One Week Later


"David?"
Dave looked up from his laptop and saw Matthew, who was barely balancing two cardboard boxes. Each box was filled to the point of breaking.
"What, Matthew?" he paused for a moment. "Hey, didn't you quit two days ago?"
"Well... yeah. I just came back to get the rest of my stuff. Also, I wanted to tell you that whenever you're ready, Choo-Choo and Mitt-Mitt are ready."
"Matthew, it's 11:30 in the morning. I don't get to leave work until five-o'-clock," Dave said slowly.
"Oh, I know. But I have a 1:15 flight. And I already gave my keys to the landlord and all my stuff is in New Hampshire, so-"
"Wait. *How* did you get everything from your apartment to New Hampshire so quickly?"
Matthew shrugged. "It was easy. Mr. James' helicopter made a few trips yesterday."
Dave wasn't even going to ask how Matthew had managed that.
"Anyway, since my apartment isn't *my* apartment anymore, Choo-Choo and Mitt-Mitt have nowhere to stay..." Matthew trailed off, looking hopefully at Dave.
"No, Matthew." Dave shook his head.
"Oh, please David?"
"No."
"Please, please, please, please, puh-leeeeze?" Matthew begged.
Sighing, Dave relented. "Oh... all right."
"Oh, thank-you, David! I owe you." He ran out of Dave's office and returned with a cat carrier in each hand. Each carrier held a cat, both grossly overweight and howling loudly. Matthew set the crates down and left Dave's office again, this time coming back with a large grocery bag filled with what Dave assumed was cat supplies, although experience told him to not be so sure. "Okay, that should do it. I have a detailed list of instructions on how to feed them, clean their litter pan, play with them, when to put them to bed, and some other really important stuff you'll need to know. Also, don't talk too loudly around them 'cause it makes 'em *really* nervous and they shouldn't be left alone for more than two hours."
"Is that it, Matthew?" Dave asked, sounding bored.
"Yeah. Oh, they get kinda antsy in cars, so ya might wanna put the radio on- oh, damn, I forgot the cassette tape I made for them. Oh, well. They should be fine. Just don't feed them within an hour and a half of going into the car, or else it could get *really* messy."
Dave felt nauseous just thinking about what kind of messes those cats could make in his car.
"Okay, Matthew."
"All right then, David. I will see *you* in New Hampshire tomorrow."
"*Okay* Matthew."
"I'm off then."
"'Bye Matthew."
"Ciao, David."
Matthew turned around to leave and promptly tripped over the bag of cat supplies.

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"Look! It's the plane! It's Matthew's plane!"
Beth was jumping around like a little kid. Her excitement had rubbed off on the rest of the old WNYX staff during the week and they were all looking forward to Matthew's arrival- an extreme change from their original reactions.
"Omigawd! The plane's landing! It's coming! It's coming!"
Lisa looked over at Beth and almost burst out laughing. Beth had grabbed Jimmy's arm and was bouncing up and down excitedly. Lisa's gaze wandered over to Max and Joe. They had no interest in the plane- instead, their attention was focused on every attractive woman that walked by them. Lisa chuckled to herself. She was just glad that the old staff was almost back together. Maybe this would somehow change Dave's mind. Lisa had been thinking about Dave an awful lot lately- she supposed it had to do with her problems with Johnny. Lisa admitted to herself a long time ago that she would always love Dave and was glad that he'd be coming to New Hampshire in less than twenty-four hours.
Her train of thought was interrupted by Beth's high-pitched squeal. The plane had already landed and the passengers were starting to get off the plane. Matthew, carrying a duffel bag and beaming, spotted them and waved.
"Hey guys, what up?" he said.
Beth ran up to Matthew and hugged him. "Matthew! I'm so happy you decided to come up here! We've missed you!"
"Well, hi Beth. I've missed you guys, too."
After exchanging hugs and greetings with the rest of the old staff, Matthew asked, "Hey, has David gotten here yet?"
"Dude, do you know how long it takes to drive from New York City to New Hampshire?" Joe asked.
Matthew shrugged and answered, "It didn't look too far on the globe."
"Globes aren't exactly made to scale," Max pointed out.
"Oh." Matthew sounded disappointed. "So... *is* David here?"
Lisa closed here eyes, sighing inwardly. They were going to have their hands full with Matthew.

