"You don't really want to go back," Shannon says.
"I want to be where you are," Rebecca answers.
"We could stay here."
"I hate L.A."
"No you don't," he laughs, "You've settled in here, just admit it. You've started writing again. You haven't given any real thought to moving on since you got here."
"I can't take you away from your home..."
"I'm not all that attached San Francisco, Beck. I can be just as at home here. At least the climate is more like what I'm used to. And I've got gallery representation down here already; I'd just have to move my studio."
"I don't know..." she sighs.
"Well, I do know," Shannon says, "I can't be on vacation forever, I need to work. We're staying."
"Okay," Rebecca agrees, "That actually sounds nice."
"You know, we could just blow this thing off and stay here to celebrate," he says, running a hand over her breast.
"Seducing me isn't going to work," Rebecca laughs, "It's your show, you have to go to the opening."
"I really hate these things," he protests.
"Too bad," she says, kissing him lightly, "It comes with being an artist."
"I don't know anything about art," Portia protests.
"You don't have to know anything about art, you just have to chat up the guests."
"It's your gallery," Portia points out, "Don't you have employees to run this thing for you?"
"Of course I do," Mercedes says. Her employee, Eleanor, is the reason she doesn't want to attend the opening tonight. She'll be there, with Justin, and that a little more than she can deal with, "But it's the Arthag gallery, and there should be an Arthag present for the show. And I have this awful headache, I just can't do it."
"Fine," Portia sighs heavily, "If I promise to do it will you please let me practice in peace?"
"So, you finally get a night off, and it's a night that I have to work," Kelly sighs.
"You could blow it off?" Alison suggests.
"No, I can't, Ali," Kelly laughs, "Bartending isn't the greatest gig ever, but I need to get paid. Why don't you come? They're sending me to a gallery opening in Beverly Hills."
"Because I love uptight rich people?" Alison quips.
"Because you love watching me work," Kelly laughs, "We won't have much time together, but we'd at least be in the same room. We don't get enough of that."
"All right, I'll go," Alison reluctantly agrees.
"Hey, French," Coby says when Rainier exits the elevator.
"It's French now?" Rainier laughs, "It's a step up from dick, I guess. I thought you moved out," he says to Stina.
"We were just looking the place over to make sure I didn't leave anything behind. I'm dropping the key off now. And then we're going to an opening at my gallery. Why don't you come with us?"
"You don't really want me tagging along on your date. Unless you're proposing a threesome," Rainier laughs, "That sounds lovely, but I'm afraid I'm too exhausted to take both of you at once."
"Dude!" Coby exclaims in horror.
"I wish you could see your expression right now, Sheffield."
"Behave, Rainier," Stina chides him, "I'll be mostly working all night, so Coby will be on his own."
"As much as I would love to escort your boyfriend for the evening, I really need some sleep."
"C'mon, Rainier, the sun hasn't even set yet. We'll have you home before midnight," Stina pouts.
"I haven't slept in days," Rainier complains, "But what's a few more sleepless, exhausted hours? As long as there's drinks, anyway."
Kelly shows off her bartending skills as Alison looks on.
The guy standing next to her looks familiar, she knows she knows him from somewhere. Probably an actor she's worked with. Then it hits her. "Oh, no fucking way!" she breathes.
"Of all the places to run into you," she says, her voice rising in anger, "You fucking thieving asshole!"
"Alison," Justin says, his voice low and even, "It's been a long time."
"That's it?!" Alison is close to screaming, "You stole my car and ran off with the rent money, and all you can say is 'it's been a long time'?"
"Do you want the money back?"
"The money isn't the issue," Alison retorts.
A few feet away, Eleanor has noticed the argument and excuses herself from from her conversation with Mercedes' daughter to see what's going on.
"Elle, this is Alison Riley," Justin introduces the women, "I owe her money."
"Eleanor Thorne," Eleanor shakes Alison's hand firmly, "Whatever you're owed, we'll pay you," she promises, hoping to end this scene before it gets out of hand.
"I don't care about the money," Alison repeats, and then puts a few pieces together, "Okay, wait...are you two...you're straight?" she asks Justin in bewilderment.
"Did I ever give you any cause to believe I wasn't?" he asks.
