Part 5

Dave was sitting on the break room's overstuffed brown chair, still in awe over the morning's events. Everything was going so *fast*- not that he minded or anything. He couldn't get over how it all was falling into place. All the things that happened to lead up to this: Jimmy's retirement, the staff’s move to New Hampshire, Matthew staying and then deciding to leave, having to play chauffeur to those damned cats, the mishap with the hotel, staying at Lisa's, and the discovery that Johnny and Lisa weren't really married. Dave had always known in the back of his mind that he and Lisa were going to wind up together. He vowed that he was going to make the relationship work. It would be a little hard, seeing as Lisa was on the rebound and a three-hour drive separated them, but Dave wasn't going to give up this time.
Lisa came over to him and sat on his lap. "God, I had forgotten how much fun this is," she said, kissing him softly and quickly.
He mumbled a reply in return and said "Lisa, you buttoned your shirt kinda funny."
She looked down. "Oh."
"No, let me fix it- oops, oh, look, now all the buttons came undone! Aw, gee, Lisa, I'm awfully sorry," Dave said, innocently smiling at her.
Lisa swatted at him playfully, giggling as she rebuttoned her shirt. "Hey, save that for at home, okay?"
They were both silent for a moment. "H-hey, Lisa? What- uh, what brought on... uh, all of... all of this? I mean, I thought you still weren't entirely over Johnny."
Tilting her head to the side, Lisa looked at Dave. "It's actually *because* of my problems with Johnny that made me think about- about us." She took a deep breath. Dave noted to himself that Lisa seemed a little uncomfortable talking about this. "The first time you broke up with me I could understand. I mean, everything that was going on with Stuart and me would have made *me* jealous if I were you. Then during that whole fire thing, I realized that even though I tried to deny it, I still loved you. The second time *really* hurt. I hadn't seen it coming. Honestly, I didn't- and still don't- see how our relationship could have been affecting your work." Lisa lowered her voice. "Getting over you was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. And then Johnny came along. I was still reeling from our break-up and he just treated me like... like a goddess or something. He was the first guy since you who made me feel like I was worthy of someone's love."
"Well, that's not true," Dave said. "What about Walt?"
"That was just... wrong." Lisa shuddered. She continued, "Anyway, Johnny talked a great game and the whole thing was just so rushed. That relationship was *nothing* like what we have. Johnny's the typical tall, dark and handsome stranger, which made the whole thing feel almost dangerous or forbidden."
"And what do we feel like?" Dave asked.
She paused before carefully answering, "There's really not a word for us. It's more of a feeling of comfort or something. It's almost as if we're..." Lisa trailed off, searching for the right words.
"Two halves of the same whole?" Dave supplied.
"Yeah, something like that," she said, smiling. "That's almost exactly what it's like!"
He nodded. "I was thinking about it earlier. That's how I summed up the whole thing."
"That's good, Dave. I'm very impressed," Lisa said, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him. "What?"
Dave lowered his voice. "I wouldn't usually say anything, but someone's coming and I don't think they'd like to see their boss getting all cozy with her old boss."
She looked a bit horrified, as she quickly got off his lap. "What ever happened to your 'let's go someplace where someone might find us' attitude?"
"I changed my mind. I figured it would be really awkward if you were to be caught... doing whatever it is we do." Lisa nodded knowingly.
Joe poked his head into the break room. "Sorry to interrupt- hi, Dave- but we *really* need you right now, Lisa," he said with a hint of urgency in his voice.
"Oh... okay." Lisa turned to Dave. "Feel free to wander around- I'm sure the old staff would still love to see you."
"All right," he said.
She lowered her voice so that only Dave could hear her. "Sorry to leave you to fend for yourself, but I promise I'll make it up to you later." Lisa smiled suggestively at Dave, and followed Joe out of the break room.
Dave rose from the overstuffed chair, noticing how much nicer this break room was than the WNYX break room. As he turned the door's knob, Dave could hear muffled voices and a loud bang as something crashed into the wall that separated the break room and the station's office. As Dave opened the door, he saw Matthew and Beth looking guiltily at him. He then looked down and saw a dented Goofy Ball lying on the ground.