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Dave swore under his breath. He had forgotten what traveling at night was like. And he sure as hell had no idea that driving in the dark with two neurotic cats would be so nerve wracking. To top it all off, his heater broke half and hour into the drive and his coffee was almost gone. It was so cold inside the car that Dave almost didn't mind that one of the cats had attached itself to the head rest of his seat. It wouldn't have been so bad if he could listen to the radio to take his mind off the cold and his annoyance, but Dave had long since discovered that this area of New Hampshire only had about three radio stations- none of which came in clearly. Thank *God* the hotel was in sight.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Dave turned into the hotel's parking lot and parked his car as close to the hotel's entrance as he could. "Now you evil little bastards have to stay in the car and wait for me," he muttered to the cats. This made Dave feel a little better, especially when he slammed the door and watched, rather than listened to, Matthew's cats meow pathetically.
Feeling empowered, Dave went into the hotel, eager to get out of the cold. Dave walked up to the check-in desk. A bored-looking woman with a heavy New England accent said, "Can I help you?"
"Uh, yeah, I have a reservation here for tonight."
She looked at him. "Your *name*, Sir?"
"Oh, right. Uh, Nelson. David."
She snapped her gum as she read over the reservations. "I'm sorry... there's no reservation for anyone with that name."
Dave suddenly had the over-powering urge to hurt someone. He looked at his watch- it was almost eleven. There was no way he was going to drive around an unfamiliar place at night just to find another hotel. And he was *not* going to sleep in a car that wasn't much warmer than a meat refrigerator- especially with those two psychotic cats.
"Do you mind if I look at that reservation list?" Dave asked patiently, through gritted teeth and a forced smile.
She shrugged and handed him the paper. Dave scanned the sheet. He didn't see his name- or even a butchered misspelling of his name- anywhere. Dave looked over it again. Nothing. He tossed the paper onto the desk and left.
Once he got outside and the freezing winds hit him, Dave uttered a string of profanity that would have made a sailor blush. When he got to his car, Dave kicked the tire as hard as he could. It hurt like hell, but he decided it was worth it when he saw the cats' obvious horror.
Dave pulled out of the hotel's parking lot and drove aimlessly into the night.

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Lisa was feeling increasingly miserable. She had rented a few sappy movies, which she had planned on spending the entire night watching while eating ice cream and curled up on her couch with warm blankets and Daisy.
Her mind had been wandering since the opening credits of the first movie. Lisa was so confused. When she wasn't thinking about Dave, her thoughts had been wandering between Johnny and work and this new life in New Hampshire and the old one she had tried to leave behind in New York. Lisa laughed at herself. She'd been thinking about Dave occasionally since she'd moved. And ever since Matthew announced his decision to come up to New Hampshire, Lisa had been thinking about Dave a *lot* more: their first relationship, their break-up, the sex after their break-up, their second attempt at romance, the even-more-painful second break-up, their friendly professional relationship, and a few fantasies that would be too risqué for an adult movie. Lisa wondered what life might be like if they had never broken up the second time. She knew she wouldn't be alone right now.
"That's my problem!" she said aloud. "I've been so damn lonely!" Sighing, Lisa tried to turn her attention back to the television.
Moments later, the doorbell rang. Lisa jumped at the sound and wondered *who* could possibly be out at 11:30 at night.
She trudged to the door, suddenly aware that Daisy was her only company in the house. Lisa was beginning to feel a little panicked. 'A psycho wouldn't ring the doorbell,' she tried to assure herself. Lisa looked out the peephole, but didn't see anyone. She swung open the door and a blast of cold air hit her.
To her surprise, Dave was standing on her doorstep, with a cat carrier at his feet.
Before Lisa could react, Dave quickly said, "Lisa, I am *so* sorry to intrude like this, but the hotel screwed up and my car's heater broke and I have these two deeply-disturbed cats of Matthew's." Dave took a deep breath and looked hopefully at Lisa. "Can I stay here for the night?" he asked, sounding very much like a deserted little boy.
"Sure, come on in," Lisa said, picking up the cat carrier.
Closing the door behind him, Lisa opened the carrier and both of the cats ran out of it.
"You won't see them 'till morning," Dave noted. "Thank-you so much."
"Nah, I should be thanking *you*," Lisa said, giving Dave a friendly hug. "God, you're freezing!"
He returned the hug. "Yeah, it's a little cold out there," Dave said. "What should you be thanking me for?"
"Oh, I was about to spend all night alone watching movies and eating ice cream."
Dave looked confused. "Why are you alone? Where's Johnny?"
"Um, I don't really feel like talking about that right now," she said, looking at the ground. Brightening, Lisa added, "Hey, tell ya what- you look like you've one helluva day. I'll make a pot of coffee and we can exchange sob stories 'till dawn."
He grinned. "Oh, it's been so long since my last sleepover party!"
Lisa laughed, feeling the happiest she had in months.

