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i see it written on your face

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one.

 

It all starts with oat milk on the grocery list.

Josefina squints at it at first, right there in Deborah’s handwriting next to CO2 refills and fresh lemon. And while it’s certainly not the strangest thing Deborah has ever requested (considering she’s sent her on wild goose chases for everything from 18th century vases to six hundred dollar cold cream), it still makes her raise a brow.

Despite it all, the oat milk is purchased and unpacked and put in the fridge next to the usual 2%. Josefina watches it slowly disappear day by day, despite never having seen Deborah use or request it, and by the next week it’s right there on the grocery list again. Then the week after that, and the next, until it has somehow become a household staple that Deborah doesn’t even have to ask for anymore.

Still, Josefina has no idea where it goes. For all she knows, the mansion is now riddled with oat milk-obsessed ghosts that Deborah has struck some kind of deal with. That is, until she enters the kitchen one morning to see Deborah grinding coffee beans as she skims the morning paper.

“Can I make you something?” Josefina asks as the grinder stops.

“Ah, no, I think I’ve finally figured this damn thing out,” Deborah says, motioning to the espresso machine. “Thank you.”

Deborah loads the portafilter with coffee grounds, stamping it down until it’s perfectly full, and Josefina can’t help but wonder when she had the time to learn how to use it. In fact, if she remembers correctly, Deborah had thrown the first espresso machine they’d had from the guest room balcony. She’d run the second one over with her car.

And yet now Deborah seems perfectly capable, mindlessly making a double shot and moving to the fridge to grab the oat milk that Josefina has yet to see used in person. Soon, Deborah is pouring it into the steamer, frothing it just so until she takes the pitcher away, her eyes scanning the headlines of the paper next to her before combining the shots and milk in a mug like it’s something she does every day.

“What, did I grow two heads overnight?” Deborah asks, not looking up as she pours the last of the foam.

Josefina, now caught, replies, “It’s just that I’ve never seen you use the espresso machine before.”

Deborah grins, a certain glint in her eye. “It’s a work in progress. Been practicing a lot at night when I can’t sleep.” And with that, she’s folding the newspaper under her arm and taking the cup of coffee into the sitting room. Curious, Josefina follows at a distance, making herself busy in the hallway.

“Here,” she hears Deborah say. “Careful. Hot.”

“You know, the service is so great here,” Ava replies.

“Why don’t you tell my manager, then? Would really help me out.” There’s a pause and a shuffle as Deborah sits down. “Why’d you switch the order of these?”

“I just think the flow from accidental orgy to night in jail flows better.” Ava says, sipping her coffee and humming briefly in approval. “And we still have room for one more. Remind me why we’re not using the menopause stuff?

Deborah’s eye roll is palpable, even if Josefina can’t see it. “If I wanted to remind people of my age I’d do the whole set with my tits out--scar the audience for life.”

Ava says something else, then, not quite understandable from where Josefina stands in the hallway.

Deborah lets out an uncharacteristic giggle, then clears her throat. “Yeah, yeah. Just drink your coffee, sweetheart.”

From where Josefina stands, that seems to be the start of things.

 

two.

 

“So anyway, Luna doesn’t even want to be seen in public with me anymore,” Kiki says with a drawn-out sigh. “I took her to Build-A-Bear yesterday and she told me to wait in the car.”

Deborah taps the table for another card. “Just wait until she’s eighteen. Then you’ll have to deal with an addiction to pills and a punch card at Planned Parenthood on top of the ‘she hates me’ part.”

“Deborah!” Ava calls from the entryway as the door slams shut. There’s what sounds to be a struggle as her Doc Martens hit the floor, and then she’s running to the table, sock-clad feet sliding on the marble. “You’re trending!”

“Trending.” Deborah repeats, unfazed.

“You’re--God--” Ava grabs onto the blackjack table, knuckles white as she gasps for breath.

“Jesus, would you sit down? You’re making my lungs hurt.”

“I need to stop vaping, holy shit,” Ava sits and breathes for a moment, Deborah offering her her glass of Diet Coke, which she accepts gratefully. “You’re trending on Twitter,” she reiterates. “There’s thousands of people talking about you.”

“Wow, thousands.” Deborah mocks, taking her Diet Coke back and sipping from the same straw.

“Somebody posted a video of your set last night and it’s everywhere. They love it.”

“Deborah,” Marcus says from the doorway, grinning. “You’re tren--”

“Trending? Yeah, I just heard all about it from Usain Bolt over here.” Deborah says, thumbing in Ava’s direction.