"Hi, Dave!" Beth said brightly. Joe walked over to where the Goofy Ball had landed and retrieved it.
Dave looked at Beth and Joe, who were now joined by Matthew and Max. "You guys still don't work, huh?"
"*I* work," Max said proudly.
"Max, trained monkeys with a tape recorder could do your job," Dave said.
"I know- hey, that was an insult, wasn't it?"
"Very good, Max. I see you're still as sharp-witted as I remember you."
"And you haven't changed a bit either, Dave," Max said as he walked back to the booth.
Dave looked around the office. Matthew and Beth had resumed their game of Goofy Ball. Jimmy was finishing up a conversation with someone Dave didn't know. As soon as Jimmy was alone, Dave walked over to him.
"Hey, Dave, whattaya think of this place?"
"It's great, Sir- uh, Jimmy," Dave said.
"It's the best. Makes ya wanna work here, eh?"
"I really don't-"
Jimmy turned serious. "Dave, we all *really* miss you. A lot. Granted, we do have a bigger, more productive staff, but the ones who used to work at WNYX don't do much. You and Lisa were the hardest workers there, and now Lisa's job is almost completely obsolete because these new people are pretty much self-reliant. As great and friendly as this new staff is, I'm afraid they see all of us as a bunch of slackers. If *you* worked here, they'll know at least one other WNYX alumnus has a work ethic."
"Gee, Jimmy, as much as that makes me want to work here-"
"Okay, Dave," Jimmy said, sounding as if he was getting ready to drive a hard bargain. "If you move up here and take a position in this office, I will not only pay for whatever it is you choose to live in, but I will also double your current salary."
Dave had to admit that the idea appealed to him. He was pretty happy with what he was making at the moment, but ,if he made *twice* as much... God, he'd be able to live comfortably.
"Okay, I will *definitely* consider it."
Jimmy looked at him. "You don't understand, Son. I need your answer *now*."
Dave looked at Jimmy curiously. "Uh, Jimmy, if you don't mind my asking, how do you plan on raising my salary?" he asked, trying to change the topic.
"I may not be in charge of the paychecks, but you're forgetting that I own this station. I have a pretty big say in every matter."
"Oh, okay." Dave paused, trying to think of another excuse. "Hey, what about Lisa? Isn't she your current News Director?"
Jimmy shrugged. "I guess we'll just have two News Directors."
"You can't do that."
"And why the hell not?" Jimmy whined.
"Because... because... you just can't!"
"Wow, Dave, you're reasoning skills sure have improved." After a beat, Jimmy said, "I guess I'll just hafta fire her."
"On what grounds?" Dave asked.
"Failure to perform job qualifications adequately."
"She has to be doing a pretty good job for the station to be doing so well," Dave pointed out.
Jimmy sighed. "Can't you two just rotate? One week you can be the News Director, the next week she can do it."
"That would *not* be good for the station."
"Neither is the idea of you and Lisa having a *third* office affair, but that's not the point."
Dave felt his eyes widen and was sure his heart skipped a beat or two. "Who the hell told y-"
Jimmy shushed him with a wave of his arm. "Never mind, that's not the point right now. The point is..." he paused. "Aw, well, now I've forgotten what my point was. But do you have a better plan?"
"Well, *no*, but I'm sure I could come up with something over time."
"I'm not giving you the luxury of time, Dave. I want you to work here *now*," Jimmy said.
Dave felt defeated. "You want me to come up here that badly?"
"Yes! And so does the rest of the old WNYX staff."
"I'll... I'll have to think about it."
"Dave. I need. Your answer. NOW," Jimmy said determinedly.
"You don't *understand*, Jimmy. I can't just do something this big on a whim. I need to think over it," Dave paused. "Besides, I'm trying to avoid country life- I grew up in Wisconsin! It's so out-of-touch with the rest of the world I'm not even sure it's still technically America. And I know how bad the winters can be. You're going to have snow storms up to the end of April, and then the snow won't melt until mid-May. And rural living *really* sucks."
