After Hans left I sat back down by the door. Sure, my desk had been certified goblin-free, but I wanted to make sure I was in a position to overhear if Megan got any more surprise visitors. I figured that Mr. Salvatore was planning to make his move at the office party – because that was when he’d done it last time – but since he acknowledged that he couldn’t be trusted to control himself it stood to reason that he also couldn’t be trusted to stay on plan, either.
I suppose it was possible I was just being paranoid-crazy. Hans was a werewolf; therefore, anything was possible. It was even possible that I was leaping to conclusions and Hans actually was into me for some unnatural (supernatural?) reason and wasn’t just running interference for Mr. Salvatore. But the problem with being paranoid-crazy is that even if you know you are all that means is that you never really know when your fears are justified… which generally leads to a lot more anxiety induced paranoia if you’re ever crazy enough to try and ignore them.
Still, I made a mental promise to call Hans tomorrow. Then I’d be able to ask if Mr. Salvatore had actually shipped back out to rehab – and if he had, I could ask Hans if he wanted to go on another date sometime. It would be my way of apologizing for being a no-show at the office party tonight. And, with Mr. Salvatore out of town, whether or not Hans accepted would let me know if he really was interested in me or had just been being put up to it. Plus, now that I had Hans’ number I could totally call and cancel when I panicked after he said yes.
Having a plan of my own helped. I still couldn’t really focus on work – which I only cared about because of that hyper-anxious little bit of myself that was sure I would get fired if I didn’t, and was energetic enough to let me know it but too small to care about such things as extenuating circumstances and getting leeway for making out with the boss. Regardless, I was half-dozing when lunch rolled around – which was punctuated by Megan having another guest.
“Hey,” I heard Fumiko call on the other side of the door, followed by Megan’s return greeting. I glanced at the time and scrambled to my feet. Fumiko didn’t like ‘wasting time’ in an office, so when she stopped by it was usually for lunch – and I didn’t want to be sitting there looking weird when they came in to fetch me.
I had just managed to pull my chair a safe distance from the desk and get in it when my office door opened. Fumiko was in the doorway. Megan was still getting her stuff together at her desk.
“Hey,” Fumiko said. “Lunchtime, Abby.”
You know how in high school drama mangas there’s always that one girl who’s kind of quiet and hard to approach and unnaturally good at sports that all the other girls look at with awe and vaguely lesbian overtones? That’s Fumiko.
Fumiko got her height from her dad’s side – she’s not, like, Hans tall, but if she’s in a room then she’s going to be the tallest woman in it. Just about everything else comes from her mom, though – a tiny Japanese woman her dad met while he was stationed overseas.
So Fumiko was tall and willowy, with exotically Asian features and, honestly, a bust that had to have come down from her dad’s side somehow, too. She probably could’ve been a model if she’d wanted to – and I know for a fact that she’s taken the odd side job as a booth babe at anime conventions. But that’s just because it combines her love of cosplaying with someone else paying for her convention pass, which lets her put that much more money into making her costumes.
She’s good at sewing, too. Fumiko majored in business so she’d have a ‘real’ degree when she got out of college – but she spent so much time doing costumes for the theatre in college that she could’ve double majored… if she’d been taking classes instead, that is. When she’s in costume she’s really friendly and receptive – she’s so thrilled to show off her work she’s practically another person. Out of costume, though, she’s kind of shy and has no patience for anyone being a jerk. I’m pretty sure she puts up with me for the sake of her friendship with Megan in the same fashion that I put up with Megan’s casual hugs and general outgoingness for the sake of my friendship with Megan.
Of course, having said that, Fumiko is probably still my next best friend after Megan. Once, in college, Megan met up with us at dinner before anime club with a guy in tow. That wasn’t unusual for Megan, but this guy was from her home town. Anyway, I guess they’d used to date – or he’d wanted to – because when she excused herself to use the restroom he started grilling me, the roommate, about Megan’s personal life and dating habits. He was really aggressive and angry about it, too; especially when I started getting too flustered to reply.
But before I could pass out or have palpitations, Fumiko calmly leaned over, patted the guy gently under the table, and told him that if he thought having a dick meant he could be one, she was going to take his away. Of course, he started to say something nasty – but then Fumiko did something that I didn’t quite catch (since it was still under the table) that seemed to require a lot of torque and made him go a little crosseyed. Then she turned to me and casually asked what I thought the club should vote to watch next – as though there wasn’t this guy slumped over next to her, wheezing into the table and trying really hard not to cry.
I’ve considered her a friend and looked at her with awe ever since. I suspect she looks on me with tolerance bordering on bemusement, depending on whether or not Megan is around to act as a buffer, but I think Fumiko is pretty awesome. I guess having a dad who used to teach hand to hand combat to army rangers will make a girl unafraid of anything.
It also helps that she’s even more of a fujoshi than I am, and just as uninterested in having a romantic relationship with a real person. I once heard her tell Megan that she wanted a man who wasn’t a wuss under his bravado and had the staying power of two fresh batteries, but until she found someone who had quality one it wasn’t worth it to bother checking for quality two. Fumiko and I trade manga back and forth a lot.