Kiki watches as Marcus’ smile falls just a bit. It reminds her of when she tells Luna she’ll be chaperoning one of the field trips at her preschool. Utter disappointment. “Well, The Tonight Show wants you,” he continues. “They have an opening for this evening, if we can make it.”

“See?” Ava says, reaching her arm to rest on the back of Deborah’s chair. “I told you it was a big fucking deal.”

Deborah, for her part, actually looks a bit scattered. “When’s the pre-interview? Do we have time to write anything new? What am I wearing?”

“The jet’s going to be ready in an hour and Josefina’s pulling outfits upstairs,” Marcus answers. “It’ll be tight but you can come up with something on the plane.”

It’s at this that Deborah turns toward Ava, practically electric. “Do you think I can get away with the blind date story?”

“Only if you take out the part about the dildo.”

“Really? Dammit, that’s the best part.”

Ava shrugs. “Replace it with a finger or two and it’s practically the same.”

Deborah lets out a bark of laughter. “God, you’re brilliant,” she says, reaching out to briefly run her finger under Ava’s chin. “Okay,” she claps loudly, standing up. “Outfit, then plane. Where the fuck is Damien?”

Kiki eyes Ava as Marcus and Deborah disappear upstairs. She’s still sitting at the table, eyes hazy, with a hint of red on her cheeks. Kiki digs her compact out of her bag and opens it, holding the mirror out for Ava to see herself in.

“Now that’s a blush, girlfriend.”

 

three.

 

“I need you to send a car to the airport at four,” Deborah tells him when he skids to a halt in her office.

“Okay,” Damien says, and he’s already adding it to the growing to-do list on his iPad.

“Then I need you to help Josefina go shopping. I had Anthony put together a list of everything he’ll need for tonight and it’ll need to be ready by the time he gets here.”

At this, Damien stops typing, raising an eyebrow in question.

“There’s this restaurant in Los Angeles--I’ve been told the mussels are fantastic,” Deborah explains, looking at her hands. “I paid the head chef to be here for the night.”

“Oh! Fantastic. Uh, did we need to prepare for guests?” He taps his foot anxiously, already overwhelmed by the thought of having to put together a dinner party on such short notice. Not that he hasn’t done it before.

“No, there’s just the two of us.” Deborah’s onto other things now, looking back to her computer screen. “Oh, and I ordered a cake from Freed’s. That’ll need to get snagged while you’re out as well.”

“Of course.” He waits for a moment before taking her lack of interest as dismissal and heading for the door.

“Oh, and Damien?” He turns around. “Consider this whole thing our little secret, huh?”

He doesn’t have time to think about what that means, or who the mystery guest is, until he’s back in his car after picking the cake up from the bakery. The box is small enough, perfect for two, and he can’t keep himself from cracking the lid to see what’s inside. There, perfectly piped in buttercream, are three words: Happy Birthday, Ava.

Well, that’s bullshit, he thinks. His birthday was last month and he never got a fucking cake.

 

four.

 

He’s cooped up in his office after barely moving all day, too caught up in making the jump from COO to CEO to do much else. He hasn’t even gotten up to turn on the lights, the office only illuminated by his computer screen, when he hears the echo of the front door opening and closing. Hesitant footsteps come down the hall, stopping in the kitchen.

“Hey,” Marcus hears Ava say. “You okay? I got your voicemail.”

“Barely,” Deborah replies. “That was torture.”

“Does it help if I say I’m proud of you? Or is that too Afterschool Special?”

The sound of Deborah’s half-snort bounces throughout the otherwise empty house. “Gee thanks, mom.”

“Shut up,” Ava says. “C’mere, bring it in.”

Marcus sits there for a moment, staring straight ahead before making up his mind. Quietly, he gets up and tiptoes to the doorway, peeking out just enough to see Deborah and Ava locked in a full embrace.

Judging by the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like their first time doing this. They both seem comfortable, swaying slightly as they hold onto each other, Deborah’s fingers playing with the ends of Ava’s hair, a content sigh escaping her lips as her eyes close. Marcus finds that he can’t look away.

“So, what’d she say?” Ava asks, and the break in silence makes Marcus jump so hard he nearly hits his elbow on the door jamb.

Deborah breaks away and walks out of view, but he can hear her grabbing a glass and getting ice from the soda machine. “What, besides ‘I’m sorry for having an affair with your husband and stealing your entire life away?’”