Jimmy looked as though he was considering what Dave had said. "I miss listening to your rants," he said, clapping Dave on the shoulder as he walked away.
Dave rubbed his eyes. He never knew not working could be so stressful.
"Look out, Dave!"
He looked up in time to see a Goofy Ball sailing towards him. By nothing more than reflexes, Dave managed to catch it. Beth ran over to him, laughing so hard she couldn't put together a coherent sentence.
"Could you... can I have... Dave, please..." Beth managed to get a few words out between her giggles.
"Gee, Beth, I've forgotten how to translate 'Slacker,' so you're going to have to speak a little more clearly."
Beth composed herself. "Dave, may I *please* have the Goofy Ball?" she asked sweetly.
"Sure... hey, shouldn't you guys be working?" Dave said.
"Nothing's broken," Joe said.
"No one needs coffee," Beth answered.
"I don't have computer solitaire on my computer," Matthew replied.
Dave shook his head. 'The more things change...' he thought to himself, amused.
"Wanna join in, Dave?" Beth asked, offering him the Goofy Ball.
"Um, no thanks. Oh, but where's the coffee machine?"
"Just a sec, Dave," Beth said. "Here, guys, I need a break," she threw the ball to Joe. "Okay, follow me and I'll show you where we keep the coffee." Beth led Dave to the break room.
As they entered, Beth slammed the door and stood in front of it.
"Beth, I'm awfully sorry, but I don't like you that way," Dave said.
Ignoring his comment, Beth dramatically pleaded, "You have *got* to work here!"
"And why is that?"
"Lisa is an *evil* News Director- *really* evil, and not that pathetic evil you tried to be. I mean, I love Lisa to death, but she's *such* a slave driver! It's always "Beth, I need more coffee" or "Beth, copy this". And you know what the worst part is, Dave?
"She doesn't say 'please'?"
"I can't even use the pretty *colored* paper. She always wants her papers copied on boring, bland *white*."
"Well, Beth, I'm sure-"
"Dave, you *have* to do something. I refuse to come here every day just to take orders from my friend who thinks she's my boss or something."
"Beth, she *is* your boss."
She looked at him. "That's just a meaningless title." Beth paused. "I mean, I know you're from Canada and all, but you *should* know that as American citizens, we're granted the freedom to think for ourselves and not have a boss."
Dave nodded slowly. "Hey, when were you planning on showing me where the coffee maker is?"
"Oh, it broke a while ago. Joe's fixing it."
"No he's not," Dave said. "He's out there playing Goofy Ball with Matthew."
Beth looked as though the answer was obvious. "He's not fixing it *here*, Dave. Joe has some kind of fixing-broken-stuff machine at his apartment."
So... there's no coffee *anywhere* in this office?"
"Sorry, Dave. We have coffee-flavored Pez lying around here somewhere, but that's from, like, two months ago and I wouldn't suggest eating it. There *is* a coffee machine in the break room, but I'm not surprised that you missed it.
Dave looked at Beth apprehensively. "Oh, God... you know about that, too? Who told you?"
"Relax, no one told me. Joe rigged up a hidden camera to make sure no one from the paper's staff takes our stuff. We just happened to see you two going at it like rabbits in heat.," Beth said, sounding amused. "So what's going on between you guys? Didn't you learn from your previous two failed attempts at a romance?"
"Thanks for that vote of confidence, Beth." Dave paused. "And what Lisa and I do is not your business. With the exception of Lisa and me, it's *no one’s* business!"
Beth put her hands up in defense. "Jeeze, Dave, I didn't think you'd get all bent out of shape over it. It's not like we did anything *wrong*."
Dave was getting a little pissed. The staff's interference was what kept him and Lisa from getting too serious the last two times. "Yes, you did! Recording anyone without their permission is a crime."
