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General Disclaimer - This story includes: two women attempting to fall in love and failing miserably at times, bad language, uber characters, Shakespeare, Liza Minelli look-alikes, theatre myths, mentions of the Scottish Play, Jane Austen, characters with similarities to those owned by RenPic/Universal, heady seductions, big blue eyes, abdominal muscles, bad jokes, faulty locks and dirty tricks.
The uber copyright is mine, and Shakespeare is in the public domain, but essentially I'm borrowing archetypes from Xena: Warrior Princess and make no money from writing this story.
Borrowing something from one of my favourite authors, Nicola Griffith... Things expressed by my characters are their opinions, not necessarily mine. To automatically attribute anything written in a story directly back to the author is what Griffith refers to as "denial of the writers imagination." The words might be mine, or they might belong to someone I have seen or heard in my 24 years of life. I probably just made it up. Its fiction.
Dedicated to all the people out there who believe, as I do, in the amateur nature of uber fan fiction.
Comments, suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Much Ado About Uber
"Come on." Laurie tugged the sleeve of Teds overcoat. "Ill introduce you to a few people. I gotta warn you though, were all a little obsessed with this."
"Thats fine, I wouldnt be here if I didnt want to be."
Laurie nodded, and turned away.
Fuck. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck.
On second thoughts, preferably not.
She shoved her hands into her own coat pockets and strode into the Entertainment centre, a few steps in front of the horribly-out-of-place Ted. Deep inside, she realised she wasnt even giving him a chance, but the feeling of having been trapped into the whole thing hadnt left her in the two days since hed asked her out.
At first shed tried to convince herself that he hadnt actually meant it as a real date, but one look at his face when hed picked her up this afternoon had shattered her already shaky delusions on that point.
"Laurie!" Her thoughts were interrupted as arms crushed the breath from her body. The tall, rounded brunette who accosted her smiled wickedly.
"We havent heard from you for months girl! I was just telling Chris I thought you probably wouldnt show. Are you going to play?"
Laurie shook her head, "No, Anita, Im just here to watch." She noticed Teds confused look and laughed. "With the play opening so soon and all, Ive had no time to practice. My concentrations shot, Id rather go out a winner than a loser."
Anita shook her head, obviously disappointed. "You mean youre going to let Chris walk away with this? Shame on you."
"Im sure everyone will get over it. Anita, this is Ted, we work together down at the theatre."
"Laurie, you promised us no more fucking actors!" The introduction was overheard by a tall, blonde, Scandinavian-looking guy who had wandered over at the sound of Lauries voice.
Another bear hug followed, with the tiny blonde woman being swept, squealing, up off her feet.
When she had regained her balance and her dignity, Laurie straightened her clothes and looked over into Teds amused stare. "Ted is not an actor, hes crew."
"Oh that makes a huge difference." Chris exclaimed dramatically.
Not really knowing what to do, Ted stuck out a hand, and the tall man took it, shaking formally. "Howd you do?"
"Ted, meet Christian. My arch enemy."
Chris placed a hand over his heart as if gravely wounded, and Anita rewarded his melodrama with a swift kick in the rear. The girls high-fived and the blonde man looked over at Ted miserably. "Can you see the abuse Im forced to endure? My sensitive artists heart cant take any more..."
Groaning loudly, the group moved into the throng of people, shuffling along the bewildered Ted.,
"A lot of these people are just new, like you, youll probably be up against a lot of them next week so itd probably be a good idea to watch them play, see if you can spot their strategies. Some of them are pretty intense." Laurie explained as they walked along.
Ted wasnt about to admit that he found the idea of a game of Scrabble with intense strategy involved slightly laughable. A guilty spike thrust into his gut and he simply nodded.
Laurie was surprised at how much Ted seemed to understand about the game as they walked around. He nodded knowingly at her explanations, pointed out some interesting games, and asked what she considered newbie, but relatively intelligent, questions. The only thing that struck her as odd was how quiet the normally gregarious man was.
Hes surrounded by strangers. She reasoned to herself. Relax! So what if you were set up? Hes not being completely obnoxious.
