dismay, and bolted for the bathroom.
    “My hair!” she cried. “I have an interview in 45 minutes, and my hair…!”

    “I’m dying,“ Scribbler groaned, laying face-down on the couch. “Call the rat again—I’m dying.”
    ”You’re not,” said Harve kindly, patting his shoulder. “You just want to. It’s not the same thing.”
    “Might as well be,” Scribbler said churlishly, but there was no fight in it. He pushed himself into a sitting position on the ancient couch.
    “You did what you had to do,” Harve said.
    After supper the night before, he had crashed big-time, but once he’d stumbled, gritty-eyed into the kitchen to make coffee and grab a bowl of cereal, they’d all sat down to talk it through.
    Caffeinated and feeling almost human, Scribbler had told them what the articles had not, how he had staged the scene and appeased his boss. Gladys had been faintly disapproving when he’d explained how he had spun the article he wrote from the information he had, but when he’d told them—straight out—about giving the picture to Scoop, Gladys had let out a little glad cry and clasped her hands together.
    “Oh, Fleet,” she said. “I knew you were a good guy. But you can’t tell her,” she said, understanding his predicament.
    “No,” he said. “So…it will be rough for a bit.”
    “There you go,” said Harve. “She’ll come around.”
    “Maybe.” His voice was wistful. “I hope so. But even if she doesn’t, I’m still going to be there, watching out for her.”
    “A good guy,” Gladys murmured, then left the men to talk.
    “You hear about the fashion thing with her dressmaker?” Harve asked.
    “Caught up on the flight,” Scribbler muttered. “Anything you think I might have missed?”
    “Don’t know yet. Grab a shower and we’ll sit down and compare notes.”
     


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