There were only so many episodes of Pinky and The Brain a guy could watch in one day.
Knox, however, was not just a guy, and it had been a day-long event, accompanied by a salad bowl full of fruit loops and an entire pot of coffee. (Quite literally, he hadn’t even put the stuff in a mug. It took a couple of guesses to get the amount of sugar right, but he’d managed.) He had used his sugar rush to throw some way over-due laundry into the machine downstairs in between commercial breaks but that was just about all of the productivity he’d managed. The sugar crash had been accompanied by a nap on the still warm pile of clothing he’d pulled from the dryer moments previously. It might not sound ideal, but with the night he’d had before, it was his current idea of a dream day off.
The 12-hour shift had gone by quickly, which usually meant a rough night for all of those involved. A motor vehicle accident, no casualties. A house fire – one person in critical condition and a toddler with a minor burn from an accidental brush with a hot pan. She had been the real trooper of the night. Once she’d realized her hand wasn’t going to fall off, she’d spent the next 45 minutes telling Knox that Batman was better ‘cause he had cool ears on his superhero helmet. He couldn’t agree more.
As it were, the marathon was over, at least for him, and when Knox looked over at the clock he realized he’d have just enough time to get over to Elisabeth so he could walk home with her, and he didn’t need to be convinced that his legs could use the stretch. He threw a pair of jeans on over his boxers and a baggy sweater over the white tank he had rocked for the last 24 hours and headed out the door, checking and double-checking the lock before he headed down the stairs of their apartment building.
The city was loud tonight – louder than usual. Dusk had just begun to settle and swarms of people made their way past him, consumed in their own conversations. It was comforting, actually. It didn’t matter how tired he was, or what he’d seen – the rest of the world went on as it should, as it always would. He ditched his cigarette on the side of the road, ignoring the glare from the short brunette onlooker who had obviously never made a bad decision in her life, while he rounded the corner to the familiar building. Knox parked himself lazily on a bench outside the building, in clear view of the door Elisabeth usually came out of.
“There’s another guy, isn’t there?” Andrew’s accusation pierced Elisabeth’s fatigued mind. She was too tired to argue with him. Especially about this. She rested her head against the mirror in the dance studio and closed her eyes. With her free hand she attempted to massage the tension from her forehead. Andrew’s assumption was always that there was another guy involved if she didn’t want to go out to a club or restaurant in the evening. How he thought she met anyone else was a mystery to her. She’d only met him when he had mistaken her backstage. The only other guys she met wore leotards and tended to prefer the companionship of other guys who wore leotards. “Andrew, you know there’s no other guy,” she said wearily.
“Bon soir, cherie!
“Who was that, then?” Andrew demanded.
“Philippe. You’ve met him. He’s dating Charles. Actually I think they’re common-law.”
“That doesn’t mean anything. I’d turn straight for you.”
“I don’t think it works that way. I’m just tired. Honest. We had to re-block an entire sequence twice today and even then the choreographer wasn’t happy with the end result. And I had three classes on top of that. Everything is insane before the ticket gala. You know that.”
“It’s your roommate, isn’t it? There’s something going on with the two of you. Just tell me the truth.”
Elisabeth knew the drill, it was a conversation they’d had countless times before. Andrew would accuse her until she felt guilty and agreed to go to whatever function he had planned for them that evening. It didn’t matter how many times she reassured him that Knox was like a brother to her or that she wasn’t interested in any of her coworkers or even had time to meet someone else, it seemed that Andrew was incapable of trusting her. Tonight, however, she would not be swayed. She could see the blood soaking through her bandaged feet – a sign of how hard she had worked. Mauve circles darkened her eyes. “Tomorrow,” she offered quietly. “Make any plans you want and I’ll be there tomorrow. I’ll even bring a change of clothes to work so we can meet right after.”
Andrew wasn’t happy. After another fifteen minutes of arguing, Elisabeth was able to get him to give up on going out that evening. With a promise that he’d drop by later to check on her, she’d hung up. Dating Andrew felt more exhausting than the schedule she maintained at work.
As she made her way to the locker room, she forced herself to smile. She didn’t have a right to complain. Andrew just wanted to spend time with her and between rehearsal and classes, her scheduled didn’t have much free time.
Opening her locker, she stared at the jeans and t-shirt neatly folded on the shelf. Real clothes were not happening. Instead she rummaged in her duffle bag and pulled out a pair of calf-length yoga pants and a blue tank top. After re-bandaging her blistered feet, she wasted no time changing from her workout clothes to, clean workout clothes. That night the only date she planned on having was with the couch.
Making her way from the building, she pulled her hair free from the messy knot she had thrown it up in and used her fingers to attempt to detangle the curls. She was about to pop in her headphones when a familiar voice calling her name caused her to turn. With a genuine grin, she recognised her best friend and all around favourite person, her roommate, Knox. “What are you doing here?”