(soon after Making Up Is Hard To Do)
"Wonder what that's about?" Ruth Valley mused aloud glancing over to the corner of the Rec Room where Noel DelMonde and Monique Dubois seemed to be having some sort of argument. It was difficult make out what they were saying - each in their own peculiar form of colloquial French - over other conversations in the room and the sound of DelMonde's guitar which he continued to strum idly as he debated.
"She wants him to play some stupid little song that no one's ever heard of," Daphne Gollub concluded.
"Oh, I didn't know you spoke two different brands of screwed-up French."
"Not a word of either," the chemist confirmed, then grinned as she set down her cup of coffee. "Want a frighteningly accurate translation?"
Ruth smiled evilly. "Please."
"Oh, mon cher!" Gollub exclaimed putting on an exaggerated accent and pouting her lips. "Please, please, please play ziz little, completely obscure song for me. You know how it goes. La, la la. Like zat."
Ruth put a hand over her mouth to keep herself from giggling loudly enough to draw unwanted attention to her friend's performance.
"Firs' off, cher," the chemist continued, lowering her voice and putting on a fearsome scowl. "I never, ever-never do requests. I feel like I can be a complete jerk 'bout dis 'cause dis is my rule an' ever' motherfucker in dis room know dat. It has always been my rule an' I never break it… 'cept fo' all de times I play requests fo' you after you come up an' flirt wit' me fo' ten minutes." Gollub paused while her companion choked back a chortle. "Secon', what de fuck is la-la-la? Ever' time you want me t' play a song, it fuckin' la-la-la."
"Oh, you know what zat song is," the chemist replied to herself, switching back to her breathless "Monique" voice. "You know all zee song. Your brain, she is so big."
"Like she ever noticed the size of his brain..." Ruth snorted.
"True dat," Gollub conceded thoughtfully in her "Del" voice, ignoring Ruth's comment. "I am a fuckin' genius..."
"Oh, please, please, please play zee little la-la-la song. Your voice, she is so magnifique! And my boobies, they are so huge!"
"You do have a motherfuckin' point dere, cher," the chemist agreed solemnly as her friend wheezed with suppressed laughter. "Jus' keep jigglin' dem tits in my face long 'nough. I make up a damned la-la-la song fo' you if I gotta."
"Okay, I will!"
Ruth wiped tears from her eyes. "Frighteningly, frighteningly accurate," she congratulated her fellow officer.
"As promised." Gollub replied, offering her coffee cup for a congratulatory toast.
Casting a particularly forbidding "I heard that shit" glance in the direction of their table, Del began to strum a simple but haunting melody as Monique returned to her seat. After a few moments he began to sing.
Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
When you kiss me heaven sighs
And though I close my eyes
I see la vie en rose
When you press me to your heart
I'm in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
And when you speak angels sing from above
Every day's words seem to turn into love songs
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La vie en rose
As his fingers danced through the musical bridge, DelMonde shot a warning scowl in Ruth and Daffy's direction before beginning to vocalize, "La la la la da de da, la la la la da de da, la la la la le lah la…."
This touch inspired delighted sighs and a blown kiss from a certain audience member and just as many groans and eye rolls from certain others.
A dangerous glint came into the engineer's eyes as he began the final iteration of the last verse.
"When you speak, angels sing from above," he crooned, putting honeyed magic into each syllable. "Everyday words seem to turn into love songs…"
Even his most jaded auditors felt the jibes in their throats drown in a sudden wave of desire.
"Give your heart and soul to me," he cajoled with unbearable sweetness, "And life will always be la vie en rose…"
The Cajun had already packed up his equipment and left with a rather smug smile on his face before most of his audience came back to themselves enough to wipe the lustful drool from the corners of their mouths.
"I hate him," Daffy concluded picking up the nearly empty coffee cup that had come perilously close to slipping from her fingers.
"Womprat," Ruth agreed, refilling her own cup.