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Dave followed Lisa into the kitchen. God, he really missed her. Dave was almost shocked to admit that he still loved her. Dave couldn't describe the feeling that he got when he saw Lisa- almost as though he felt... complete? *That's* it- it was as if they were two halves of the same whole.
He laughed at himself- he sounded like a really bad Hallmark card.
"Y'know, you *can* sit at the table- you don't have to stand there." Lisa's voice brought Dave back to reality.
"Oh. Thanks," he said.
"Jeez, you must have had a crappy day."
Dave laughed ruefully and sat down at Lisa's kitchen table. "Yeah, you could say that."
"You could use some coffee." Lisa gave him a mug.
"Thanks," Dave said. He sipped it gratefully and his eyes widened. "God, that's strong!"
Lisa smiled. "It'll keep you up 'till sunrise," she offered helpfully.
He looked at her and couldn't help chuckling.
"So how's everything at WNYX?" Lisa asked, sitting in the chair next to him.
Dave sighed. "I won't lie to you- it's horrible. The new staff, as hard-working and reliable as they are, lack the... *camaraderie* we all had."
"Really? I thought that you would have loved getting rid of all those slackers," Lisa said.
"If you'll remember," Dave started, "I originally only wanted *Matthew* to leave. I made that *very* clear." He looked at Lisa. "Why *did* you all leave?"
She shrugged. "I left to run both the paper and the station- I wound up hiring someone else to take care of the paper and discovered that the station's staff was perfectly capable of running everything on their own. So I usually head the meetings and say 'okay' a lot when I'm not in my bigger-than-necessary office. Max left because he thought he'd be the big city boy who'd come and upstage the other on-air talents who he assumed were hicks. Joe came to protect us all from aliens. Beth came because she thought that she could win the lottery because of the smaller population. So, basically, the whole move was a wash."
Dave felt a bit smug. "Didn't I tell say the whole move was a stupid idea? Wasn't that the *last* thing I said as the elevator doors closed?"
Lisa looked at him strangely. "You know, I will give you credit for that, because you sure seem to be right a lot."
"What are you getting at?" Dave asked, a little confused.
"Remember when you said that I shouldn't get married to Johnny?"
"Yeah," Dave said, as her implication hit him. "Oh my God, Lisa, I'm so sorry..."
Lisa shook her head. "No, it's all right."
"What happened?"
"I told you that they released Johnny from prison, remember?" He nodded. "Well, when we came home, there was a message from the pastor who married us. He said that it was urgent and that we should call him back immediately." Lisa took a deep breath. She continued, "Well, to made a long story mercifully short, it turns out that the pastor had no real affiliation with the Church. So, Johnny and I weren't technically married." Dave noted that Lisa's eyes were starting to look watery. "When Johnny found out, he started acting like a caged animal or something. He started leaving the house for hours then days and now weeks- no notice, he just goes." She paused and when she continued, her voice was starting to break. "Johnny had the courtesy to leave a note the morning he left and it said that he was going to be gone for a while so he could sort through his feelings, when what he *really* meant was that he planned on hitting every whorehouse and strip club he could find. And here I am, working my ass off and missing him!" Lisa got up and went to the sink to pour herself a glass of water. Dave admitted that a very small part of him was almost happy to hear that Lisa and Johnny were having so many problems. The rest of him felt extremely guilty for feeling that way.
Dave rose from his chair and went over to where Lisa was standing. "Lisa, I'm so sorry about all of this."
Lisa looked up at him. "And you know what's worse? I can't talk to anyone else about it. You're the only one I ever went to with my problems and now you're three hours away." She sniffed. "I guess it really is my own fault on that one- I'm the one who abandoned you in New York."
Dave embraced Lisa as she started to cry. She clung to him, sobbing. They stood like that for several minutes before Lisa gained back some of her composure. Dave, however, was having a hard time keeping himself from crying. Despite their past, he had always thought of Lisa as being just a little emotionally hardened.
Lisa pulled away. "God, I'm sorry. I shouldn't be unloading all of my problems on you like this."
Dave looked at her. "Lisa, I don't mind. Really. That's what I'm here for," he said, smiling a little.
They both stood there. There was something about the moment that made Dave wonder if kissing Lisa would be inappropriate. She obviously felt it, too, and Dave guessed that the tension made Lisa uneasy, as she laughed nervously. "This is getting *entirely* too uncomfortable," she said. "Do you want something to eat?"
Dave was about to say something about how starving he was, but yawned instead. "Y'know what? I can do without food for tonight. I haven't been sleeping too well lately, so I'll think I'll just go crash on the couch." Dave turned to leave the kitchen when he heard Lisa say tentatively, "Um, Dave?"
"Yeah?" He turned around.
"Um, this is a rather awkward question- and you can say no if you want- but, uh, I've been... I've been so lonely lately that I- I'll go absolutely *insane* if I have to... to, uh, spend another night alone in that bed. Would you mind... would you mind sleeping with me tonight?"
Dave noticed that Lisa's face had become bright red. He was hoping Lisa would ask him that, but in a different way. He shrugged. "Sure... I'm pretty tired of sleeping alone myself."
Lisa smiled. "Thanks, Dave."