The hall was arranged like an enormous examination area, only the desks were wider and had chairs on four sides, with rotating, professional scrabble boards set up on each table. Laurie sucked in a deep breath. She could feel herself getting caught up in the excitement of the day and tried to forget that she was dragging someone along behind her who was probably watching her every move.
The hours wore on and games flew by, until they were standing at a table before the finals match, clapping an anxious Christian on the back as he sat down to face his final three opponents. Laurie felt a stab of envy as she remembered herself in his place last year, trying to keep her competitive instinct in check.
"Laurie!" Anita called from over her shoulder. She whipped around and spotted the womans dark hair flying towards her through the crowd.
"Yeah, whats up?"
"Theyre holding a consolation final over there, and the adjudicator spotted you walking around. She wanted to know if you wanted to play, they have a spare seat, everyone else has pretty much gone home."
"A grudge match?" Laurie grinned.
"Not really, just a bunch of friendly losers sitting around not really wanting to watch Chris trash the final with his weird words."
They both giggled. Ted smiled awkwardly, not even trying to understand. In fact, he was struggling not to let his complete and utter boredom show through. Suddenly Lauries animated face was watching him.
"You dont mind if I go over and play one game? Why dont you wander around, maybe watch the final or something? It shouldnt take longer than 45 minutes, they're using the timer."
"Yeah sure, you go. Have fun!" He urged.
"Thanks, Ill come find you when were done."
The blonde haired woman scooted off after her friend, a feeling of relief washing over her as she left Ted behind.
"So whats with Mr-Strong-silent-type over there?" Anita demanded when they were well out of earshot. "You guys seem pretty awkward with each other. Things not going too well?"
"Things dont even exist to start with. He kind of asked me to come with him, since we were both coming here today."
"He was already coming here? Then why does he look so bored?" Anita demanded, confused.
Laurie screwed her nose, considering her words. "Bored? I thought he seemed fairly happy."
"When youre looking at him maybe. Every time you turn away hes trying hard not to yawn."
"Yeah well, I think maybe I was set up." She turned back to look at Ted, who was holding up a limited edition 50th Anniversary set from the merchandising table. He looked at the price tag, turned a little green, then hurriedly place the board back on the table.
"Oh well, forget about him. Go play." Anita squeezed her shoulders and shoved her towards the game.
Feeling the first spark of enthusiasm shed really felt all day, Laurie plopped down at the table and watched her competitors faces fall when they recognised who their opponent was. She smiled sweetly, pretended not to notice, secretly loving the fear in their eyes.
Heh, who says this is only a game? She chuckled, dipping her hand into the bag and pulling out her first piece.
Two hours later they were sipping cokes at the Pizza Hut inside the Entertainment Centre complex. Fiddling quietly with his Supreme pizza, Ted watched, fascinated, as Laurie meticulously plucked every mushroom off the small pizza in front of her.
"So the ten thousand dollar question were all asking ourselves is, why didnt you order it without mushroom?"
"Its complicated." Laurie answered, returning a cheeky smile.
"Well, I like the taste of mushroom, its just the texture that bothers me. Same with onion, but I cant see them so its harder to pick them off." She laughed in spite of herself. "Eating pizza has always been a complicated ritual for me."
They lapsed into silence again.
They spoke simultaneously, stopped, and laughed nervously.
"You first." Ted offered.
"I was just wondering why you asked me out here today?" She thought about it a second, then decided to just lay it all out. "You obviously have no interest in this game. Besides what you could learn on the internet in a couple of hours."
His jaw dropped slightly, and Laurie grunted. So I was right.
Ted decided not to bother to hide it. The guilt hed been feeling over muscling in on her day weighed horribly. "What gave me away?"
"Call it a hunch."
"Whatever. You havent answered my question. Why the sudden interest in me? When I arrived you looked pretty interested in Jen."
"And you dont think that crush was a waste of time?" Ted cringed, hating to be reminded. Pangs of frustration welled in his stomach.
So much for having put those feelings aside.