"We didn't record it... we just watched."
"Sort of like a peeping tom?"
"Yeah, exact-" Beth paused. "No, not at all."
Sighing, Dave got up and went to the closed door. "Hey, where are you going?" Beth asked.
"Out of this room?"
"You have to promise that you'll take over as News Director here," she said.
Dave rubbed his temples. "I've already talked to Jimmy about it."
"And?" Beth said eagerly.
"I'm thinking about it."
She shrugged. "Ah, good enough. You may leave."
Dave left the break room and wandered over to Lisa's office. He walked in when he saw that she was on the phone. Lisa grinned at him and motioned for him to come into her office. "Look, I've gotta go. I'll get back to you later, 'kay?... Alright, bye." She hung up the phone and smiled at Dave again. "Don't tell me you *still* want more?"
He laughed. "No, I can wait 'till we get home." Dave paused. "Hey, speaking of which, when do you get to leave?"
"I guess I can get by with leaving at six." Pausing, she continued, "When were you planning on going back to New York City?" Dave noted that Lisa didn't sound too thrilled with the idea of having him leave.
"Um... that's kind of why I came to talk to you," Dave said, feeling a little uncomfortable. "Jimmy just offered to... offered to double my salary if I took the News Director position here."
Lisa perked up a bit. "Are you going to take it?"
Dave shrugged. "I don't know-"
"Dave!" she interjected. "How can you *not* take that kind of an offer? You even said yourself that the new WNYX employees aren't the kind of people you want to work with."
"I *also* said that I have no intention of moving back to the country. I'm surprised you guys haven't gotten two feet of snow yet!"
She looked at Dave and said softly, "What about me? Are you just planning on going back to New York as if none of this ever happened?"
"I suppose you wouldn't consider moving back to the city?" Dave asked hopefully.
Lisa shot him a look.
"I didn't think so." He paused before adding thoughtfully, "You know, you're the third person who's tried to get me to stay here?"
"Shouldn't that tell you something?"
"It probably should, but it's not."
"Come *on*, Dave!" Lisa said, sounding agitated. "What's in New York? What's in New York that makes you want to stay so badly?"
"Sidewalks and skyscrapers?"
Lisa glared at him.
"Sorry, sorry," Dave said, holding up his hands in defense. "I just... I can't make a decision *that* big on a whim. I mean, I'd need to find an apartment-"
"You can live with me," Lisa interjected.
"What if Johnny comes back and wants the house?"
"I'm the one paying for the damn thing, Dave."
Dave closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. "Okay, for argument's sake, let's say that I move in with you. Where's all my furniture and stuff going to go?"
After a beat, Lisa said, "I can give some of my things away. And it's not as if that house is exactly well-furnished. Admittedly, it *is* a little bare."
"Okay, then how will I get all of that up here?"
"Oh, that's easy- just do what Matthew did. Trust me, Jimmy is so desperate for you to work up here that he'll do just about anything for you."
Dave paused, before adding, "What about you? I'm taking your job."
"There's *plenty* of things I can do around here. I hate this job, anyway."
He shrugged. "Now that you've successfully shot down all of my excuses, do I need to remind you that I moved to New York City to avoid the dullness of country life?"
"Concord is *practically* within walking distance, Dave! And Manchester's not too far away, either. It's not like we're stuck in the middle of some backwoods no-man's land!"
Dave sighed, feeling defeated. He admitted to himself that moving to New Hampshire *did* sound more appealing to him than it did five months ago, especially now that Dave knew they needed him and that he and Lisa had something going again. And the prospect of having his salary doubled *really* made Dave want to give the whole thing a shot. What the hell...
Dave grinned widely and said, "Okay, I’ll do it."
"You're going to move up here?"
He shrugged. "Why not?"
Lisa sprung up from her chair and hugged him. "Oh, Dave! I can't believe you finally decided to work here! C'mon, let's go tell the rest of the staff that you're going to be their new News Director!"
She grabbed his arm and practically ran to the elevator.

Part 6