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Lisa turned off her alarm as soon as the radio went off at six-o'-clock. She had set it to be as quiet as she could manage, in hopes of not waking Dave. She rolled over to make sure that he was still sleeping. Dave had his back to her, but Lisa could tell by his breathing that he wasn't awake. Lisa felt relieved. As she got out of bed, Lisa reflected on the previous night's events. She had never let anyone see her cry before- Lisa always thought that showing emotion was a sign of weakness and made one vulnerable. She never liked appearing weak and in need of protection.
Shuffling into the kitchen, Lisa started a pot of coffee. Looking out the kitchen window, she noticed that it had snowed quite heavily sometime during the night. This was the first time it had snowed since the cold weather set in during September. Lisa loved snow, especially before the plows and children got to it.
Daisy skittered into the kitchen, carrying her leash in her mouth. "Oh, you want to go out, don't you?" she asked the small dog, half expecting her to respond. Lisa walked over to the front door and Daisy bounded after her. When Lisa opened the door, Daisy flew outside and immediately rolled around, obviously enchanted by the snow that she had never witnessed before. Lisa smiled. She couldn't help thinking that if she had kids they would be doing the same thing. The thought saddened her. Lisa had been so sure that she and Johnny would have children. *That* was obviously out of the question now. Her thoughts turned unexpectedly to Bill and how he had offered to help her have a baby. She smiled at the memory. *There* was someone she hadn't thought about for a while- Bill McNeal. God, she missed him. Lisa wondered what he would be like in New Hampshire. She laughed, a bit despondently, as she imagined his over-blown ego taking a beating by discovering that the New Englanders he looked down upon were every bit as competent as talented as he, if not more so.
Daisy returned from her romp, shaking from the cold wetness of the melted snow. "Oh, come here, Baby," Lisa said, as she picked up the shivering dog.
She placed Daisy next to the heating vent on the floor. Daisy gratefully stretched out on top of it. Lisa thoughts of Bill reminded her that she still had to go to work. She wondered if Dave would want to come along and meet the new staff at the station and see the old WNYX gang again. Maybe she'd be going into work a little later than usual today.

Part 3