Alison's brow furrows as she thinks that one over. Her roommates Lance and Jacob were obsessed with Justin after they'd seen him in some fetish show at a club, and they offered him their couch to sleep on. "I just assumed..." Alison says, but now that's forced to think about it, Justin never gave any indication of being gay or straight beyond hanging out with gay guys he never so much as flirted with. The only times she ever saw him make physical contact with another person was when he was beating the crap out of guys who tried to threaten Lance or Jacob. They would go out to straight bars together to deliberately provoke straight men into attacking them; that's when Justin would come out of the dark corners he'd lurk in and turn the tables on anyone who thought small, pretty Lance and Jacob were easy prey. With some shame, Alison remembers tagging along with her camera, filming while Justin delivered what she thought of as righteous punishment on these homophobes. She was as fascinated with him as Lance and Jacob were, his casual brutality, his fearsome and terrible strength, like an avenging angel. She was as happy to offer him a roof to sleep under as her roommates were. And then one day, he was gone, along with the money for the next month's rent and her piece of shit car.
"Assuming anything about a person is always a huge mistake, Alison," Justin says, "You didn't know anything about me, but you let me stay in your apartment. You assumed I wouldn't steal your rent money and take off with your car. Look where that got you."
"Thanks for the life lesson, asshole," Alison says bitterly.
Justin laughs roughly, "There are bigger assholes than me out there, who'll do a lot worse if thy get the chance. You don't want the money back, and the statute of limitations is long passed, so you can't press charges. So, what do you want from me, Alison?"
Alison glares. "A fucking apology would be nice," she says.
"I'm sorry it was your money I stole, Alison. I actually liked you, which is pretty rare for me. But I needed to get the hell out of New York, and I was broke."
"That's a pretty shitty apology," Alison grumbles. She didn't really even want that from him, but she didn't know what else to ask for when pressed.
Justin shrugs, "It was sincere. Anything else would have been a lie."
Eleanor watches the exchange in silence, absorbing these new facts coming to light from Justin's past, not sure what to make of it.
"Dude, that chick over there is totally eyeing you up," Coby points out, nodding his head in Portia's direction.
"Portia is anything but subtle," Rainier says, trying not to look at her, but unable to turn away, "At least her father isn't here."
"Dude! That's her? Right on!" Coby gives Rainier an appreciative fist bump.
"Somehow, I don't think congratulating me for sleeping with a teenager is appropriate," Rainier laughs, "But, whatever."
"You're looking a little messier than usual," Portia observes as she approaches, "What's up with the hair?"
"It kept getting my eyes. I had to do something with it," Rainier answers, "Are you by yourself tonight?"
"Totally unsupervised. I'm working the gallery for my mother. Or I'm supposed to be, anyway."
"I'm going to go...over there," Coby says, unheard by either of them.
"Where have you been?" she asks, "I'm completely outleveling you. I'm ready to start Act 3, but I've been waiting for you."
Rainier leans on the wall beside her, longing to bury his face in her neck, or better yet, to lay down with her and just sleep wrapped around her. "I'd love nothing more than to enter Act 3 with you, but don't wait up on me if you want to go forward. We're going gold in less than a week, and I'm running on less than two hours of sleep a night; I haven't had time for gaming. This is the first time I've left the office in days; I should be in bed, but those two dragged me here."
"You are looking a little ragged," she says, her lips smiling but with real concern in her voice, "I want you to take better care of yourself."
"As soon as the disk is with the publisher, I'll sleep for a solid week," Rainier promises, kissing her hand.
"I'll wait for you," she says, "I don't want to do it without you."
"Are we talking about Diablo?" Rainier asks, exhaustion making it hard to focus.
"Silly," she laughs, "I have to go mingle now. Take care of yourself, I mean it."
"Becky," Coby says as he squeezes her in greeting, "How've you been?"
"Shannon, this is Coby. He's Heather's step-brother," Rebecca introduces the men.
"Shannon!" Coby gasps, finally meeting the dude Rebecca was so hung up on, "Becky has told me...uh, nothing about you. Nice to finally meet you." After a moment of awkward fidgeting, "I, uh, have to...do something...over there..." he says vaguely, and wanders off.
Rebecca endures it all with a wooden smile.
"That's him, isn't?" Shannon asks, not really needing confirmation. "So, how much 'nothing' did you tell him about me?"
"I called out your name a few times at inappropriate moments," Rebecca answers, "He asked about you, but I didn't want to talk about my personal stuff with him. So he'd go on and on about the girl he was in love with... why are you smiling like that?"
"Because if that's my competition..."
"There was never a contest," Rebecca says, "I was so stupid, Shan. I'll never--"
Shannon quiets her with a kiss.
"It's all right," Coby says, "It's been...interesting. Now, let's go home."
There are some new pics in the Breaking Immersion section today. Becky, there's one in there just for you. ;-)