Ava laughs, sitting down at the counter. “Yeah, and give me all the details so I can draft an email to the people in Britain,” she says, to which Deborah rolls her eyes. “What, too soon?”

Deborah, surprisingly, moves right past it. “It was really nothing special. I can’t say I even listened.” She pauses for a moment. “The one thing I did hear is that she wanted to make up for lost time, which is hilarious, right? When someone causes the time to be lost but wants it back anyway.” She finally sits down next to Ava, drawing her silk robe tighter around herself. “I can’t bring myself to live a life of regret like that, and at this point that’s all Kathy’s doing. The way I see it, life happens the way it happens and leads you to where you end up. It’s not magic, it just is what it is.”

“Very poignant. Have you ever thought about going into writing fortune cookies if this whole comedy thing doesn’t work out?”

“Jeez, maybe I should’ve called a therapist after all.”

“Hey, why do that when you’ve got me, huh? And I’m half the price of a shrink.”

“And somehow still too expensive.” Deborah replies.

It’s silent for a moment, and Marcus can’t get a good view of them, so he steps a bit further into the hallway.

“For the record, I’m still going to die angry about it and I don’t care at all what that bitch has to say,” Deborah says with a finger in the air. “But at least, you know, seeing her put things into perspective. Or whatever.”

“Right. Or whatever,” Ava repeats with a smile on her face. “At least this time you didn’t run her over, right? That’s a huge win.”

“Oh,” Deborah winces. “Is this a bad time to tell you about the body in the trunk?”

They look at each other for a beat and then dissolve into laughter, Ava’s hand finding Deborah’s and squeezing once, then twice, both of them looking at each other in a way Marcus feels like he’s intruding on.

Whatever this is, he thinks he’s seen enough.

 

five.

 

Normally, Deborah and DJ’s Christmases consist of an eerily quiet house, stale and unforgiving, where they exchange presents that neither of them particularly care for before eating a mediocre dinner and saying their goodbyes. This year, though, the house seems fuller than it’s ever been, and the party is in full swing by the time she and Aidan arrive.

She’s been eyeing her mom all night, who has a smile on her face that doesn’t seem to go away. There’s a calmness to her that’s actually starting to freak her the fuck out, because for the first time since DJ can remember Deborah actually seems...content. Still herself, brash and occasionally hostile, but a little less angry. A little less closed off.

After the entrees are served, DJ looks across the table to see her mother’s smile directed only at Ava, who’s sitting right next to her talking to Kiki. Ava stops talking for a moment, reaching out to place a hand on Deborah’s forearm, before she continues with what she was saying. It all seems so natural to them, something not even worth blinking at, which plants the seed in DJ’s mind that there has to be something going on.

As she’s playing her Christmas rendition of the Jurassic Park theme (which consists of Aidan doing his best to play along with the sleigh bells, because hey, he loves her and they practiced this), she sees her mom whispering in Ava’s ear. Whether it’s sweet nothings, DJ’s not sure, but the two of them share quiet laughter anyway, shoulders touching as they huddle in the corner of the room, and eventually it becomes more than she can take. After her performance, DJ excuses herself to her mother’s bedroom to pilfer her expensive lotions, and it doesn’t make it any better to see the Juul pods, charging cords, and notepads that have taken residence on the other nightstand.

Soon enough, Ava appears at the door. “Hey, Aidan told me you were upset. Everything okay?”

“I don’t know,” DJ says, dumping moisturizer into the trash. “How long have you been fucking my mother?”

For her part, Ava seems confused, a buffering symbol all but appearing on her forehead. “Uhh, what?”

“You were practically dry humping each other at the dinner table, Ava. I’m not stupid.”

“DJ, your mom--Deborah and I aren’t together like that, I swear.”

DJ squints, hands covered in La Mer. “Really?” she asks. “Because that’s even weirder. You realize how that makes the whole thing even weirder, right?”

“Is it?” Ava pinches the bridge of her nose. “Yeah. I guess it is.”

“So you two really aren’t a thing?” DJ feels even more confused than before. “Wow. I was pissed and everything, but I won’t lie to you, it did make some sense.”

Ava moves to sit next to her on the bed. “I mean, yeah, we spend a lot of time together, I can see how those wires could get crossed. But trust me, I just have, like, this really fucked up sense of intimacy that makes things kinda...” She mimics an explosion. “Anyway, it’s really nothing.”

DJ just stares at her for a minute. “Okay, this is getting stupid.”

Ava tilts her head to the side, confused. “I’m having a hard time keeping up here.”