"Damned sexy bastard…" Gollub swore, checking the chronometer to see how much of their break they'd dreamed away under the Cajun's influence. "There oughta be a law."
"In some parts of the galaxy, there are laws…" Valley assured her.
"Sexy bastard-y bastard," the chemist continued to grumble. "Going around being all sneaky-sexy all the time. Getting people worked up for no reason when he doesn't plan to do a damn thing about it. He ought to have to wear a bag over his face… and body… and voice… and brain. Especially the brain. Can you order a telepath-ectomy done on someone for snooping around in your head?"
"Not on most planets in the Federation," her companion replied ruefully. "But there are places…"
"Damned sexy bastard-y bastard…" Gollub bit into her nutrient bar with particular violence.
The vehemence of the chemist's reaction to the Cajun's musical seduction momentarily took Ruth's attention from her own. There was something familiar in her friend's anger… something telling…
"You've slept with Del?" she asked, wondering why she'd never thought about the possibility before.
Gollub made a noncommittal gesture with her shoulders and kept her mouth conveniently full of nutrient bar.
Ruth looked around to be sure no one nearby was listening in before asking, "At the Clave?"
The chemist made another gesture meant to demonstrate she didn't care at the same time as her frown betrayed that she did. "He was Kamikaze's Maker. I was a groupie. You do the math."
Ruth blinked as parts of her past re-wrote themselves. "Did David know?"
The mention of the Antari's cousin, David Maxwell, provoked a deep sigh from Gollub - as usual. "David knowing was the point," she explained.
"Oh? Oh…" More puzzle pieces explaining her cousin's intense disapproval of her love affair with the Cajun during their years at the Academy clicked into place. "Oh, thanks…"
Daffy shrugged and refilled her coffee cup. "It's not all about you all the time, you know."
"At the Academy, you told me not to sleep with Del," Ruth remembered.
"For all the good that did."
"I broke up with him after you talked to me."
"For like what? An hour maybe?"
"You didn't tell me you'd slept with him," Valley accused. "You told me he did drugs."
"And did he do drugs?"
"You know he does drugs."
"And was that a problem?"
"You know it's a problem."
Gollub clinked her coffee cup with her own. "You're welcome."
Ruth frowned. "You didn't tell me you slept with him."
"I was trying to convince you not to sleep with him."
Gollub made a vague, uncomfortable gesture that Ruth deciphered as indicating that her cousin David probably had a lot to do with the decision. "I didn't think it was a good idea."
"Why didn't you tell me you'd had sex with him?" Valley demanded.
"What should I have told you?" Daffy replied, exasperated. "That here was a man - a sweet, mean, sick in the head, brilliant, evil, wonderful man - who could play a woman's body like a silk violin? Who could pinpoint erogenous zones like he was reading from a set of individualized schematics? Who knows when you're going to orgasm before you do? Whose biggest turn-on is knowing that you're turned on? … And he always knows when you're even a little turned on… Even before you do. Who can take you to places in a three minute song that other guys couldn't reach in a three day shtup? Was that going to convince you that sex with him was a bad idea?"
"I guess could have told you that he gets very distracted if someone within a 75 foot radius has a bad thought while he's shtupping," Gollub offered.
"That got a lot better after I was able to teach him some shielding," Ruth admitted.
"Oh, good for you," the chemist replied a little acidly.
Valley shook her head. "You should have told me."
The chemist sighed as she checked the chronometer and began to gather her cups and plates. "It wouldn't have done any good."
"How can you say that?"
"You've never followed the single best piece of advice I've ever given you," the chemist accused, rising. "No matter how many times I give it to you."
"Yep. If you'd just followed my good advice from the first time I said it, you could have avoided your whole Del problem," Gollub decided. "Done away with the whole Del-imna."
Ruth crossed her arms. "And what is this oh-so-brilliant advice that could have saved me oh-so-much grief?"
"STOP FOLLOWING ME!"
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