“Well, are you coming?” Fumiko asked. She wasn’t in costume – she was in jeans, sneakers, and a clingy white sweater under her jacket – and she was being her usual terse self.
I hastily nodded and shuffled my printout into a desk drawer. Then I got up, grabbed my coat, and went to join Fumiko and Megan.
“…plans for this evening?” Megan was asking as I closed my office door behind me.
“No,” Fumiko said. “I hear we have a new boss, so I guess I’ll have to stop by the office party and schmooze a little.” She shrugged. “Otherwise I would’ve just stayed in. You?”
“Abby and I are going to the Club L party, then swinging by the office after,” Megan said. “You want to join us?”
“Meh,” said Fumiko. “It’s not really my scene.”
Megan laughed. “Liar! You know you love to dress up.”
“Oh, sure,” Fumiko agreed. “But it’s New Year’s Eve. Everyone there is just going to want to get plastered and make out. Pass. I’m making a concession just going to the office party tonight.”
Megan shook her head while we walked to her car. “Fair enough,” she said. “But you know, you don’t have to change your plans just to meet the new boss. He’ll be joining us for lunch.”
I stopped. “What?” I squawked. “Again?”
Megan turned and grinned. “Well, I have to get the dirty details from someone,” she teased.
Fumiko glanced between us. “I missed something, didn’t I?” she asked.
“Abby went out with Hans last night,” Megan explained. She laughed again and led us into the parking lot. “I’m still waiting for the details,” she added, and stuck her tongue out at me. “But I do know Abby invited him over, after. Shenanigans of some sort ensued.”
“Huh,” said Fumiko. She took the front passenger seat and I got in the back – I was perfectly happy letting her sit by Megan since it would make it that much less necessary for me to be involved in the conversation.
Fortunately, Fumiko exhibited her typical lack of concern for other people’s drama and moved on. “That fabric shipped yesterday,” she told Megan. “If you want to come by this weekend we can take some measurements.”
“Sure!” Megan agreed cheerfully, and their conversation continued on costumes for next month’s convention.
I breathed a mental sigh of relief and tried to ignore the fact that they were talking while driving.
Fortunately it was a short drive, and when we arrived it looked like Hans had gotten there first. His hummer was in the parking lot. Megan parked, got out, and waved through the restaurant’s front windows. I caught Fumiko by the elbow and Megan went in ahead of us.
“Yes?” Fumiko asked.
“Um,” I said, “Do you mind if I come by this weekend, too?”
Fumiko looked startled. Normally I don’t invite myself out – either Megan drags me along or Fumiko comes over to hang out with us.
“I have this blouse that needs some buttons reattached,” I hastily explained. “But I don’t have a sewing kit at home or know how to reattach buttons, and….”
“Sure,” Fumiko interrupted before I could start sputtering. She turned toward the restaurant – and then did a double take when she saw who Megan was hugging inside.
Fumiko looked back at me. “Is that him?” she asked incredulously.
I leaned around her to look. Hans waved and then turned to continue his conversation with Megan. “Yeah,” I said. “Or his evil twin. Or a doppelganger.” Shit. Were doppelgangers real? Great, now I was going to have nightmares until I made sure everyone I knew had a code phrase for verifying their identity. I hoped no one had been replaced already. That would suck.
Fumiko glanced back at Hans and then at me. “Huh,” she said again.
“What?” I demanded. A little defensively, too. Sure, I knew it was insane that a guy like Hans had asked me out, but that didn’t mean my ego wanted everyone else to think so, too.
Fumiko shook her head. “Nothing,” she said. Then she added, “I was just so sure you were a lesbian.”
“What?!” I squawked, and Fumiko started laughing.
“Well, sure,” she teased. “You and Megan are practically married already. I’ve been expecting you two to just make it official for years now.”
I glowered. “That’s not funny,” I said, and Fumiko’s snickering gave way to a grin.
“Okay, so I was wrong,” she said with a shrug. “Unless he’s your beard?” She asked with a sly smirk. Then Fumiko gave me a friendly punch on the shoulder. “Either way, nice catch,” she added with a nod toward the window. “Try not to break him too badly.”
Fumiko turned and went to join Hans and Megan. I pulled myself together and followed. But even though I knew Fumiko had been teasing – because the only thing more preposterous than me having a guy was me having a girl – I couldn’t quite shake this queasy feeling in my gut. I mean, sure… I spend a lot of time with Megan. And she features in a lot of my fantasies. But that was just because she was my best friend, and beautiful and confident and sexy – and I’m a hyper-anxious neurotic freak. They weren’t lesbian fantasies because I wasn’t even in them! And the ones that were still didn’t have me in them, and didn’t count, anyway – that was the same as making up a BL slashfic of Hans and Mr. Salvatore, but with women. Right?
God, I wanted this year to be over with already.