“Please don’t make me be the messenger here, but the way I saw you two downstairs was anything but run-of-the-mill Deborah Vance. She couldn’t keep her fucking eyes off of you.”

“Okay..? So…”

DJ reaches for a couple tissues to wipe the excess lotion from her hands. “All I’m saying is that the whole ‘fucked up sense of intimacy’ thing sounds like a giganto excuse for playing off whatever the hell is going on between you two. Not that I care to know or find out.” DJ puts the empty bottles back on the nightstand before turning back to face her. “Listen, Ava, I like you. You’ve been a great friend to me. You’ve supported D’Jewelry since the beginning, you were the maid of honor at my wedding--”

“--I mean, there literally wasn’t anyone else there, but--”

“--I trust you with my life.” At this, DJ’s eyes begin to fill with tears. “Aw, actually, now that I think about it, you would make a really great stepmom.”

“Oh, my god,” Ava physically winces. “Yeah, no, let’s not do that.”

“What, you’re not ready for the responsibility? I swear, I’m an easy kid.”

“DJ, seriously.”

“You could take me to a ball game, how about that?”

“You know, I think I actually just heard someone call me from downstairs, I should go check. It could be important,” Ava says, sprinting to the door.

“Wait, Ava!” DJ says, hot on her trail. “Will you at least pay for my sweet sixteen?!”

 

six.

 

They hear it before they see it.

“Jesus Christ, you are a fucking maniac!” Ava yells, her voice cutting through the backyard and into the kitchen where Damien, Marcus and Josefina sit eating lunch. They all glance at each other quickly before rushing to look out the window.

Deborah and Ava are talking rather heatedly in the grass by the shed, but they’re too far away to actually hear everything they’re saying.

“Fun fact,” Josefina offers as an aside. “The shirt Ava’s wearing is one of Deborah’s. I just put it away in her closet.”

“No way,” Damien says. “Hey, is this a good time to mention I walked in on them taking a nap together the other day?”

“A nap?” Marcus asks.

Damien nods, “Yeah, like a full blown, spooning on the couch siesta. I backed away so fast it was like a hit and run.”

“Oh, my god.” Marcus says, looking to the ceiling. “That would explain the Hugh Hefner comment last week.”

Damien and Josefina just look at him, waiting for him to elaborate. “Honestly, never mind,” he says. “I’m still a little traumatized.”

“So what, just because you want to play Little Miss Holier Than Thou we have to rewrite ten minutes worth of material? Get over yourself.” Deborah’s voice comes through loud and clear.

“It didn’t work and you know it! How far is the stick up your ass, anyway? And when you find out, can you let me know what other shitty jokes you find up there?”

“Oof,” the three of them say in unison.

“Hey, can you pass my Coke?”

“Yeah.”

“You know what, don’t even bother coming to the Omaha show. I’m pretty sure your presence would kill what’s left of their natural resources, and god knows those people suffer enough just from living in fucking Nebraska.”

“Oh, please, as if I want to spend any time in a place where their biggest export is corn.”

“Their biggest export is beef, you nitwit!”

“Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a fight this stupid,” Marcus says. “And I watch Drag Race every season.”

“It’s like a car accident,” Josefina adds, twirling leftover spaghetti around her fork. “You just can’t look away.”

“God, you’re so fucking—“

Suddenly, the fight is cut off by the sound of sprinklers starting across the entire grounds. Deborah and Ava shriek as they’re hit in all directions, nowhere to run for cover.

“Oh, shit,” Marcus says. “I forgot to turn them off.”

Damien just smiles. “What a day to have security cameras. I’ll be replaying this moment for the next six months.”

“Uh, or not,” Josefina replies, pointing out the window.

Suddenly, Deborah has Ava by the lapels, pulling her in for a kiss as if they’re in their own personal version of The Notebook, completely drenched by the sprinklers that Wilson will most likely write them up for using this long.

“Well, this was fun,” Marcus throws over his shoulder, practically running to his office.

“Yeah, I should probably go get started on the LA invites,” Damien agrees, disappearing down the hallway.

“I’ll go get the laundry from upstairs,” Josefina says to no one in particular, eyes locked on the women still kissing outside.

“Probably a better view up there anyway.”

 

seven.

 

It’s freezing in New York, the complete opposite from Los Angeles, but Jimmy made the trip to offer Deborah and Ava congratulations on the sold out remainder of the tour anyway. He’d never expected their partnership to create anything of actual worth (to be honest, the whole thing was a bit of a Hail Mary), but now that it had worked, he was starting to feel like he was on solid ground again.