"Maybe. But you switched over to me pretty fast. And you must have found something in my file to let you in on the whole Scrabble thing. Is Jen showing all the crew the cast files or something, just for a laugh? Or just mine." She tried to keep the bitterness out of her voice, and failed.
"No, you cant accuse her of that. I...I broke into her office and had a look." He breathed out slowly.
She didn't know why, but she was absurdly relieved that her accusation was unfounded.
Still, why shouldn't I get angry at Ted, if only for appearances sake?
"So you snuck a look at my private file?"
"I needed a way of getting my foot in the door."
A realisation struck her. "So Steve was in on this too?" Now she was genuinely angry.
Ted didnt say anything, just stared miserably into his coke.
She took a relaxing breath, kept her voice even. "I usually react pretty well to just being asked up front. You didnt need to lie to me."
"And would you have gone out with me if Id just asked you? Just like that?"
Laurie looked up into his face, not wanting to add any more misery to the eyes staring at her, not really knowing how to avoid it. "No, probably not."
"But you are straight though?" He asked, trying to be casual.
Annoyance ripped through her. "Why does my sexuality seem to be such a fucking big issue? How about I say thats none of your business? Just like its none of Jens business, or anyone elses!"
An uncomfortable pause stretched out between them.
Ted sank lower into his seat. "I deserved that."
"You bet you did. You guys back there, youre worse gossips than a womens sewing circle. With Jen leading up the bunch of you." Shoving the rest of her pizza away, she decided that she wasnt hungry after all.
"Jen has nothing to do with this." He insisted. "In fact, she would probably chuck me off the production if she heard about me breaking into her office."
"And youd deserve that too."
"Hang on a minute. Why are so angry? I didnt do anything to hurt you. You dont like me anyway. Not that way. So I looked at your damn file. No big deal. Im sorry I did it, but thats no reason for you to get so twisted up." He shoved away his own plate, the cold coagulating cheese on the pizza looking decidedly unappetizing.
Laurie pulled herself up from making a sharp retort, busying herself stirring the rapidly melting crushed ice in her empty soft drink glass.
Ted stared hard at the woman sitting across from him.
Jesus Christ. Why does she keeping mentioning Jen all the time?
Realisation dawned. Oh Christ. That's it.
What?" She demanded, watching his face as his eyes grew unintentionally wide.
"Nothing. Just thinking. Why do you hate Jen so much?"
"I.." She stopped, searching for words. "I...dont hate her."
"Could have fooled me."
"I dont. We just have a per..."
"A personality conflict. Yeah, Ive heard that one already. From you and from her." He interrupted smoothly, grateful to for the chance to push the heat away from himself and steer the conversation somewhere else.
"Well, its just the truth."
Ted watched the blonde woman flailing, knowing he'd hit a nerve. He made up his mind.
"Come on, were obviously both not into this. Lets just go home." He offered.
She smiled at him, gratefully grabbing for her shoulder bag. "Thanks, I think...yeah, Im tired. Lets go."
Leaving their practically untouched pizzas on the table, they picked up their coats and walked silently out into the night.
Late Monday evening, a small spattering of crew were still left in the building.
"Steve, pull the spot a little bit to the right, the coverage on the left side looks like its throwing the shadows further out than it should be."
"Yeah I noticed that too. Dyou mind if I deal with that in the morning? I have a date."
Jen shot him a sarcastic look. "Oh dont tell me, youre going out with Laurie this time?"
"Ha, Funny. No, I have a real date."
"Real date?" She stared at him, the furrows in her forehead deepening.
"Uhhh...leave me out of this." He dismissed her confusion with a short wave of his hand. "Just ask Ted, Im late. I gotta split. See you in the morning babe." He clapped her once on the shoulder before clamouring out of the booth, picking up an old battered army jacket and heading out the back exit of the theatre.
After Steve left, Jen sat, playing idly with the spotlights.
"Real date?" She asked the empty air of the booth.
Steve isn't known for being cryptic. His throwaway comment bugged her immensely.