By the time he gets backstage to say good luck, the door to Deborah’s dressing room is closed, which he should have taken as his first sign, but he knocks anyway. Once, then twice, then a third time before he runs out of patience, turning the knob and walking in on--

“Oh my god,” is all he can say before he claps his hand over his eyes, having seen more than he ever wanted to.

Ava scrambles to cover up. “Oh, shit,”

“Jesus Christ, does nobody fucking knock?” Deborah asks, sitting up on the couch.

“Deborah, uh, Ms. Vance, I am so sorry,” Jimmy says, eyes still closed. “I was just dropping by on behalf of the partners. We’re really--well, we’re really happy about how things are going.”

“Oh, are you?” Deborah responds dryly, buttoning her blouse.

“In the general sense. We’re generally happy. For you.” He practically whimpers. “Ava? Please?”

“I don’t think I can help you there, bud,” she says from her place on the couch, surprisingly calm. “You can open your eyes now, though.”

“It feels safer with them closed.”

“Suit yourself.”

“Well, break a leg, Deborah,” he says, edging towards the door. “And, ow,” he misjudges the distance between himself and the wall. “We’ll talk on Monday.”

“Bye Jimmy!” Ava says as he closes the door behind him. When the door clicks shut, he’s just able to hear Deborah saying, “Oh, you’re just loving this, aren’t you?”

He finally opens his eyes, beelining for the elevator and dialing the office number. “Kayla,” he says into his phone. “I’m gonna need you to put me on with HR. Now.”

 

eight.

 

She’s wearing an off the shoulder gold dress that makes her look like a fucking Academy Award--and he loves it. If he’s being honest, he loves her, but things have always been so complicated between the two of them, and even if they can’t ever be solved, he takes it upon himself to try.

“You up for a glass of wine?” he asks from behind her.

“Not interested,” she replies, and she doesn’t even turn around. He steps forward to catch her eye.

“Deb, c’mon. Your new show’s doing great--better than you were ever doing at the Palmetto. From where I’m standing it seems like losing your residency was the best thing that could’ve happened to you. Can’t we get past this?”

“Hm, I just don’t know,” she says, tapping her chin. “I suppose we could put it all behind us. Though, when I think about it, you were always so much better at fucking me over than actually fucking, so it’s probably not even worth the trouble anyway.” She smirks, taking a sip of her champagne. “And anyway, haven’t you heard? I’m off the market.”

She looks across the room, eyes hooded, and he follows her gaze to the young redhead who looks like she’s about to ask him when he last had his oil changed. “What--her? You’re joking.”

Deborah just blinks at him, a shit-eating grin hidden behind her glass. “What, you think you’re the only one who can pull a 25 year old? At least mine has an IQ above 80. Not to mention she fucks with her shirt off. And her tits are even better than yours! Who knew that was possible, right?”

He looks around the room, embarrassed at the volume. “Christ, not this again.”

“And in any case,” Deborah continues, “You’re right. The new show is doing great--but it’s all thanks to her. Not you.” She hands him her empty glass, clapping him on the shoulder. “Say hi to Pentatonix for me.”

 

nine.

 

Deborah tosses the tabloid onto Ava’s lap.

Robbing the Cradle? Deborah Vance honors Hollywood tradition by wooing writing partner 40 years her junior.

The picture’s nice enough, just the two of them out to lunch the other day. Although, the closer she looks the more she notices the little things. Deborah’s hand firmly on her thigh, Ava’s arm around the back of her chair, the dessert she convinced Deborah to share sitting on the table in front of them. Actually, she might want this one framed.

“Oh, nice! Is this another DJ special?”

Deborah just sighs, pacing around the hotel room. They’re in Phoenix, their second to last stop, and for some reason she feels like she’s about to suffocate. Not the heat, necessarily, but rather the fact that she’s already able to feel the impending doom of what the end of the tour means: alone once again.

“God, I don’t know who took it or why they did, but this is the most annoyed I’ve been with the press since 1994.” Deborah balls up her fists at her sides.

Ava just looks up at her and tosses the magazine onto the table without a second look. “It’s funny they actually ran this. You know, normally if two women are together the media needs to be hit upside the head with a brick to actually call it anything romantic. I’m surprised they didn’t just call us gal pals.”