Dragging herself from the claustrophobic booth she headed for her office and grabbed her backpack. As she headed for the back stairwell she was surprised to hear footsteps echoing behind her. Stopping, she looked back, and spotted Laurie coming out over the stage and through the wings.
When Laurie approached she saw the tall, dark haired figure waiting a little bit off in the shadows, and quickened her step.
"Are you the last one out?" Jen asked roughly.
Laurie tried hard not to be offended at Jens lack of preamble. "I dont think so. Im pretty sure the cleaner is still back there. I thought I heard him rummaging around in the supply room."
"You thought? Or you know?" Jen insisted, and Laurie felt her hackles begin to rise.
As per usual occurrence when I talk to this pig-headed, stubborn, arrogant...
"Im sure." Laurie said, even thought she wasnt. She forced the list of adjectives she'd started building again to the back of her mind. Sighing deeply she held her ground, knowing she wasnt in the mood for a showdown with Jen over whether or not the cleaner was still in the building.
Jen seemed to accept this, and nodded her head curtly. With long strides she headed for the stairs that would lead her out the back exit. She heard Laurie follow her out and she moved quicker, practically throwing herself through the doorway and down the couple of flights to the bottom exit.
Need air. Need fresh air right now!
She heard the stairwell door click above her, and knew Laurie was inside. She reached for the handle at the bottom and turned it roughly. It caught, locked from the outside. A surge of irritation bubbled to the surface.
"I thought you said the cleaner was still in the building?" She snapped, her tense voice causing an ugly echo throughout the stairwell.
"He is. At least I think so. Why?" The disembodied voice floated down from the unseen figure still trudging down the first flight of stairs.
"If he was then this door would still be open. He locks it as the last thing before he leaves. Its locked from the outside."
Laurie was silent for a moment, considering.
"Well, I was pretty damn sure I heard him. I guess well have to take the front exit."
A sick feeling hit Jen in the pit of her stomach. She just stood and listened as she heard Laurie turn around, and head for the inside door. The crunching sound of an uncooperative handle floated down.
"Its stuck." Laurie announced, slight panic in her tired voice.
Jen's heart sank. "Yeah I thought as much. That deadlock seems to stick all the time."
"Well, why didnt you get me to hold the door up here open while you checked to see if the bottom door was open?" Laurie accused.
"I didnt think Id have to since you were so sure the cleaner was still in the building!" She snapped back.
"Great. Now what do we do?"
Jen heard Lauries slim form slide to the ground as the small woman collapsed on the steps above in frustration.
Well, I think that just about says it all really.
"Listen, dont worry." She forced the tension in her throat back down with large swallows, trying to stay calm. "We just have to try and get that deadbolt to work, thats all." Jen started to climb slowly back up the steps. As she rounded the corner to start on the second flight she spotted the bundle that was Laurie, huddled pathetically on the second step.
There was obviously no reply forthcoming. "Did you hear what I said? We just have to work on the bolt a little. Ive seen other people get it to work. Im not sure what with, but well figure it out."
The form shifted slightly, and Lauries head uncurled from her chest. The small woman took a deep breath. "Im sorry, this was just the last thing I needed right now."
Jen felt her breath catch at the vulnerability in her voice. The anger she was wrestling with began to melt away a little faster. "I can relate to that."
Jen held out her hand to help Laurie up. Clutching it gratefully the smaller woman rose, dropping her bag lazily to the ground like it contained a dead weight. "What will we need to get it open?" She asked, fatigue oozing from her soft voice.
"Like I said, Im not quite sure. Let me have a good look at it first." She inspected the lock thoroughly, rattling the handle and bashing her hand down on the lock, all to no avail. Only the back side of a keyhole was visible on their side of the door, and Jen reluctantly had to admit to herself that there was going to be a huge difference between un-sticking the lock from the outside than from the inside."
"Damn." She said, forcing control into her voice.
Laurie wasn't fooled. "What's wrong now?"
Jen shrugged. No point in holding back the obvious. "I'm not going to be able to get it open. We're stuck."
Continued in Act Four...
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