Deborah finally sits down in the chair across from her, leg bouncing up and down. “Now that I think about it, I did, uh, tell Marty about us at the charity auction last week. Maybe he...I don’t know.” She scratches at the back of her ear, almost embarrassed.

Ava exhales a laugh. “Listen, if good ol’ Marty swung his wrinkly little balls around enough to get something like that published just to spite you, I’m not gonna lie, I’m impressed.” She says, popping a couple leftover fries in her mouth. “And anyway, I forgot to tell you this, but basically everyone knows about us already. Could’ve been anyone.”

‘What? Where was I?” Deborah asks. “Who?”

“Well, Josefina has started hanging my clothes in your closet, so I’m guessing she knows something. Damien hasn’t been able to look me in the eye for two months, which could’ve been nothing, except I called him out on it and he finally told me he saw us, um, on 4th of July.” Ava scratches the back of her neck, briefly reliving that night in particular.

“Must’ve gotten quite the show.”

“Kiki’s known since the beginning, which we knew, and Marcus knows just based on the fact that he’s been such a pissy little baby for the past six months. Oh! And DJ’s planning our wedding, I’m pretty sure. Hope you like chunky gemstones for engagement rings.”

Deborah sighs, leaning back in her chair to look at the ceiling. “And here I was thinking we were enjoying things quietly.”

“Does it really matter? I mean, it helps a little bit that the Bandaid’s already off, right? Now we can just relax after tour, see what’s next.”

It means nothing to Ava, but somehow that tiny statement is enough to help Deborah breath again. She’s still filled with a specific kind of dread, but hearing Ava say that things don’t end between them when the tour does is enough to lower her blood pressure back to normal levels.

“Hey, do you think we could get the paps to get another good picture of us? Then we could send out Christmas cards.”

At this, Deborah just smiles.

 

ten.

 

“Last show tomorrow,” Ava calls from the bedroom as she hears Deborah coming up the stairs. “You ready for it?”

“‘Course I am.” Deborah says, entering the room with a cup of coffee. “Here you go, hon.”

Ava graciously accepts it, taking a sip. “Have you ever thought about opening a coffee shop? If you move this operation to LA you could charge an arm and a leg and set up a pretty cushy retirement for yourself.”

Deborah dramatically looks around her bedroom, which is already the size of a football field. Ava just nods. “Riiiiiight.”

Deborah sighs, smoothing out the duvet. She reaches out to pat Ava’s leg before taking a deep breath. “I don’t want it to be over.”

Ava smiles. “Me neither. But hey, we’ll be right back here to write another one, right?”

“No, Ava, I mean…Jesus, I feel stupid.” Deborah pauses, running a hand through her hair. “Don’t you want to be looking for other work? Something in Hollywood that could actually further your career?”

Ava bites her lip. “See, you’d think so, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that collaborating with one of the greatest comedians of all time to create a show that will leave a lasting impact on the world is kind of a big fucking deal.” She sits up, putting her coffee cup on the nightstand. “And look, even if it wasn’t, I feel a hell of a lot more at home here than in LA. Hasn't always been that way, but now it's because of you.”

Deborah purses her lips and looks down, the telltale sign that she’s about to cry. Ava reaches out for her hand.

“I guess this is as good a time as any to come clean about something?”

“Oh, god,” Deborah says, wiping her eyes. “Who did you email now?”

Ava holds up her hands in mock surrender. “Nobody, I swear. But, I have been writing a little something.”

She pulls a script from her laptop bag on the floor, already printed and bound. She turns it toward Deborah.

Losing Late Night
Written by Ava Daniels and Deborah Vance

“It’s the script for our TV show. The one we’re going to write together, I mean. I’ve already written the first episode, but, y’know, nothing is permanent. I figure no matter how good I think it is you’ll edit it into something even better.”

Debora flips through the pages. “This is about me?”

“A little yes and a little no. You’re the inspiration, sure, but it can be based as much in reality as you’re comfortable with.” She tucks her hair behind her ear. “And suffice to say, if that’s not at all, that’s okay too.”

“No,” Deborah replies before quickly elaborating. “Sorry, I meant to say no, I do want to do it.”

“Well, phew, ‘cause I already told Jimmy about it and he’s practically chomping at the bit to find a buyer for it. He says he could see it on HBO, like, yesterday.”

Deborah runs her hand over the first page and looks up, smiling at Ava who seems to see her in a way she never figured she’d be seen again. She has questions, lots, and all of them float around in her brain, make her stomach flip with nerves and excitement. One question, though, sticks out more than the rest.

“When can we start?”

 

fin.